Ligue 2 Previews: Week 28
FC Metz vs Stade Brestois 29: Friday 19:00 – @FRfootballWillG
As has been the case for most of the season, Metz have once again stuttered in their bid for promotion. No wins in three after three consecutive wins sums up their campaign, with the Lorraine side now 5th in Ligue 2 and not looking any more likely to grab the final promotion place. Troyes loanee Christian Bekamenga, failed at Lens, has helped to bolster their attacking options though the squad still remains bereft of flair and the talent that Nancy and Dijon possess. The race for 3rd however is still wide open, with anyone down to Auxerre in 8th in with a chance.
Going into the final 11 matches this one is surely a must win. Coach Hinschberger switched to a 442 last week for the first time this season and he is likely to do the same again, especially given the impressive performance of youngster Habib Diallo. The shining light in this team has been Yeni N’Gbakoto whose form has dipped of late, and they will need his contribution in the run-in if they are going to go up. They are boosted by the return of Thomas Didillon in goal and will be confident of their chances against a misfiring Brest side.
If Metz can be described as inconsistent then another adjective is needed for Alex Dupont’s men, who only two weeks ago recorded back to back wins for the first time this season. They sit in 10th place, a real indication of their topsy-turvy form this year, and have tinkered to find a successful formula, with 442 and 433 used from week to week. Senegalese centre back Vieux Sane has not had the impact that had been hoped for since arriving from Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt but remains their standout defender in a very poorly balanced side. They have been wasteful at the other end of the field as well and Dupont has rotated accordingly between Adnane, Alphonse and Joseph-Monrose in an effort for goals.
Events behind the scenes have not helped the club’s poor on the field situation either, with coach Alex Dupont set to leave at the end of the season as well as club President Yvon Kermarec, who has been notable for his public outbursts at the Stade-Le-Ble. Brest will now be focusing their efforts on rebuilding for next year already, with an outside push for 3rd incredibly unlikely, so a massive overhaul of the playing staff can be expected.
Bourg-en-Bresse v Clermont Foot: Friday 19:00 – @meatmansoccer
Newly promoted side Bourg-en-Bresse had a great first half of the season, but since the winter break they’ve had less to celebrate. Prior to January they were renowned for a great goalscoring ability, mixed in with a dodgy defence. They lost a lot of matches but a low number of draws was actually the key to their success. Since the start of 2016 though, it seems this team has gone into its shell a bit, scoring just three goals in seven games. They sold key striker Pape Sane to Caen but he’s been loaned back for the rest of the season. Sadly his form has dropped badly though and to make matters worse he’s also currently injured. Fellow strike partner Lakdar Boussaha is another casualty for this contest. Suddenly, this small squad seems to be under a lot of pressure and their true ability level appears to be showing.
Clermont travel here hoping to increase the pressure on those in the top three. A poor run of four losses in six games means that Corinne Diacre’s men are now five points behind Red Star. They did however manage to return to winning ways last week thanks to a 2-1 victory facing Niort. That scoreline actually flattered Niort, and Clermont should’ve won by a much bigger margin. Key defender Cedric Avinel is still injured, but that might not be an issue against a Bourg-en-Bresse side who are suddenly goal shy. The big strength of Clermont lies in the final third with the likes of Famara Diedhiou and Remy Dugimont leading the line. The Auvergne outfit are the third highest scoring team in the division, and this is no fluke because they have numerous weapons. The visitors have only won two away games all season and do tend to struggle on the road. But considering the recent form of their opponents, this is a great chance to pick up a maximum points haul.
Red Star vs Nimes: Saturday 13:00 – @FRfootballWillG
Since Red Star had their unbeaten run ended by Lens in the first game of the new year they have gone from strength to strength and have embarked on another run of their own. After seven matches without defeat (4W, 3D) they have climbed into the 3rd promotion place for the first time this season, quite a remarkable achievement for a team just promoted from the National. Rui Almeida has created a winning formula that has been unremarkable however, with a consistent team selection built on a solid defence and goals being shared across the entire squad. Last week’s winner for example came from centre half Pierrick Cros (not to be confused with their goalkeeper Pierrick Cros) meaning Sliti and Bouazza’s contributions have been less vital of late.
Should Red Star gain promotion to Ligue 1 it would cause all manner of logistical issues given they are currently loaning a stadium, but the financial impact for the club would be unprecedented. They look well set for a real push in the last 11 games however, with new recruit Fernando Aristeguieta adding further quality to the squad and the team retaining a great knack of staying in games despite being under the cosh.
At the opposite end of the table Nimes are another huge success story. Despite being deducted eight points at the start of the season (rather than relegation to the National) for historical match-fixing offences they have defied the odds after an abysmal start and now sit pretty in 16th place. Their form since the turn of the year has been astonishing, with six wins from eight matches and five of them coming at home. They have certainly made the Stade des Costieres a fortress and this was summed up in their last minute victory over Metz on Monday thanks to midfield ace Ousmane Cissokho. Without their eight point deduction they would be sitting in 10th place after nine wins, nine draws and nine defeats.
They have been dealt a huge blow however for the coming weeks, with one of two star strikers ruled out for the foreseeable future after Anthony Koura sustained a horrible back injury on Monday night. Bernard Blaquart will have to adjust his attacking options accordingly but the team will fancy their chances of beating anyone at the moment.