Montpellier finally improved their offensive phase. Until now midfielders were the only ones trying to apply the final touch as forwards were always out-of-form.
Coach Courbis tried several formulas, among them converting winger Camara to the striker position. This happened before the winter break and it worked for a couple of rounds but pretty soon everybody realized Camara is not striker material.
Giving another chance to Paraguayan striker Barrios was the only way to go. It took him some time to fully adapt but it was worth the wait. Barrios netted a hat-trick last round and assured 3 points for Montpellier (won over Metz 3-2).
His confidence skyrocketed and the impressive performances should continue in the following rounds. At Montpellier offensive midfielders are also in great form, so from an attacking point of view everything looks wonderful at Montpellier.
Nantes changed the entire offensive department in the midweek Cup game against Lyon and managed to score 3 goals (Nantes won 3-0). This is quite an achievement for Nantes since they are usually shy upfront and were up against a powerful opponent.
Attacking midfielders Gakpe, Bedoya and N’Kodou started only on the bench, same as striker Bammou. It seems that reserves were hungry for action and entered the field more determined than ever, especially Bessat who scored a hat-trick.
After such a performance coach Der Zakarian may make some changes to the 1st lineup and 1 or 2 regular starters may be left on the bench in order to keep the offensive potential at high levels.
Nowadays Nantes are forced to improvise in defense and they use midfielder Deaux as a central defender. This happens because key central defender Djilobodji is away at the African Cup of Nations and possible replacement Djidji is fresh after injury and lacks form.
It is not usual for these sides to be in good offensive form and everyone, bookies included, are taken by surprise. The odds for a high scoring game are simply too big. Over 2.25 goals at 2.21
UPDATE: Montpellier welcome back fullback Jebbour
Montpellier: Jourdren, Ligali – Congré, Hilton, Gissi, Dabo, El Kaoutari, Deplagne, Jebbour – Marveaux, Martin, Lasne, Sanson – Mounier, Bérigaud, Barrios, Camara, Ribelin
Nantes: Dupé, Ré.Riou – Alhadhur, Cissokho, Veigneau, Vizcarrondo, Djidji – Bedoya, Bessat, Deaux, R.Gomis, Nkoudou, Veretout – Audel, Bammou, Is.Bangoura, Gakpé, Shechter