Both teams made good games last round and can be considered to be in-form.
Toulouse won away at Nice (2-0) after a game in which they imposed the rythm and had the best of chances. From a defensive point of view they looked pretty solid, but keep in mind their opponents were in an offensive standstill.
When we look further up the field Toulouse’s problems start to add up. First of all they may still be without winger Akpa-Akpro (doubtful once again). They rely a lot on building actions on the flanks, and not having continuity in that area can be decisive.
Even if Akpa-Akpro will eventually play, Toulouse have problems in seeing the open spaces and exploiting them. Besides Chantome, there’s no other player at least trying to activate teammates with through balls. Attacking midfielder Trejo is useless in that aspect, and not only in that aspect. He played 23 games so far and delivered only 1 assist…
Toulouse will welcome back defensive midfielder Aguilar but forward Braithwaite is doubtful and may miss this game.
Reims is a heavily organized team. A couple of rounds ago they had some problems with injuries and conceded way over their normal average, but now all players are fully fit and ready for action.
The 3 central midfielders (Oniangue, Krychowiak and Devaux) represent Reims’ engine. They are the first line of defense in-front of which most opponents fail to find solutions. Don’t get the wrong impression now, they are no fortress, only the way they manage to mobilize is sometimes exemplary.
Central defender Weber suffered a knock last round but is nothing serious. Fullback Mandi will return after being suspended last week.
There’s no doubt the key battle will be carried in central midfield, where Toulouse’s play-maker Chantome will have a hard time finding some open spaces and launch balls for the 2 forwards.
Bookies make Toulouse big time favorites, but the game will be much more balanced than the odds suggest.
UPDATE: Striker Braithwaite is available for Toulouse. Winger Ayite suffered an injury and will be missed by guests.
Toulouse: Blondel, Boucher – Aurier, Spajic, I.Sylla, Veskovac, Yago, Zebina – Trichard, Chantôme, Didot, Furman, Sirieix, Trejo, Aguilar – Ben Basat, Ben Yedder, Braithwaite
Reims: Agassa, Placide – Weber, Conte, Mandi, Turan, Tacalfred, Signorino – Krychowiak, Albaek, Oniangué, Fortes, Devaux, Ca – Atar, Courtet, Charbonnier, De Préville