Neither team impressed in the later stages before the break, but on the contrary, their performances were a bit disappointing. The Cup games (both St Etienne and Toulouse won) that were played a few days ago aren’t really relevant for their form and capabilities, since the games came after a period of inactivity and against visibly weaker opponents.
St Etienne were involved in the transfer market this winter, but their decisions seem very strange to say the least. They loaned in play maker Mollo from Nancy. This is a player that always fails and disappoints. Ever since he was 18 there was a big fuss around him in France, but years passed and he never managed to make an impression. Bringing Mollo, especially when there are players like Cohade, Hamouma and Guilavogui, with the same profile means only a wage paid for nothing…
Another transferred in is Andreas Laudrup (son of famous Michael Laudrup), ex Nordsjaelland, another midfielder.
Leaving the transfers aside, it should be said that forward Brandao will be back in the team after injury, and this will be a big boost. On the other hand, fullback Ghoulam and forward Gradel are away on duty at Africa Cup of Nations. These two are great players, but St Etienne is a big and talented squad nowadays, with enough players to cover any position.
Their midfield in 3 is specially impressive, with Guilavogui, Clement and Cohade. Clement is like a one man wall, and sometimes it seems he’s got superpowers or something, as no balls can get past him. Guilavogui and Cohade are used both at creating and preempting opponents actions. Aubameyang and Hamouma on the flanks would only be mediocre players, without Guilavogui and Cohade to serve them and make their qualities visible.
The guests, Toulouse, still haven;t solved their upfront issues: the lack of a genuine striker. In this second part of the season they will once again struggle with an improvised solution (Ben Yedder) and with always disappointing and hesitant Riviere. This is already the second season season Toulouse have to deal with this problem, and it’s really mind boggling why they refuse to solve it…
Like always they will be relying on midfielders both for creating and converting, but sadly for them, winger Tabanou, their best player, is out suspended. This will significantly reduce their capabilities upfront. Central defender Abdennour should have been away on international duty, but he received green light for playing this game and leaving after. That’s the only good news for Toulouse, as Abdennour together with Zebina is one of the best central defenses in Ligue1.
Guests won’t adventure themselves too much upfront, they surely are aware of their reduced power and will concentrate most on stopping St Etienne for creating and scoring, as defending is Toulouse’s major strength.
Possession will undoubtedly be on St Etienne’s favor and eventually, because of the quality they have in the squad, they will be able to break Toulouse’s defense and find the winner.
A final score with a minimum advantage for the home side shouldn’t be ruled out. There won’t be many goals for sure in this encounter.
There are a couple of possible bets: like under 2.5 goals at low odds (should be safe), home win at a decent price (most probable outcome) , or correct scores (1-0; 2-0) for maximum thrills.