SC Bastia v FC Lorient : Ligue 1 – Week 29 Preview
A match between the teams in eleventh and tenth might not seem to have much riding on it, but such is the weirdness of the Ligue 1 table this season that both are only four points off a theoretical European spot.
Bastia’s home form continues to impress, third in the domicile table behind only PSG and Lyon. They have won nine, drawn none, and lost four at Armand-Cesari, and only PSG have stopped them scoring. At home their last loss was to Monaco in game 17, since when they have four wins, four clean sheets, and one game postponed for public order fears (against Nantes, to be played on 9 March). Add to that their customary position at the bottom of the fair play table with 59 bookings and nine sendings off and their reputation as difficult opponents is well-earned.
Lorient continue to be enthusiastic in attack (joint second on 40 goals) and haphazard in defence (fourth-worst with 41 conceded) and come into this after midweek success in the Coupe de France, beating Gazelec 3-0 to set up a semi-final meeting against PSG. They are still missing top-scorer Benjamin Moukandjo through injury, but Abdul Majeed Waris and Benjamin Jeannot have 13 between them in the league and another eight players have chipped in from a variety of positions, making it tricky to shut them down.
Bastia don’t score much, with only 27 in the For column, and while they also have eleven scorers in the league, after Floyd Ayite on seven, nobody has more than three (Gael Danic, Brandao). Again, however, the majority of their goals come at home (19) where their defence is also robust with only ten conceded of their 29 in total. For once, they don’t seem to have any suspensions on the pitch although Julien Palmieri needs to watch himself on social media after picking up a three-game suspended ban for things said after the injury-time penalty for Guingamp in game 22; off the pitch, President Pierre-Marie Geronimi has a two month stint on the naughty step (one month suspended), ditto.
The stands in Bastia may be less lively than usual, as there is a ban on travelling fans for this match and the postponed Nantes fixture, and the club has been called up before the Disciplinary Commission to answer for their fans’ behaviour at three separate matches, resulting in a terse plea for people to stop setting off flares as a) it is costing them a fortune and b) any further incidents could result in the stadium being suspended. Given how important home advantage is to Bastia’s position in the table, this would be a difficult sanction to bear. One of the fan groups « Bastia 1905 », with the support of the club, will be organising a collection in support of one of their members, Maxime, injured by a flashball after the match at Reims.
This will likely be a close encounter, as Lorient’s scoring form crashes up against Bastia’s home dominance, and the odds back that up, the home team with the slight advantage at 2.6, against 2.9 for the visitors and 3.0 for the draw (indicative). Tricky to call, therefore, and possibly a tense atmosphere given all the off-pitch issues; but tempting to see this as a first draw of the season in Bastia.
Bastia : Vincensini, Leca, Cioni, Squillaci, Modesto, Peybernes, Palmieri, Mostefa, Fofana, Cahuzac, Coulibaly, Ngando, Danic, Diallo Brandao, Ayité, Kamano, Raspentino.
Lorient : Lecomte, Chaigneau, Gassama, Rose, Touré, Musavu-King, Bellugou, Guerreiro, Le Goff, Barthelmé, Cabot, Mesloub, Ndong, Mulumba, Abdullah, Philippoteaux, Jeannot, Waris
LIGUE 1 PREDICTIONS