France Ligue 2 – Orleans v Le Havre Preview (29/7/16)

ORLEANS-HAC

Orleans preview

The hosts are missing three players to injury and a couple to suspension. At the back, Anthar Yahia & Gauthier Pinaud are ruled out, whilst defensive midfielder Mathieu Ligoule continues his comeback after a lengthy knee injury. In the final third both Greg Houla & Kevin Dupuis are banned. So Orleans aren’t going to be at full strength here on their return to ligue 2. However, they look a bit better equipped this time around. Two players to watch out for are big centre back Joel Sami and playmaker Karim Ziani, who should be at a much higher level than most of their teammates. The coach played a 4-4-2 system in the national division last year but a return to this tier of football, and having to accommodate Ziani might see him switch to a 4-2-3-1.

Le Havre preview

HAC come into the game with no injuries or suspensions. There are a few players not yet physically ready for competition, such as new left winger Tarik Tissoudali. Le Havre have declared their intent to obtain promotion. It seems nothing less than that is acceptable for them this season and everyone is working towards that ambition. They haven’t exactly been setting the world alight in pre season, but what matters most is the official start of Ligue 2 competition. An interesting side story with them this week has been manager Bob Bradley being linked with EPL side Hull City. He has denied any contact but maybe this could have unsettled him or the players a little bit? Bradley is a major weapon for HAC and losing him would be a big blow.

Conclusion & betting analysis

I personally rate Le Havre as the best side in Ligue 2, but it doesn't necessarily mean they’ll start off the season with a win. Orleans will be highly motivated to improve on the last time they graced this ligue. The hosts actually played really well in a friendly last week, winning 4-0 against Auxerre. There’s no doubt that Le Havre have the better quality but Bob Bradley didn't always have a great away record in 2015/16. I think the visitors will obtain victory, but I can’t be sure. In the early stages of the campaign it's usually best to avoid betting in this type of match, and wait for the safer option of backing the big teams at home. HAC are slight favourites on a DNB line, which is tempting, but not tempting enough for me to back it. I have a feeling this match might go over 2.5 as well but it’d be too much of a risk taking anything in that market.

Prediction: 1-2
Recommended bet: None

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