SC Bastia v FC Nantes : Ligue 1 – Week 27 Preview
While everyone else is watching the Champions League, Ligue 1 is using this midweek opportunity to catch up on some delayed matches, this one due to public order fears rather than the usual weather-related pitch-knack, as in Gazelec v Marseille, kicking off at the same time.
Some background – after the away trip to Reims in game 26, which Bastia won 1-0, there were some ugly clashes with local law enforcement that included one Bastia fan receiving a serious eye injury. After initially saying that no flashballs were used after the match, local magistrates say that one was fired at the fan, Maxime Beux, although they say he injured his eye running away when he tripped and fell. Reaction in Corsica has been pointed – and it should be remembered that M. Beux is, at least, the third person allegedly injured in such a way by a police flashball around a Ligue 1 match in the past four seasons, after Casti (Montpellier) and Lex (Lyon). So. Heated.
Anyway, back to the football. The weekend’s results are unlikely to have lifted the mood in either camp, as Bastia played out a goalless draw against Lorient, their first draw of the season at Furiani, and les Canaris had their feathers ruffled as they shipped four in the first half at Rennes in the Breton derby in the Ousmane Dembele show, and could not add to their single consolation goal even after Rennes went down to ten men for the last 20-odd minutes. This leaves Nantes in eighth spot, but only two points ahead of Bastia in eleventh, which sets up a very interesting tie.
Nantes have no stand-out scorer, so Bastia’s defence will need to keep an eye on a lot of people, as against Lorient, which they managed, but to the detriment of their attack. While the two teams’ defences are roughly equal in overall terms, Bastia’s conversion rate is significantly higher, particularly when home advantage is factored in.
One interesting sidenote is that there have been a whopping 99 red cards in Ligue 1 so far this season, and if you were looking to pick a team to make the century, Bastia – bottom of the fair play league – would certainly be on the list.
In squad news, Adryan is unavailable for Nantes, as is US international Alejandro Bedoya after suffering a muscular problem after the Rennes match. They host Angers on Sunday afternoon. Bastia don’t seem to have anyone suspended, but Sadio Diallo is out, and there are doubts about Sebastien Squillaci after François Ciccolini’s press conference yesterday, when he implied they will be resting him before the match against Lille on Saturday evening. Brandao – described by his manager as having lost weight, and doing well “on the pitch, in training, and in his head” – could start.
Nantes were slight favourites for this, based on table position, but this has swung the other way after the squad announcements (indicative Bastia 9/5, Draw, Nantes 37/20). With (again) no away fans present – and this is one stadium where rocking up on the night in search of a seat in the ‘neutral’ stands would require somethings of steel – the likely outcome would be for Bastia to get back to winning ways at home, although there shouldn’t be much in it.
Prediction: Bastia 1-0 Nantes
Bastia (4-4-2): Leca – Djiku, Modesto, Peybernes, Marange – Ngando, Cahuzac, Fofana, Palmieri – Brandao, Ayite: Subs – Vincensini, Keita, Mostefa, Coulibaly, Kamano, Danic, Romain
Nantes (4-2-3-1): Riou – Sabaly, Vizcarrondo, Djidji, Moimbé – Touré, Gillet – Thomasson, Bammou, Audel – Sala: Subs – Dupé, Dubois, Cana, Gomis, Sigthorsson, Iloki, Dongala