Les Crocos have been dealt a severe blow by the news that goalkeeper Mathieu Michel looks set for a move to Ligue 1. He was always going to depart at some stage, but fans would’ve hoped it happen either at the end of the season or in January. Taking over in between the sticks will be Gauthier Gallon, who is a pretty big downgrade. Michel was one of the best (if not the best) keepers in Ligue 2 and will be sorely missed. Nimes are also still without one of their starting centre backs Fethi Harek who remains suspended. Les Crocos have picked up just one point from two games and have yet to score in the ligue this season. They were also knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue by lower division side Châteauroux. So things could certainly be better for the southern side. I have to say they were highly unfortunate last week against Le Havre, pushing the promotion favourites very hard. I’m not sure how they lost the game and poor finishing cost them. Nimes have recently signed winger Karim Ait Fana who they'll hope solves their issue on the left hand side.
The visitors aren’t without issues at the back either. Big man Dejan Cvetinovic could be out of action up for up 6 weeks because of injury and he joins young left wing back Akim Zedaka. New signing Mohamed Fofana is suspended for a couple of games, whilst the potentially key Loic Landre isn’t included in the squad due to a possible move away. New coach Alain Casanova has been using a 3-5-2 formation this season which I personally think hasn’t been working properly. There’s been some talk he might change this system, but he’s usually someone who sticks with something for a long time and I’d be surprised if he didn't at least give it another few games. Lens are still missing midfielder Patrick Olsen (inj) and striker Jonathan Nanizayamo both to injuries, but do include new attacker Teddy Chevalier in their squad for the first time this season. I’m not sure what sort of physical state he’s in but he could add some much needed firepower and clinical touch to their side.
Conclusion & betting analysis
Le Stade des Costieres is a good venue for football. The Nimes fans are very passionate and generate a good atmosphere. The stadium is usually well attended for Ligue 2 level and Lens will always bring plenty of supporters as well. I actually think we could be in for an exciting evening of football. Both sides may well be quite attack minded and due to weaknesses at the back, this fixture might yield some goals. Nimes have yet to score this season but it’s not been for lack of chances. Sooner or later those opportunities will turn into goals. The general standard of their play has been quite good and at worst I think they’ll draw tonight. Lens are one of those teams who will always be overrated by the bookies due to reputation. Over the course of the season Les Sang et Or should be one of the better teams, but right now don’t look great. They couldn't beat a poor looking Niort or Tours and this will be a far tougher challenge. So I like backing Nimes on a DNB handicap @ decent odds. I’d say over 2.25 goals is also worth a punt due to both sides missing key defensive players. With the likely open nature of the match, a home win with both teams scoring is my overall prediction.
Recommended bet 1 unit: Nimes DNB @ 2.11 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)
Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.25 goals @ 2.06 (minimum odds acceptable 1.80)