France Ligue 1 – Nantes v Caen Preview (18/1/17)

Nantes preview

  • Les Canaris have a 100% record in the league since Sergio Conceicao took over as coach. Nantes have won all three games and yet to concede a goal under his stewardship.
  • It seems like they’ve got back their identity. With the current squad makeup, the new coach knows the strength of this team lies with its physical and defensive play. They are a tough team to break down and possess some decent players at the back.
  • The mood has definitely improved at the club but they still have plenty of work left. All three of their victories could’ve easily gone a different way on another day. For now, they've been clinical when it matters and pretty organised.
  • Starting keeper Remy Riou is injured, but backup custodian Maxime Dupe is a talented young shotstopper so there’s not a massive downgrade.
  • Everyone else of significance is available. New winter signing on the wings, Felipe Pardo is unavailable due to the rules of this re-arranged fixture.

Caen preview

  • The Normandie outfit claimed a shock win against Lyon at the weekend, beating Les Gones. That performance came out of nowhere and was impressive because they entered the round inside the relegation zone.
  • Caen played well in that game and looked good offensively. I’m not sure they’ll be given as much space here though. Nantes will be much harder to break down.
  • The visitors have listed no injuries in their squad, although the coach has taken 19 players and admitted there was a ‘doubt’ over someone but didn’t reveal who. It’s just three days since they played Lyon so maybe some rotation could occur.
  • Caen have the worst away record in the league with horrendous 0-1-8 statistics. Their solitary point picked up on the road was at Bordeaux. Every other fixture has resulted in defeat which is pretty shocking.

Conclusion & betting analysis

  • At some point, you’d think Caen’s away record will improve. However, I’m not convinced tonight will be the start of their renaissance. They simply don’t match up very well to Nantes. Caen are better when facing more open attacking sides, Nantes are a structured and disciplined outfit who think of defence first and foremost.
  • New coach Flavio Conceicao has definitely re-installed some confidence into his players. They are working really hard to pick up results and have gotten into a really good habit of claiming close victories.
  • The Nantes offense is it’s weak point. However, Caen are never convincing defensively and are sure to make some errors at some stage. The visitors are dangerous going forwards but are likely to be thwarted often by a strong physical backline.
  • I think Nantes are worth backing on a -0.25 handicap around the 1.75 mark. At the moment I rate them as the better team, and facing the worst away side in the league this bet makes sense.
  • In addition, Les Canaris have had one extra day of rest and Caen will be ‘coming down’ off a massive high. Their victory against Lyon was what I call an emotional success in which they threw the kitchen sink at their opponents. I’d say there’s a good chance they’ll be flat in this fixture.
  • This game will likely ‘mean more’ to Nantes and will focus more on it. They face PSG at the weekend so are unlikely to get anything in that. Caen meanwhile, have an upcoming home fixture against Nancy which they could have an eye on.
  • I’m torn as to whether or not this match will end over or under. Nantes are a natural under team and don’t concede many goals, but Caen are the opposite. I think 2-0 or 2-1 are the most likely scores. You have to go all the way back to early November (eight games ago) for the last time both teams scored in a Nantes game.

Prediction: 2-0

Recommended bet 1 unit: Nantes -0.25 @ 1.75 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)

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