Preview: Ligue 2 – Week 9
We are nearly one quarter of the way through the Ligue 2 season, but the table is not looking how anyone would have expected. Dijon are good for their first place, but Bourg-en-Bresse and Creteil have surprised some by taking up places in the top five.
In contrast, big names like Auxerre, Sochaux and Lens find themselves at the wrong end of the table. There are 12 teams within nine point of top spot, a run at this stage could see a whole number of clubs make a push for promotion.
Chamois Niort v Clermont Foot: 19:00 Friday – @IsMiseBrendan
Both these teams head in to tonight’s fixture after favourable results during the week. Corrine Diacre’s Clermont brushed AC Ajaccio aside with a two-nil win during their midweek fixture, while Régis Brouard’s Chamois Niortias earned another admirable away point against Brest at the Francis-
Le-Blé. Niort’s only win of the season came at home last week against Nimes, but a recording second win at home against Clermont will probably be beyond the Poitou-Charentes side’s capabilities.
Clermont’s unbeaten run of opening games was brought to an end by a defeat at the hands of Évian Thonon-Gaillard and since then their form has been patchy. Their victory in Corsica on Tuesday night was however a much needed confidence boost and supporters will be hoping that it will have given their side the impetus to return to consistent winning ways. Sochaux loanee centre-forward Famara Diehdiou has scored all eight of the Clermont’s league goals this season and he could prove to be the difference between the two sides.
After a disastrous start to the season, Niort finally seem to have found some degree of stability. Brouard’s side go into this fixture on the back of three games without defeat, following impressive draws at Nancy and Brest, as well as their aforementioned home win. Ande Dona Ndoh has scored in consecutive games for Les Niortais and this is crucial in the absence of Seydou Koné’s goal. It must also be noted that the addition of pacey winger Faiz Selemani to first-team ranks has greatly benefit the club’s ability to hit teams on the counter.
This is a match in which the objective for the home side has to be stopping the seemingly unstoppable unit that is Diehdiou. He has scored in every game he has played in this season, with the exception of one match – a one-nil defeat last Friday against Auxerre in which the experienced Sébastien Puygrennier demonstrated that with tight and forceful marking stopping Diehdiou is possible.
Dijon FCO v Stade Lavallois: 13:00 Saturday – @Gibney_A
Table toppers Dijon host Laval at the Stade Gaston Gérard on Saturday afternoon, looking to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games, six of which have come in Ligue 2. The Burgundy club only won one of their first three games, but since the 2-1 away defeat to newly promoted Bourg-en-Bresse, Olivier Dall-Oglio’s team have been unstoppable.
They are the leagues top scorers – just ahead of Bourg – with goals coming from six different players, including three, surprisingly from defender Christopher Jullien.
Dijon are a side who have mixed youth and experience perfectly. Former Newcastle United midfielder Romain Amalfitano has linked with Frederic Sammaritano in the midfield, with Julio Tavares upfront to create a veteran trio that has pushed the side forward this campaign.
Laval have enjoyed mixed form this season, but Denis Zanko’s side have struggled of late, winless in their last three, this will be a extremely tough test for the Breton club. Goals have dried up and they will need the likes of Romain Habran, Julien Viale and Rachid Alioui to step up if they are to avoid slipping down the Ligue 2 table.
It’s hard to look past a strong home victory, but Laval have won at Auxerre and Niort this season, they can’t be discounted despite their poor form.
Paris FC v AS Nancy: 19:30 Monday – @rich_allen85
Going into the 9th round of matches, there are only two unbeaten teams remaining. Whilst one of them is Metz, and not that surprising, the other is newly promoted side Paris FC. This may be a great achievement, it must be caveated that they have also only won one game with the remaining fixtures all ending in draws. With goals at a premium. Paris have had to rely on a strong defence. Five goals conceded represents the second best record in the league. Central to that record has been the form of goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux who has been in great form since joining from Brest.
Nancy also held an unbeaten record going into their midweek game against Auxerre but after a strong start to the season they were surprisingly defeated at home. We’ve written before about the young triumverate of Clement Lenglet, Remi Walter and Arnold Lusamba but Nancy are littered with experienced players who are continuing to play starring roles. Top scorer Antony Robic and former Lille and Auxerre midfielder Benoit Pedretti are thriving under Pablo Correa. In his third spell with the club, the fact that Youssouf Hadji has played every minuted of every league game so far shows how crucial he is to the team.
This will be a tight game and maybe not one that will be high on the entertainment factor. It will however be a gritty and attritional game that is highly likely to finish as a stalemate.