Toulouse v Bastia: Ligue 1 Preview – Week 33
Whisper it but Toulouse are giving themselves a chance at making an almost unforeseen escape from relegation. It was only a few weeks ago that many, including this writer, were condemning Toulouse to the drop. To their credit, since the arrival of Pascal Dupraz, new life seems to have been injected into the side. A draw away to Marseille was followed up with a convincing 4-0 win at home to Bordeaux. A loss at Lille was sandwiched by the Bordeaux game and a victory against Caen. All of a sudden Toulouse are only four points from safety. That makes Saturday evening’s home game against Bastia all the more important. Victory could bring them to within one point of that crucial 17th place. The form of key attackers Wissam Ben Yedder and Martin Braithwaite has been key of late but so has some unexpected defensive solidity with only two goals conceded in four games. Too often this season the Toulouse defence has looked disorganised and chaotic with players looking like they had never played together, but now the likes of Issa Diop, Marcel Tisserand and Francois Moubandje actually look like they are communicating with each other and playing as a unit.
In Bastia – not in Bastia – Toulouse arguably couldn’t be facing more perfect opposition. Their 2-1 win at the Furiani against Marseille has pretty much guaranteed their survival once again. They have only won away from Corsica twice this season but in Francois Kamano and Gael Danic they have two players in good form. Against Marseille, Kamano was at his best and gave the likes of Karim Rekik and Nicolas Nkoulou problems all game. Bastia should welcome back top scorer Floyd Ayite who missed the Marseille game with a knock, but Sebastien Squillaci, Florian Raspentino and Sadio Diallo look set to miss out through injury. With credit being given to Dupraz at Toulouse, Bastia coach Francois Ciccolini must also receive praise. Following the departure of Ghislain Printant back at the end of January, Ciccolini has managed to steady the ship and steer the Corsican side away from danger with high-profile wins against Lyon, Marseille and away at Nice.
With Dupraz well used to relegation dogfights, Toulouse have the perfect man at the helm for their current situation, and while teams just above them are struggling for points, the recent form of le Tef looks like it has arrived at the perfect time. Bastia could be forgiven for letting their foot off the pedal a little with safety pretty much assured. Everything seems to point to a home win, and if Toulouse pull it off we could be in for an exciting battle at the bottom.