Montpellier lost key midfielder Dabo, and until now they haven’t transferred-in any replacement. Midfielder Martin and forward Yatabare also left, significantly reducing the offensive strength.
Last season Montpellier were decent enough in the defensive phase, and it was surprising to see them transferring-in a defender (Vanden Borre from Anderlecht), when obviously they need reinforcements in the creation and finishing phase.
Somehow they managed to keep playmaker Boudebouz, and this season they will once again rely on his skills for pushing the game forward. On paper they have a talented midfield with Boudebouz coordinating the play, Sanson able to make a difference thanks to his ingenuity, and young Skhiri active in all areas of the field. Unfortunately Sanson is always injured around half the season, and Skhiri however talented he may be, he severely lacks experience, leaving all the burden on Boudebouz’s shoulders.
No important transfers at Angers until now (in or out), and the only newly arrived who could be a starter is forward Toko Ekambi, who scored 11 goals for Sochaux last season.
Central midfielders NDoye and Mangani will undoubtedly be (once again) the backbone of the team. When they will be injured, Angers could be unrecognizable. Unfortunately for Angers they will have to start the new season without Mangani, who is injured at the moment. We may see a more offensive player in his place, Ketkeophomphone for example, who can also play forward or winger.
Angers were a pleasant surprise last season, they were extremely solid in defense and highly organized in midfield. All the signs are there for another decent season, especially since now they have more experience in Ligue 1.
Angers are well suited for this type of encounter, they are accustomed with defending for 90 minutes and striking on counters. Montpellier’s attacking power is mediocre and a highly organized team can resist without too many problems. ANGERS +0.25 at 2.13
UPDATE: No surprises in the squads
Montpellier: Jourdren, Pionnier – Vanden Borre, Deplagne, Rémy, Hilton, Congré, Roussillon – Saihi, Skhiri, Sanson, Boudebouz – Camara, Bérigaud, Mounié, Ninga.
Angers: Petri, Mandrea – Manceau, Traoré, Thomas, Andreu, Martinez – Santamaria, Ndoye (c), Capelle, Ketkeo, Bourillon – Sunu, Diedhiou, Toko Ekambi, Doré, Nwakaeme, Pépé