Last round St Etienne applied the same strategy as two rounds ago against Lyon. They focused mostly on destroying everything opponents tried to create and strike unexpectedly after fast and precise actions.
They won 2-0 away at Montpellier without much emotions and even played in 10 for about 15 minutes.
After scoring to weeks ago striker van Wolfswinkel delivered an assist last round. His form is good and this is exactly what St Etienne needed, an in-form and confident striker.
Winger Hamouma was out injured but replacement Mollo was very determined and seems set on making the best of this opportunity.
Hosts may once again miss midfielders Hamouma and Clement who are highly doubtful. Central midfielder Diomande will also miss through suspension so most likely Cohade and Lemoine will partner in central midfield. This is a solid and reliable formula and many Ligue1 clubs would only dream of having such options available.
Defender Sall will return to the lineup after being suspended last round.
Bastia scored early last round against Evian, considered themselves winners way before the final whistle, got superficial in efforts and ended up with no points (lost 2-1).
In Bastia’s case superficiality corroborated very limited capabilities is the perfect recipe for disaster.
Long balls play a huge role when it comes to building up play, but for this strategy to work they need a striker with decent skills. Striker Tallo seems to be the best choice so far but he is once again highly doubtful.
In case Bastia succeed in creating dangerous actions by other means instead of long balls, everything can go down the drain since there is no capable player of applying the finishing touch.
Bastia will welcome back defenders Squillaci and Diakite after suspension.
St Etienne’s defense looks really strong and since Bastia have a crippled offense the chances for guests to score are close to zero. Even if sometimes St Etienne seem to lack inventivity, the constant pressure should help them in scoring a couple of goals and get a comfortable victory. St Etienne -1.25 at 2.13
UPDATE: Good news for hosts as they welcome back winger Hamouma. Bastia can count on forward Tallo who returns after injury. Same bet.
St Etienne: Ruffier, Moulin – Brison, Bayal, L.Perrin, F.Pogba, Tabanou, Théophile-Catherine – Lemoine, Cohade, M.Chapuis – Corgnet, Gradel, Mollo, Monnet-Paquet, Van Wolfswinkel, J.Bamba, Hamouma
Bastia: Areola, J-L.Leca – D.Diakité, Cioni, Modesto, Palmieri, Marange, Peybernes, Djiku, Romaric – Gillet, Cahuzac, Ab.Keita, Boudebouz, F.Koné – Maboulou, Kamano, Ongenda, Tallo