I think we will see goals here. Nimes were on yet another second half of the season charge, which has become their MO in recent campaigns and which we touched upon ahead of win at Arles back in February ....
The visitors have run into a little form, they are unbeaten in five and have won their last two on the road, scoring six goals. This is kind of par for the course with them as they were the strongest non promoted team in Ligue 2 through the second half of the campaign in 2012-13 and last year collected 59% of points after the half way stage to haul themselves out of the drop zone. They are a team who get stronger through the second half of the season and we should keep an eye on them for the next month or two.
Earlier in the season I wrote .....They (Nimes) managed to secure their safety with a bit to spare and with coach Marsiglia having had the whole summer to switch things around, Gragnic and Bouby have left with one or two others and in have come a mixture of experience and youth .Toifilou Maoulida has scored a sackful of goals in the top flight, but even at veteran stage knows where the back of the net is and has scored 13 goals in each of his last two campaigns at this level. Feteh Harek has played 57 games for Bastia in the top flight over the last two seasons and was virtually ever present in their two promotion campaigns. Fabien Barillon was Istres most important defender and wanted by several teams, Argentine Pedro Galván is a dark horse, he has signed from Israeli football, where he scored a mountain of goals from midfield and Larry Azouni is a French U20 international on loan from Marseille. They look to have a few goals in them and I am keen to see Galvan and Maoulida at this level.
Marsiglia moved on over a difference of opinion several months ago and has been replaced by José Pasqualetti who did a wonderful job for many years in terribly difficult circumstances at Istres, that would also not have helped contribute to a fast start and it has taken time for everything to come together. Maoulida, Harek and Barillon have all been virtual ever presents and the team slowly improved based around their vast experience. Riad Nouri has built a real understanding with seven goal striker Maoulida and is on course for his best season in several years, he is another with a big Istres connection and this is a together group who know each other well, with a very nice mixture of youthful potential and veteran knowledge.
However, news that they were to be relegated at the end of the season due to match rigging (subject to appeal) broke before the recent Tours game and naturally ( see the Tours-Chat preview below) it has had a stalling effect, they did beat Tours in a very gutsy performance, where they trailed twice, but there were signs there that matters were starting to catch up with them and there was no comeback last week and they lost 3-1 at Auxerre . However, they are "only" six points off third, so will surely gamble for the three today, with eight teams above them a draw is vitually worthless, they get top scorer Toifilou Maoulida back today, seven of his ten goals have come at home and 7 of his last 8 against teams battling relegation, so he will surely be looking to add to that number today.
Clermont have posted back to back wins and given themselves a six point buffer over the drop zone, they have scored twice in their last three starts and look sure to notch at least one today against a host who can only play on the front foot and who have conceded an average of 1.3 goals in their last ten home starts. The visitors won the reverse fixture 3-0 and have scored on four of their last five visits to Nimes, they remain without top scorer Idriss Saadi, but he has not played in almost three months or scored since before Christmas and they have long since learned to deal with his absence. It would not take much for this to get streched, Nimes last three home starts have seen 7 goals before the break, Clermont's last four matches have produced six FH goals and if there is just one today, for either team, it should be the catalyst for an end to end encounter.
1.5 units "over" 2.5 goals 2.16 asian line/Sportmarket.
Nîmes : Michel, Gallon - Cordoval, Harek, Barrillon, Renaut, Élie, Robail, Kovacevic, Briançon, Hsissane, Parpeix, Maoulida, Mendy, Vlachodimos, Koura, Omrani, Nouri.
Clermont : Jeannin, L'Hostis - Agounon, Avinel, Bockhorni, Konongo, Laporte, Martin, Salze - Capelle, Diogo, Ekobo, Goncalves, Moulin - Diedhiou, Dugimont, Nkololo, Rivas.