AJ Auxerre v FC Metz: Ligue 2 Preview – Week 33
Auxerre had a great 2-0 win against Red Star a few weeks ago away from home which looked to have moved them back into the promotion race. However, back to back defeats to Bourg-en-Bresse and RC Lens appears to have ended any lingering hopes of a top three finish.
The Burgundy outfit are nine points adrift of that spot now so don’t have much left to play for this season except pride. Coach Jean-Luc Vannuchi has talked about ending the campaign as strongly as possible and to try to play in a free and relaxed manner.
Auxerre’s only major injury is to defender Thomas Fontaine, but he’s been out since late October so it’s something they’ve been used to. Even the often-injured playmaker Vincent Gragnic is in the squad tonight, although will likely start from the bench. Midfielder Samed Kilic is suspended, but he wouldn’t have been a guaranteed start anyway. Auxerre have an average home record this season and have failed to win any of their last four matches at Le Stade de l’Abbe Deschamps.
The visitors beat Niort 2-0 last week and name the same squad for this match, with the exception of one change: winger Kevin Lejeune is injured and this is a slight blow for les Grenats. Lejeune is a good creative player and also offers good defensive support if needed. He has only started two matches since the winter break though (the last two) due to injury so it’s not as if Metz aren’t used to life without him. Coach Philippe Hinschberger continues to leave out the defensive duo of Gomes and Palomino due to poor performances.
Metz are right in the hunt for promotion, just one point off Le Havre and they head into this match on the back of three consecutive victories. They have the fourth best away record in the league and they are expected to be fairly positive in this game considering their confidence.
Motivation could play a big part in this match. Auxerre don’t really have a lot at stake and look nailed on to finish around upper mid-table. Metz however, could land a great promotion prize and will be looking to continue their winning streak. The match certainly means more to them, although the increased pressure might hinder them a little bit. Auxerre can play with freedom but considering they might lack a slight edge compared to their opponents, you’d have to favour an away win.
Prediction: Auxerre 1-2 Metz