Nice lost 3 important points last round away at Nantes, and their hopes for Champions League football diminished considerably. The game was very balanced, but in the end Nantes were more pragmatic and managed to take all points (won 1-0).
Nice are now fighting for the 4th place in Ligue1, but their confidence is shattered after last round. There are two more rounds to be played, and if Nice won’t recover fast they risk losing the 5th place, that will assure a direct qualification in Europa League.
The defensive strength will clearly increase this round, as they welcome back fullback Pereira and central defender Le Marchand after suspension.
St Etienne were really lucky to get away with a draw last round against Toulouse (finished 0-0). Although they haven’t conceded, from a defensive point of view St Etienne were disastrous. Keeper Ruffier made some incredible saves and denied Toulouse 3 vital points.
Most probably things will get even more complicated for St Etienne, as they will miss both regular central defenders, Bayal Sall due to injury and Perrin due to suspension.
St Etienne were very soft in the attacking phase, and even if key winger Hamouma returned from injury, they barely managed to have a decent shot on target.
The stake of the game is too big for Nice and St Etienne to adventure upfront. This can be a really boring game, especially since both sides seem to be out-of-form and may concentrate on not making and errors.
UPDATE: Nice welcome back defenders Bodmer, Le Marchand and Pereira.
Nice: Hassen, Cardinale – Bodmer, Le Marchand, Baysse, Genevois, Pied, R.Pereira – Seri, Hult, Mah.Traoré, Walter, Wallyson, N.Mendy, Koziello – Ben Arfa, Plea, A.Mendy, Germain, P.Puel
St Etienne: Ruffier, Moulin – Théophile-Catherine, Tabanou, F.Pogba, Malcuit, Assou-Ekotto, Pierre-Gabriel, Polomat – Pajot, Clément, Cohade, Eysseric, Corgnet, Lemoine – Roux, Maupay, Hamouma, Monnet-Paquet