France Ligue 2 – Reims v Red Star Preview (22/8/16)

REIMS-RS

Reims preview

The hosts are missing midfielder Antoine Devaux to injury, and joining him on the sidelines is important winger Diego Rigonato. Upfront, Gaetan Charbonnier is available again after suspension but has also picked up a knock and isn’t included in the squad. On a more positive note, new signing Ibrahima Balde (attacker) is back from injury and might even start. Balde has a strong past pedigree and was transferred for nearly £4m just a few years ago so there’s high hopes for him at Ligue 2 level. I think it’s fair to say Reims have flattered to deceive so far this season. More was expected from Michel der Zakarian’s men. Their only win was a tight 1-0 against Bourg-en-Bresse, albeit on that night they were fairly lucky. All of their matches have been tight and low scoring, a timely reminder that their new coach was renowned for his negative tactics at Nantes. They just haven’t clicked from an offensive point of view and seem to lack ideas and creativity. Matters won’t be helped by the loss of Diego who is a great technical player and supplies extremely dangerous set pieces.

Red Star preview

I talk about Reims’ offensive struggles but at least they've scored a couple of goals. Red Star have yet to hit the back of the net and are the only ligue 2 that have failed to score so far this season. This isn’t too much of a surprise, they were never expected to be an offensive juggernaut under the management of Rui Almeida. The Parisian outfit have drawn 2 of their 3 matches 0-0 and this is no shock either. The coach always sets up his side hard to break down and they picked up a high number of clean sheets last season. Brest beat them 0-3 at home last week and this rather highlights their issue if they fall behind. Defensive midfielder Florian Makhedjouf and key creative winger Hameur Bouazza aren’t included in the squad tonight. This might be to do with fitness issues but more likely to be because of the transfer attention they are receiving. Striker Anatole Ngamukol is another on the radar of some clubs but should play tonight and is in the squad.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Right now, it seems to me that Red Star are a victim of their own success. They obtained a brilliant fourth place last season and it was always going to be difficult to get anywhere near that sort of level this season. The big problem is that their best players have been raised. Already this summer they lost Da Cruz and Jeanvier, ironically both now play for Reims. A big problem is recent weeks has been guys like Sliti, Bouazza plus a couple of others linked with moves away. This speculation has obviously been in the minds of certain players and they aren’t performing. This is a difficult period for Red Star, a feeling of unsettlement. From a defensive point of view they seem fine and their main objective will be to come here and keep a clean sheet. Neither side has looked impressive going forwards and with missing offensive players on each side, this match probably won't contain many chances. Reims need to be winning this sort of fixture and it’s just a question of whether or not they can eek out a 1-0 win. The chances of a 0-0 draw are too high to warrant a bet on the hosts in my opinion, especially with odds around the 1.90 mark. It would be too risky and Red Star have always been good on the road. The bookies aren’t daft and have set a goal line between 1.75 and 2.0. I think this will end under but there’s absolutely no value there either. Overall, a match to avoid betting on and I can’t even suggest it’s ‘one to watch’ due to the potential of it being such a boring affair!

Prediction: 0-0
Recommended bet: None

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