OGC Nice v Stade de Reims: Ligue 1 Preview – Week 35
The Ligue 1 season is getting down to the final weeks, four games left and if you have visions of playing in Europe next season, now, in this congested table, is the time to make your move.
It may have seemed like a dream scenario for OGC Nice at the start of the campaign, but Les Aiglons are serious contenders now, but that has to continue on Friday night against Stade de Reims.
Despite going 1-0 up away against Olympique Lyonnais and playing a huge portion of the game with an extra man, Claude Puel’s side may feel a little disappointed that they could only come away from the Parc OL with a point. They go into the game just four points off Monaco in second and two behind last Friday’s opponents in third.
However, Friday’s game will be no walkover. Stade de Reims, wounded after losing the Champagne derby with Troyes – amazingly ESTAC’s first home win of the season – need to pick up as many points as possible or they could face a drop to Ligue 2.
Olivier Guégan’s team are only two points ahead of Gazelec Ajaccio, who themselves have a winnable home derby date against Bastia on Sunday. Only three teams have a worse away record than Reims, but any point on Friday could be crucial to their survival.
The exciting trio of Hatem Ben Arfa, Alassane Plea and Valere Germain will lead the Nice attack, but so much will rely on the vital midfield trident of Jean Michel Seri, Vincent Koziello and Nampalys Mendy; if they can win that battle in the middle of the park, you have to believe they will create chances in the final third.
Jaba Kankava is suspended for Reims – he will be a huge loss to Guegan’s team. Odair Fortes is injured and Thievy Bifouma, Mohamed Fofana, Diego and Abdelhamid El-Kaoutari all miss out – leaving Reims a little light.
Mahamane Traore, Mathieu Bodmer and Michel Le Bihan will miss the game for Nice, but Puel can call on most of his normal starting XI – which must make the home side heavy favourites to put the pressure on the other European contenders this weekend.
Prediction: Nice 2-0 Reims
LIGUE 1 PREDICTIONS