Exactly when Nice found some consistency in the defensive phase the international break arrived. In the last three rounds Nice kept two clean sheets and that is a major achievement considering how they have been performing defensively since the season began.
The problem is that the defensive improvement came at the expense of the attacking phase. They scored only twice in the last three rounds and for Ligue1 standards that’s not exactly out of common, but for Nice that is really worrying.
Some of you may remember that Nice began to improve significantly when they transferred-in left fullback Ricardo Pereira. Until his arrival coach Puel was struggling to find a replacement after fullback Amavi left for Aston Villa in the summer. Each round coach Puel tried a new formula, converted midfielders, promoted players from the youth squad, but nothing worked and defending the left flank was Nice’s major weakness.
Well Nice will once again have major headaches in the defensive phase since fullback Pereira is suspended, along with central defender Bodmer and play-maker Wallyson. Bodmer and Wallyson are also important players but in the end they are replaceable, unlike Pereira…
Lyon entered the international break after three straight Ligue1 victories, with 7 goals scored and none conceded. Lyon have been constantly improving with each round and the chemistry levels continuously increased.
Play-maker Valbuena is now fully adapted and actions carried on the right side with fullback Jallet (or Rafael) are Lyon’s major strength. Even if opponents realize where Lyon will strike next, they simply can not take any counter measures and are always surprised by the speed and accuracy of passes.
Forward Lacazette scored a hat-trick last round when Lyon destroyed rivals St Etienne, and that should be a major confidence boost for a player who was a bit unconvincing so far.
Good news for Lyon as they will welcome back defensive players Gonalons and Umtiti after they have suffered injuries last round.
Football isn’t about one single player, but in Nice’s case Pereira’s absence will have a major impact on how they perform, especially with Lyon extremely active on that side of the field. LYON -0.25 at 1.96
UPDATE: Nice will also miss midfielder Traore who suffered an injury this week. It seems that Lyon’s defender Umtiti hasn’t recovered and will sit out. Valbuena must testify in court on Friday so his presence in the lineup is not certain. His absence will surely be a blow for Lyon but they will still have the upper hand.
Nice: Hassen, Cardinale – Baysse, Le Marchand, Genevois, Pied, Boscagli, Correia – Seri, Benrahma, Hult, Dada, N.Mendy, Koziello – Ben Arfa, A.Mendy, Germain, P.Puel
Lyon: A.Lopes, Gorgelin – J.Morel, Bedimo, Rafael, Yanga-Mbiwa, Jallet – Ferri, Darder, Gonalons, Tolisso, Mvuemba, Malbranque, Valbuena – Cornet, Beauvue, Lacazette, Del Castillo