It was a surprise to see St Etienne being dominated away at Bastia last round. St Etienne barely created a real goal scoring opportunity and failed miserably when trying to push the game forward (lost 1-0).
We can not talk about them lacking motivation as St Etienne are still chasing the 4th position that will assure a Europa League presence. Coach Galtier is the main responsible for the negative result as he started with only 3 offensive minded players (forward Erdinc and wingers Hamouma and Gradel). The central midfield was concentrated exclusively on the defensive phase and as a consequence St Etienne was forced to build up play only down the flanks.
If coach Galtier will continue to use 3 defensive minded central midfielders, and will leave attacking midfielders Corgnet and Mollo on the bench, St Etienne don’t have many chances to play in Europe next season.
Guests will welcome back fullback Tabanou who was suspended last week.
Many are wondering how come coach Puel hasn’t made some significant changes to lineup since Nice have nothing to play for anymore and Puel is known for having affinities for young players. The only one who was given a chance last round was young forward Honorat who played for about 10 minutes. Nice have a couple of talented players both on the bench and at the youth team who could be starters in the next rounds.
Nice are 5 points above the relegation zone with 9 points to play for until the season ends. But a scenario in which Nice can relegate is not really realistic especially seeing that they will welcome Lens next round…
With about half an hour until the game starts lineups should be checked and if St Etienne will have at least one attacking central midfielder then a bet on St Etienne -1 would be a smart choice, especially if Nice will make one or two changes to the lineup.
UPDATE: Hosts welcome back midfielder Lemoine and central defender Perrin after injury.
St Etienne: Ruffier, Moulin – Brison, Théophile-Catherine, Clerc, Bayal Sall, L.Perrin, F.Pogba, Tabanou – Clément, Corgnet, Nguemo, Diomandé, Lemoine – Hamouma, Erding, Mollo, Gradel, Monnet-Paquet
Nice: Hassen, Delle – Amavi, Bodmer, Genevois, K.Gomis, Palun, G.Puel – Carlos Eduardo, Digard, Eysseric, Hult, N.Mendy, Bauthéac, Albert – Pléa, Bosetti, Maupay