France Ligue 2 – AS Beziers Season Preview 2018/19

Beziers defence

In goal will be Magno Novaes, a highly experienced keeper who has played numerous matches at both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 level. It looked like his days in this league were over but he gets another bite at the cherry with Beziers. Novaes’ best days are surely behind him, but he should be solid enough. Backup keeper is Vincent Viot who I know nothing about but I can’t imagine he’s anything too great. The backline has lost Kante from last season and added a couple of new players. One of those is Ousmane Sidibe from Paris FC and he should be a really good signing. Sidibe was part of a strong solid defence in Paris last season and brings a wealth of experience and quality to the club. Key players who remain from last year’s promotion campaign are Redah Atassi, Robin Taillan and Ibrahima Savane. None of these players have ever featured higher than National Division 3 level and I can’t claim to know much about them. The step up to this level can be difficult so there’s more chance of them struggling than adapting well. Beziers have made a really good defensive midfield signing in Mehdi Mostefa. He might be 35 years old now but brings a wealth of experience with him to the club. There appears to be a number of DMID type players within the squad, but their lack of appearances anything higher than Div 3 level is very worrying.

Key players - Ousmane Sidibe (DEF), Mehdi Mostefa (DM)

Beziers offense

Goals were shared around a bit last season with Ibrahim Sissoko (8), Aboubakary Kante (6) and Antoine Rabillard (7) leading the charts. None of these numbers are particularly eye catching. Perhaps there is a chance that a couple of these guys, especially Rabillard could develop at this level. He spent a few seasons at Marseille, mostly in their B team but time at such a big club has to be a positive in my opinion. Alexandre Ramalingom is a new signing from the lower leagues and he scored quite a lot of goals last season. But he never did anything whilst at AC Ajaccio which makes me dubious about whether he can step up to the mark here. I’m not entirely sure who will be the main wide options for Beziers, new signing Moustapha Bokoum from the Belgian league could be a candidate. Leading assist maker last season was midfielder Victor Elissalt but they don’t seem to have much else in central attacking midfield. Beziers are reliant on players making the step up to Ligue 2 level and delivering the goods but I’m not sure if this’ll happen.

Key players - Ibrahim Sissoko (ATT), Antoine Rabillard (ATT)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Mathieu Chabert is the man in charge and he’s been at the club for over 6 years in total and head coach since January 2016. This will be the first time he's managed higher than National division 3 so the jury is out. Usually, I would be quite skeptical, but a similar situation was Herve Della Maggiore at Bourg-en-Bresse. For many years he was unheard of in lower leagues but defied the odds in Ligue 2 and did a good job overachieving. Maybe Beziers could surprise somewhat, but on paper they definitely have the weakest team in the division. About 80-90% of the squad have never played above National division 3 level which is a massive concern. They will rely on players like Mostefa and Couliably for experience and overall there seem to be too many holes within the squad. Beziers are a pure minnow really. Nobody expected them to go up last season and nobody expects them to stay up this campaign either. But I‘ve seen many so called ‘poor teams on paper’ do well in Ligue 2, or even get promoted in some cases! I’m talking the likes of GFCA, Bourg-en-Bresse, Red Star, Amiens, & Paris FC. There are some other examples too, so there is plenty of hope for Beziers. It would be stupid to underestimate them completely. The logical scenario is that ASB will be heavily involved in the relegation battle though and due to their overall lack of quality on paper avoiding the drop would be a tremendous achievement. One final factor to consider is that Beziers won’t be playing their home matches at their normal stadium. Le Stade de Sauclieres isn’t deemed fit enough for Ligue 2 purposes so instead they’ll be playing at the rugby ground in the same city - Stade de la Mediterranee. For the first 2 or 3 home games of the season they could be forced to play in Montpellier 50 miles down the road before this stadium is ready though.

Prediction - Relegation battle