Great start of the season for Nantes as they find themselves on the 5th position after 9 rounds. Some may say they are punching above their weight and they may be right as in some games Nantes are far from convincing.
In defense Nantes can be an example even for PSG. Nantes are specialists on defending on two lines and closing down all possible spaces. The problem arises when Nantes need to take charge of the game, create dangerous chances and apply the finishing touch.
Even if recently their offensive game improved, mainly because of the good performances of play-maker Veretout and forwards Gakpe and Bammou, Nantes are still light years away from being powerful upfront. Gakpe is undoubtedly their best attacking player and whenever he’ll miss or be out-of-form Nantes’ attacking strength will be significantly reduced. The same goes if opponents understand what Nantes’ weakest point is and successful exploit it (man-mark Gakpe).
Just before the international break Reims managed to bounce back after two shameful defeats (5-0 and 3-0). The game against Bordeaux last round took many by surprise (Reims won 1-0). Bordeaux’s form was clearly superior, but most of all Reims missed a couple of players, some of them quite important. Still, in-spite those setbacks, Reims made a good game, a smart game, and especially the defensive phase was really impressive.
This round Reims will welcome back a few players that will surely boost the defensive power. Keeper Placide will return after injury, same as central defender Roberge and fullback Mavinga.
If Reims will show at least half the determination, inspiration and confidence as they did against Bordeuax then Nantes will have huge headaches in trying to approach their penalty box. Hosts are considered favorites and will try hard to honor that status, but the lack of offensive power may play tricks on them.
UPDATE: Reims are still without defender Roberge and midfielders Albaek and Bourillon.
Nantes: Re.Riou, Dupé – I.Cissokho, Alhadhur, Djilobodji, Veigneau, Vizcarrondo – Bedoya, Hansen, R.Gomis, Deaux, B.Touré, Rongier, Veretout – Audel, Aristeguieta, Nkoudou, Gakpe, Shechter
Reims: Agassa, Placide – Conte, Mandi, M.Fofana, Tacalfred, Mavinga, Signorino – Ca, Devaux, Oniangué, Fortes, Diego – Charbonnier, Courtet, Moukandjo, De Préville, Ngog