Preview: Ligue 2 – Week 15
Football returns this weekend and so does Steve Wyss, here to guide you through the Week 15 Ligue 2 fixtures.
Dijon FCO – Clermont Foot: Friday 19:00
Dijon’s season so far has very much mirrored recent campaigns. A run of seven wins in their first nine games propelled them to the top of the Ligue 2 table. Indeed, at that stage they had a comfortable four point cushion and a gap of six points to fourth place.
However, a poorer run of results has dropped them down to third, with a resurgent Le Havre right on their coat-tails. This sums up Dijon: they have looked like a banker for promotion in the last few seasons, only to then shoot themselves in the foot with some bad periods of results. Nevertheless, few would argue that they are still a major contender this year.
Their squad has plenty of quality and key playmaker Frederic Sammaritano has especially been impressive this season. Big man at the back, Christopher Julien has also proven to be an excellent new addition, whilst Johan Gastien regularly pulls the strings in midfield. One of the main advantages Dijon have is their home form. Since their relegation back into Ligue 2 they have won 28 out of 45 games at le Stade Gaston Gerard and only lost seven of those fixtures. This season they’ve won six out of seven in front of their own fans, the one loss being a flukey defeat to Evian.
Teams fear coming to Dijon, but Clermont will likely be positive and try to take the game to their opponents. The visitors are best known for their female coach, Corinne Diacre and she has done well during her spell at the club. At times she shows tactical naivety and a willingness to be over-adventurous, but that is her style – she will try and win every game, playing for a 0-0 isn’t her philosophy.
Helping out Diacre is Famara Diedhiou, the current Ligue 2 top scorer. He is a massive weapon and has netted a whopping 13 times in 12 games so far! (72% of Clermont goals). Ironically, he is on loan from Sochaux and his parent club have only scored a measly eight times all campaign, which makes his loan out even more laughable! This should be an open and exciting encounter, but ultimately Dijon should be able to outscore their opponents, as they do in most home games.
US Creteil – AS Nancy: Friday 19:00
Emotions are likely to be high when Nancy are the visitors to Le Stade Dominique Duvauchelle. With Creteil being a suburb of south eastern Paris, it’s obviously a city which has been hit hard by the recent terrorist attacks. For the club itself, they have said it’s business as usual but a number of players have been training with a heavy heart this week.
In terms of performances, Creteil have been one of the least impressive teams this season. They sit in 10th spot, but mostly thanks to numerous lucky away wins in which they just took their chances clinically on the break. In truth, they have certainly not deserved to obtain as many points. Les Beliers have the second worst home record out of anyone in the league and much prefer being on the road. Their most notable players include striker Faneva Andriatsima and old legend Jean-Michel Lesage who is still going strong at the age of 38.
There’s little doubt that Nancy are the favourites this Friday night. They have a much better squad with loads of quality in it and their ambition for the season is to obtain promotion back to Ligue 1. The Lorraine outfit have dominated most games they’ve played this year and they will almost certainly have much more of the ball in this fixture.
Nancy are a side who will monopolise possession, although don’t always turn this into as many goals as they should. Coach Pablo Correa has a vast squad at his disposal and one of his bigger challenges has been keeping everyone happy. He has been forced to leave out some quality players at certain times, including midfielder Remi Walter. A number of Ligue 1 clubs were interested in buying him a few months ago, but slightly poor form and a questionable attitude has ensured inconsistent appearances. A run of four wins in five games has fired Nancy up to second in the table and they should be able to take maximum points here.
Creteil, however, could find inspiration from recent events and spring a surprise. Besides, Nancy have been known to blow a number of points at times this season due to lack of chance conversion, so there’s a chance that might cost them again.
FC Metz – AJ Auxerre: Saturday 13:00
Two sides who are potentially overrated meet at le Stade Saint-Symphorien for this Saturday afternoon showdown. Metz sit top of the table and have only lost one game all season, but in terms of raw performances, many would argue they should have lost more. This of course doesn’t mean the Lorraine club are a bad side; au contraire you might say.
The sign of a good team is picking up points when you don’t play well, although les Grenats will need to improve upon a return of just two wins in eight games to maintain a promotion push. It has to be said injuries haven’t helped the hosts this season but by and large their defence and midfield is pretty formidable. In the final third of the field they lack an attacking identity, and the lack of a top goalscorer could hinder them. Jose Riga’s men will always be strong tactically though and maintain strong discipline, so have to be respected.
Auxerre travel here in the middle of an inconsistent season. The Burgundy outfit started the season badly, but a run of four wins in five games got them back on track. However, recent poor results have moved them to the mediocrity of midtable. Truth be told, they fluked a number of those aforementioned wins and they have rarely been convincing this season. AJA are often a side who deliver the goods when least expected to, so perhaps this fixture might suit them. In many ways they are similar to Metz in that they lack an attacking threat: they are alarmingly short of any top quality strikers. Key playmaker Vincent Gragnic remains on the sidelines, unlikely to return until the new year, so creating chances will continue to be a worry from week to week.
Expect a tight game here with both defences possibly on top. Whoever takes their crucial chance at the right time will end up victorious. Based on the season so far, you’d have to favour Metz because they have that knack of delivering a timely blow.