There are some background notes on Auxerre in the Tours preview above, they must have been a little crestfallen after dropping all three points there, a win would have taken then to within two of the automatic promotion spots and with all the momentum they could wish for behind them. However, they have had a full week to take a half step back, reflect on what they have achieved and also that the four clubs immediately above them in the table all dropped points last week and that making up five points, with 18 to play for is still do-able and they have three of their next four at home after today and the very least they can do is put some pressure on the teams who sit in 3rd-6th and see how far that takes them. I do not doubt for one minute that they will be all guns blazing for the win this evening, against a woeful opponent, who are effectively 12 points from safety and already preparing for third tier football, as they largely have been for 11 months, after earning a late, off the pitch reprieve from relegation last season. Auxerre have lost only twice on the road all season, Chateauroux have already lost seven times at home, they have lost their last six starts against top half teams without scoring ( 16-0) including their last home match, a 2-0 defeat to GFCO Ajaccio, where we were firmly on the visitor and ahead of which I wrote ......
"There are brief notes on Chateauroux ahead of their trip to Tours last weekend at the foot of this email (see April 10 newsletter), they lost that 1-0 and it could/should have been far worse , with the woodwork saving them three times. They are effectively ten points from safety, with games fast running out and booked for third tier football next season . Today, they do get central defender Cedric Hountondji (see below) back in the line up, but are even shorter of options, with veratile and most experienced defender Laurent Bonnart injured ( conceded 9 goals in the last 323 minutes he has sat out) along with suspended defensive midfielder Emeric Dudouit. With a host of other injuries, Chat have named just four defenders, three of who are aged 21 or younger, one of the few bright lights on a very dismal season has been teenage offensive midfielder Hamza Sakhi who is also sidelined, hosts have lost four of the six starts he has missed, conceding 14 goals. The home side have underperformed badly against top 7 teams, losing their last four by a combined 13-0 and will have to open up and gamble today with a young and vulnerable backline."
The hosts do have Houtondji and Bobbart ( see above) back today , but Dudoit and Sakhi (again, see above) are still absent along with a handful of others and we will again see a lot of young inexperienced players today, who are going to be a far happier and more comfortable at the lower level next season, where they might even thrive. A loss today will probably mean that relegation will be confirmed on the road next week, rather than on home soil the week after and at lest subconsciously, they might prefer that.
Auxerre have a couple of issues, Sammaritano and Viale , had some family and gastric problems respectively, but have been named in the squad and are expected to join up with them later today and I prefer to take that as an indication of how seriously the visitors are taking this, that they are doing everything to get the pair on the pitch. Sébastien Puygrenier is suspended and there is nothing Auxerre can do about that (!), the central defender has , incredibly, played every single minute of all L2 and Coupe de France games this season and whilst youngster Sonhy Sefil has played in all three league cup ties, he only has 168 minutes of league action to his name and we do not really know how the absence of Puygrenier, who is very much leader of the backline will affect the team. Not enough to lose, but they might be a little more vulnerable than usual and we really should see both teams on the scoresheet, with Chat having no reason to sit back. I think that it is time for them to adopt the approach that if we cannot win, let's at least look to entertain.
1.5 units Auxerre -0.5 ball 2.08 asian line/Sportmarket.
1.25 unit "over" 2.5 goals 2.23 asian line/Sportmarket.
Châteauroux : Bonnefoi, Souchaud - Hountondji, Bain, Nestor, Obiang, Bonnart - Roudet, Plessis, Ca, Kamara, Zola, Koffi - Thil, Makengo, Nnomo.
Auxerre : Lembet, Léon - Aguilar, Castelletto, Djellabi, Fontaine, Sefil - Ait Ben Idir, Bouby, Kilic, Mulumba, Vincent - Berthier, Diarra, Fumu-Tamuzo, Nabab, Sammaritano, Viale.