Preview: Ligue 2 – Week 7
What a weekend of Ligue 2 action we have ahead of us: top-of-the-table Metz take on local rivals and third-place Nancy on Friday night, Dijon take on Le Havre, and Nimes and Niort do battle in an early six-point relegation battle.
FC Metz v AS Nancy-Lorraine: Friday 19:00 – @jeremysmith98
A spicy affair at the best of times, this weekend’s Lorraine derby takes on an extra piquancy as current Ligue 2 leaders Metz host fellow promotion candidates Nancy at the Stade Saint-Symphorien.
Les Grenats have had a brilliant start to the season results-wise, moving on from an opening day goalless draw with Lens to record five straight wins, the latest of which came 1-0 at Laval. The match mirrored most of Metz’s matches this year, in that they were second-best for long periods but relied on an excellent rearguard action before sneaking the win. Thomas Didillon excelled yet again in goal and Jose Palomino marshalled the defence superbly. Metz, and Amido Baldé in particular, continued to struggle in attack, until new signing Emmanuel Mayuka, two minutes into his debut after replacing Baldé, capitalised on a goalkeeping error to score the winner.
Nancy, like Metz, have also had an unbeaten start to their Ligue 2 campaign, as coach Pablo Correa finds the balance between a group of exciting French youngsters including Clément Lenglet and Rémi Walter, and experienced heads such as Benoit Pedretti, Youssouf Hadji and top scorer Anthony Robic. Last weekend les Chardons for the most part dominated at home to struggling Niort and looked set for the three points after Hadji put them ahead, but they conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1.
Last time Metz hosted Nancy, les Grenats ran out 3-0 winners. With so much at stake, this match – which Nancy fans are forbidden to attend – is likely to be far tighter (Metz have named only one out-and-out striker, Mayuka, in their squad), and could be decided by a solitary goal.
RC Lens v Tours FC: Friday 19:00 – @IsMiseBrendan
Let there be no illusions – RC Lens’ start to the 2015-2016 Ligue 2 campaign has been quite simply dismal, and after six games without success, Les Sangs et Or’s supporters are becoming increasingly worried about their club’s fate, and the previously unthinkable – relegation to National – is now not a far-flung possibility. Lens welcome Tours FC to the newly re-opened Stade Bollaert in a game in which they will have to overcome the odds if they are to win against a side that have lost just once in Ligue 2 this season so far.
Antoine Kombouaré’s home side have suffered in the league this season from their inability to score goals – no single player has scored more than once this season for the club and overall the team has only managed to score three times. One bright spark for the club has been Paris Saint-Germain loanee Jordan Ikoko; the former France U20 left-back catches the eye with his willingness to push forward in matches, but even when he provides good service, the attacking line have been unable to make the most of their promising young teammate’s efforts.
Tours are yet to lose on the road this season, and this should give Marco Simone’s side confidence ahead of their trip north. The men from the Centre-Val de Loire region lost their first game of the Ligue 2 campaign last week against a resurgent Bourg-en-Bresse at home, and they will be eager to please their support once again. Theoretically, a win could send Tours up to fourth in the table, and Messrs Bosetti and Kouakou will be keen to spur their side to a second away win of the season.
This is a match that Tours could, and really should, win.
Dijon FCO v Le Havre: Friday 19:00 – @rich_allen85
It’s a battle between two teams who many expect to be in the mix for promotion this season. Whilst Dijon are living up to those expectations, Le Havre have struggled of late. The home side are on a great run of form having comfortably dispatched Lens, Creteil and Valenciennes in fairly convincing style over recent weeks. Le Havre may have also beaten Lens two weeks ago but this sits in the middle of a pretty poor run of form. That win was sandwiched by losses to Paris FC, Clermont and Red Star.
Julio Tavares and Frederic Sammaritano are the players to watch for Dijon, with the latter having made a relatively impressive start to his Dijon career, and three goals for Tavares make him Dijon’s biggest goal threat. Wesley Said has almost fully recovered from a knee injury but this game may be just too early for him.
Le Havre will hope Mathieu Duhamel recovers from the knock that kept him out of last week’s defeat at home to Red Star; the former Caen and Metz striker had looked sharp on his debut in the win over Lens as he opened his goalscoring account. Should Duhamel not make it, the task for Le Havre will be harder. Despite the 4-0 win over Lens, goals have been hard to come by and without Duhamel it’s difficult to see how they will have the firepower to overcome an in-form Dijon.
Paris FC v Evian TG: Saturday 13:00 – @meatmansoccer
Paris FC are one of just three sides who remain unbeaten. The problem is that they’ve drawn 5 of their 6 games and failed to pick up enough victories. Nevertheless, I’m sure the newly-promoted outfit will be very satisfied with their start to the campaign. It’s not as if they’ve had an easy fixture list either; the likes of Sochaux, Le Havre and Brest have all been faced, so they’ve done well to avoid defeat in those type of games. Bourg-en-Bresse currently have more points, but it seems like Paris FC are the best-equipped of all the promoted outfits, having signed reliable and proven players at this level such as goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux and striker Nicolas Fauvergue. Long term, this is an ambitious club and the president has come out on record saying he’d like to see them in Ligue 1 within a 3-4 year period.
This looks set to be an intriguing fixture against an enigmatic Evian side. Les Roses have been difficult to predict since their relegation but finally caught fire last week, demolishing Auxerre 4-0. No fewer than a dozen new players have been added to their squad, many of whom are of South American origin and rather unknown in French football circles. But it was the more familiar ex-Lille man Gianni Bruno who scored a brace last week and it might be that Ligue 2 is the sort of division he can excel in. One youngster to watch out for with Evian is Fabien Centonze. He’s an extremely versatile player, capable of playing in a number of positions, especially out wide. He’s started the season extremely well and looks set to have a bright future. This match is difficult to call between a couple of sides who are tough to beat. Perhaps another draw is looming for Paris FC.
This week, Brendan is going for Laval, Tours and Dijon all to win – with two away wins £5 would win you around £123.