Not much happened in Montpellier’s camp this winter. They still have the same injured players: midfielders Stambouli, Saihi and Ait fana, and the same suspended player until the end of the season: fullback Jeunechamp.
They haven’t addressed their upfront issue and will continue to struggle with either Herrera or Charbonnier, both of them clearly under the level required for French title holders…
Midfielder Belhanda is gone at the African Cup of Nations. Nigerian Utaka should have been there as well, but fortunately for them he’s not and will be available for this game.
They will have to be inventive and adapt a player to the role of defensive midfielder, to play next to Estrada. Otherwise they will be using the same team we know. Regardless of missing Belhanda and the lack of a genuine striker, hosts still have the upper hand in this game. They can compensate lacking a striker with the qualities of their offensive midfielders: Utaka – Camara – Cabella. The defense has a lot of potential with Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, Bedimo and Congre. Considering how this game will come after a long period of rest, Montpellier’s offensive midfielders should have the power and stamina to make efforts for the entire 90 minutes, and this will make all the difference.
Lorient were punching above their weight just before the break. They had a nice series of consecutive wins, and further more, there were many games in which they kept a clean sheet.
That was really an achievement for them, as they had one of the most changed defense in this league. They speculated the bad moments of their opponents and got many points when (in some cases) they deserved none…
Their major problem is when defending on their left flank. Baca will most probably be the starter over there. he’s hesitant and cloud headed and won’t stand a chance in front of Utaka, his direct opponent.
They will also be without a couple of important players: forward Traore gone at CAN, midfielder Romao at CAN, offensive midfielder Corgnet injured, and defenders Lautoa, Kone and Le Lan. Lautoa and Le Lan are by far their most stable defenders.
There are little to no chances for Lorient to grab anything from this encounter. The odds on Montpellier may be too high, even if they miss Belhanda and will improvise a defensive midfielder. Home win