Friday, March 07, 2014

France: Ligue 2 ..............


We previewed Brest on Tuesday , ahead of their postponed home game with Angers...

Big game for both, a single point would take the hosts out of the bottom three, all three would, amazingly for this stage of the campaign, take them above five clubs (maybe six) and as high as 12th.

Brest have won three in a row and have served us well in the last two, however, if you sat down and planned your ideal sequence of games in Ligue 2, Auxerre and Laval at home and CA Bastia on the road, would come very close to the dream scenario and tonight will be far tougher. Also, the fact that they will have played Monday-Friday-Tuesday in a very competitive league and short of options in key areas, has to be factored in.

My notes from Friday are reproduced below and were pretty good even if I do say so myself ! Laval did indeed score early (19th minute) with Brest finding two hugely valuable second half goals. Tonight they will again be without top scorer Nicolas Verdier (23-8-0), but midfielder Bruno Grougi has found some form to coincide with Brest's return to winning ways.After almost two seasons in which he had contributed just three goals and one assist in 46 starts, he has had two and two in his last three outings. It is hard to over estimate how influential he had been earlier , he was 36-10-10 in their promotion season of 09/10 and 33-9-6 and 34-9-6 in their two years in Ligue 1 where they eased to lower mid table safety at the higher level. He stopped scoring and assisting, Brest were relegated and looked bound for third tier football before he re-finds his touch, pretty amazing and if ever a Ligue 2 team had a talismanic player, it is he. I saw that Paddy Power who I know several of you can bet with, had 3.75 for him in the anytime goalscorer market, which seems reasonable, certainly better than 2.60 for Verdier who might be out for a month !

Defensively they are weaker today, with the loss of Malian right back Ousmane Coulibaly (22-0-0), he has missed three games this season through which Brest have collected just one point and conceded six goals, actually in the last 11 he has sat out, they are 0-1-10 and have conceded two or more goals in ten of those matches ! It has to be said that eight of those fixtures were in their relegation campaign, but it still makes very dismal reading, especially with Brest's other right sided defender Bernard Mendy, out with long term injury

Obviously, they are still without Verdier and Coulibaly again misses out and it is as you were for midweek, but they will have benefited from the extra three days rest.
Creteil are getting sucked into the heart of the relegation battle and would be overtaken by Brest, were the visitors to win this evening. The hosts are prolific and have actually scored the same number of goals as top 3 team Lens and leaders Metz, but are equally free and easy at the other end of the pitch and no team has conceded more . Tonight they are without suspended left back Augusto (21-0-2....they are 0-2-5 without him and conceded at least twice in the three home games he has missed), fringe striker Nicolas Belvito and defensive midfielder Danilson da Cruz again miss out. This is a home backline that is not up to Ligue 2 standard and which is further weakened today and meeting a newly confident and better quality visitor, but one also missing a very key defensive player. I am torn  between the "over" and the visitors with the handicap start, my head is saying the latter, so I better go with that....1.5 units Brest +0.25 ball 2.17 asian line/Ibramarket.

Créteil : Kerboriou, N’Doye I. - Da Cruz, Di Bartolomeo, Diarrassouba, Diedhiou C., Ikoko, Mahon de Monaghan - Djellilahine, Genest, Lafon, Lesage, Ndoye C., Sangaré, Seck - Andriatsima, Belvito, Essombé.

Brest : Thébaux - Moimbé, Falette, Traoré, Makonda, Chardonnet - Lejeune, Perez, Grougi, Ramaré, Dernis, Guidileye, Lesoimier - Alphonse, Sea, Ayité.
In play: Creteil have been far and away the most prolific Ligue 2 team early, with 6-1 (goals scored-conceded ) at home in the first ten minutes and scoring ten, inside the first 20 minutes. 

Good Luck.

Brest-Laval (written 28/02)

We have discussed both teams over the last seven days, Brest have been one of the few teams to do us a favour this week, when they won at CA Bastia on Monday, ahead of which I wrote ...Brest are just one place above the home side, but have an extra ten points in the bag, plus a game in hand and arrive here on the back of a win over Auxerre last week, their first in almost four months, which has give them a major confidence boost. On Friday, they meet the other bottom three team , when they host Laval and three points today would not only give them further momentum, but lift the pressure on them to win that fixture. They were a Ligue 1 side last season and have a lot more quality in their ranks than the hosts, although neither side has made the transition to Ligue 2, CAB have been unable to strengthen and make the step up, Brest came into the campaign having lost their last 11 starts in the top flight and despite a decent enough start to this season, have been unable to address the overall slide. But sometimes you have to hit the bottom ( or second bottom !) before climbing and on paper they remain a class above CAB. Coach Alex Dupont has been "able" to omit by choice, six players who played Ligue 1 football last season, including two with 53 starts appearances between them ( Mendy and Ayite), two others left behind are on loan from Monaco and Villarreal and these are just options that the hosts could only dream of.

Bastia have come from nowhere with three straight promotions, last season's third place finish surprised even them, they were ill prepared for second tier football and it was clearly a step too far and has caught up with them. Today they are without suspended centre back Mamadou Camara (22-1-1) , he is a regular starter of course, but it is hard to call anyone in this squad key. However, he also missed the game last week and all three goals came from players either able to run at the centre of the defence unchallenged or scored from headers (two) by players unmarked in the box and Brest will surely have taken note.To be honest, offensively CAB did not look too bad there and had a lot of attempts on goal, albeit mostly from distance, so this could easily develop into a shootout if the first goal come early enough, but anything less than a win, will be points lost for Brest. Away win
They won that 1-0 and a follow up win this evening might take them out of the drop zone. However, they do have that quick turnaround referred to above to contend with and also the loss of top scorer Nicolas Verdier (23-8-0), he has been replaced by Jonathan Ayité who is experienced at a higher level (see above) and who is second top scorer, albeit only with three goals. Apart from that, no changes to the squad and I suspect rotation will be absolutely minimal.
Laval are coming from losing a shootout with Istres by the odd goal in seven, a match which we previewed ....
Istres gave themselves a little breathing space last week with those three points against Tours, but are still in the heart of the relegation battle and with Laval in the bottom three, today falls firmly into the clubgowi mantra of two struggling teams equaling goals camp.

Laval's last four starts have only produced a total of two goals, but they know they have to gamble today and that their next three starts ( they also play the other two in the drop zone) are going to be season defining matches. Also, the five previous home matches they have played this season against bottom eight teams have all gone "over" at an average of 4.2 goals per game, they are without central defender Miodrag Stosic (12-0-0) and left sided midfielder Amara Baby (17-4-0) this evening, but nothing too bad and I expect them to play their part in an exciting contest.

Istres looked lively offensively last week, but in truth had little to beat, with Tours offering minimal resistance until late in the game, but we know the visitors are suspect defensively and they have not kept a clean sheet in 19 away starts, one is unlikely today, both to score and this to go "over".
This kind of falls into the two struggling teams camp, but Brest have only gone "over" in 32% of starts this season and in only two of their last 13 and are missing their top scorer, but it would not take much for this to open up and one of those "overs" was the reverse fixture.
Laval arrive beat up and without centre backs Malik Couturier (23-0-1) and Miodrag Stosic, defensive midfielder Hassane Alla (23-2-3), left winger Amara Baby (17-4-0) and right winger Sébastien Renouard (15-2-1). It is defensively they worry me and whilst I think they have a chance of winning today at decent odds (3.60+) ,  it is almost impossible to see them keeping a clean sheet given that they will leave gaps and look vulnerable at the back. We spoke about the increase in goals in Ligue 2 recently and they are still averaging 2.45 per game and I think we will see both teams score tonight and I think the best value is 1.25 units "over" 2.25 goals 2.17 asian line/Ibramarket.

Only seven road goals for Laval this season, but six came before the break and another would nicely open this match up.

Brest : Thébaux - Moimbé, Falette, Traoré, Makonda, Chardonnet, Coulibaly - Perez, Grougi, Ramaré, Dernis, Guidileye, Lesoimier - Alphonse, Sea, Ayité.

Laval : Vanhamel, Hautbois - Rippert, Perrot, Belaud, Ben Djemia - Robic, Mimoun, Adéoti, Gonçalves, Lolohéa, Tibéri, G. Coulibaly - Ma. Diallo, Bekamenga, Toudic.

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