Le Havre preview
The promotion favourites got off to a winning start last week by beating Orleans 1-0 away. It wasn't a brilliant performance from HAC, but it ‘got the job done’ and they looked especially secure at the back. That’s all that manager Bob Bradley will ask of them on the road, it’s here at home where they’ll usually play their best football. Bradley has a great record at Le Stade Oceane since taking over, winning 10 of his last 12 here. Only Nancy & Dijon (both promoted) managed to beat them in front of their own fans whilst the American coach was at the helm. Bradley is a great manager and instills plenty of confidence and an ‘aura’ into his team. Everyone has one goal here - to get promoted and there’s an expectation to win. Their only injury concern is at left back where Samba Camara is ruled out. It’s this spot which is their one problem area full stop and Ferland Mendy will have his hands full with Renaud Ripart tonight. It’s really difficult to find a weakness in any of their other positions though.
The visitors travel with the same squad that drew with Laval 0-0 last week, minus centre back Fethi Harek who is suspended. The good news is that fellow centre back Anthony Briancon, (who is quite important) returns from injury. I do wonder what sort of condition he’s in though. Last week he was ruled out after missing most of pre season and I’d imagine there’s a bit of rust in him here - hardly ideal when you’re going to face Le Havre away. Half of this Nimes defence is new this season and I think it’ll be fairly inconsistent with some good and bad days. Most of Les Crocos’ attack force is new this year as well, and if you’ll excuse the pun might lack some teeth from time to time! A lot of goalscorers and creators left the club. It’s true on paper their replacements seem alright, but only right winger Renaud Ripart can be trusted at this point in time. The strike duo of Sissoko & Alaoui could prove to be good captures eventually, but at this stage there are more questions than answers surrounding them.
Conclusion & Betting analysis
Both teams have been involved in some entertaining contests in the last couple of years. These include 3-3 and 2-2 draws at Nimes, whilst Le Havre have won both of the last two meetings in Normandie. I think we’ll see a home win again here. Bradley has always been a really good home coach and his record at Le Stade Oceane is superb. He has got his whole team, and crucially the whole ligue believing that Le Havre are the best side in the division. Le Ciel et Marine have a certain ‘aura’ about them right now, almost a fear factor. Nimes showed last season they don’t fear anyone but I have a feeling they’ll come unstuck here. Defensively, I’m not sure they’ll be able to cope with HAC’s attacking firepower. It might be their best chance of getting something out of this match is to score a few themselves. Le Havre can be exploited on the left hand side of defence and maybe Nimes will get on the scoresheet tonight. But ultimately I expect Le Havre to claim all three points. 1.83 might look like a short price in this ligue, but when it’s on the best team at home then it could prove to be generous. I have no hesitation in pulling the trigger here and I was also tempted by over 2 goals. But after so many 0-0s last week you’d have to be brave to back an over in Ligue 2 at the moment.
Recommended bet 1 unit: Le Havre -0.5 @ 1.83 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)