Le Havre - Clermont Foot 21/08
Clermont have featured heavily in my notes this season and that is kind of a theme for today, anyway, my preview of their home game with Nimes last week went a lot like this ......
"Clermont are coming off back to back league draws to start their season and a 3-1 road win at Valenciennes in midweek when I wrote .....
These two are unbeaten across two Ligue 2 games, I would perhaps expect the visitors to be perhaps more interested in the cup, with Valenciennes looking for a return to the top flight they left in 2014 and Clermont are very tough to beat at present, carrying over there fine form from the end of last season.....Clermont enjoyed a very strong finish and collected 20 points ( 2.0 per game) over their final ten matches and hauled themselves up into mid table safety after looking in trouble, finally finishing as close to Nancy in 5th as they were to the drop zone.
However, the visitors are without central defender Baptiste Martin, midfielder Farid Boulaya and their two holding players in Cedric Goncalves and veteran Eugene Ekobo and the defensive spine looks vulnerable this evening. Hosts are without winger Sigamary Diarra and are resting Sekou Baradji their senior defensive midfielder , with Lucas Tousart injured in that position and I assume, the trip to Metz on Friday in mind. I expect both teams to play with a little less intensity and again that we will see goals.
Valenciennes pushed the self destruct button in that game, being reduced to nine men inside 30 minutes, but it kept the run going for Clermont and they would not have expended too much energy there over the final hour when the match turned basically into a training session. The mood in their camp will be bouyant and in stark contrast to that on the Nimes team bus, ahead of the new season I discussed their problems.....
Over the final 10 starts (of last season), Nimes were far and away the poorest performer with just 5 points, but there were reasons for that, in that they were told they would not be promoted having forced themselves into top 3 contention and they were likely to be relegated, due to "match fixing" charges, this has now been reduced to an eight point penalty with which they will start the season, but even that is subject to appeal.
They still have the 8 point deduction and it has been proving a heavy load to carry, with Nimes continuing their poor form from last season and being scoreless through three league and cup starts, including friendlies,they are without a win in 15 starts, have failed to score in eight of those and that included a 1-0 home defeat to Clermont four months ago, tonight's opponent did the double over Nimes last season, also winning this fixture 3-0, with the match over as a contest early, 2-0 at the break and Clermont should have had at least two before they scored the first, it was an incredibly dominant showing over the opening 30-35 minutes, one of the most emphatic I saw in Ligue 2 last season and I lost count of the number of times that Clermont carved Nimes open."
They won that 1-0 which continues their very solid start to the campaign and this is a team who have been playing really well since mid March.
Le Havre, along with Nancy were the best performers over the second half of last season and already have two wins to their name this time round, however, they are coming off a 3-0 loss at Paris FC last week and that was on the back of a 2-1 home midweek cup defeat to a third tier team and suddenly, the defensive alarm bells are ringing. They might have Fabien Farnolle in goal tonight , which might help, but he has not played a Ligue 2 start in over 15 months (and only one competitive game in the interim) when he was with.......Clermont ! Bringing in a new keeper is always tricky, that will go doubly so with starting right back Issam Chebake out , they have won just twice in 12 when he plays 25 minutes or less, conceding 1.25 goals per game (otherwise 0.89pg). I am tempted by Clermont at circa 2.51 with the draw no bet option and have mulled this over for a looooooooong time, but ultimately decided that I prefer .............
Le Havre : Farnolle, Milosavljevic - Puel, Touré, Mombris, Cambon, Fortes, Mendy - Bonnet, Fontaine, Lekhal, Gamboa, Louiserre - Le Bihan, Mendes, Mousset.
Clermont : Jeannin, Caillard - Avinel, Bockhorni, Djellabi, Rivieyran, Salze - Agounon, Boulaya, Diogo, Ekobo, Espinosa, Genest, Jobello - Diedhiou, Dugimont.
over 2 goals 1.96 asian line/Sportmarket.