Nothing changes here for the Brittany outfit. They retain the same starters at goalkeeper and in the backline. In between the sticks they currently have a wealth of options. Gautier Larsonneur came out of nowhere to land the no1 custodian job and hasn’t looked back since. The excellent youngster has now made an appearance for France U21s and surely he can only get better from here. Donovan Leon will be the backup keeper and has nearly 60 career starts in Ligue 2 so is no mug. They currently have Julien Fabri on their books as well, someone who was meant to be the starter last season before Larsonneur usurped him. It’s expected he’ll leave before the end of the transfer window but if he doesn’t then Brest would have an amazing overall GK lineup. The backline itself will stay composed of Quentin Bernard (DL), JC Castelletto & Anthony Weber (DCs) & Gaetan Belaud (DR). All are quality options and will do a good job. Brest have a few reasonable backup players should any nasty injuries or suspensions occur. It’s important for the club that they kept hold of Jessy Pi in defensive midfield, because for a time it looked he wouldn’t come back. Ibrahima Sissoko has departed and Thomas Ayasse is a new arrival. The middle part of the field looks reasonably solid for the club. As a whole from a defensive point of view I’m expecting good things.
Key players - Anthony Weber (DC), Jessy Pi (DM)
Some interesting options have been added here. Haris Belkebla comes in from relegated Tours and he could be a useful box to box type dynamic midfielder who bursts forwards. Ferris N’Goma from Orleans is another one of those and he’s also quite versatile with the ability to play out wide. Brest do have some excellent wide options in the team. They have Julien Faussurier who weighed in with a massive 12 assists last season and he is a crucial player for Brest, another who is very versatile literally capable of playing anywhere. Yoann Court has been signed from relegated outfit Bourg-en-Brest but he was actually one of the best talents in Ligue 2 the last couple of years. As long as he is used properly, and not how the ultra negative Albert Cartier employed him at GFCA. Court has special qualities that will massively help Brest in the final third and I expect him to go extremely well here. The likes of Mathias Autret, Edouard Butin and Kevin Mayi are other options out on the wing and perhaps the only real question mark is upfront. Joint top scorer from last season Habib Diallo has left the club and Gaetan Charbonnier will be leading the line. He is a target man type striker so we can expect a lot of aerial balls into him. Charbonnier himself scored 9 goals last season and missed the first couple of months due to an ACL injury. He should be fitter and in better shape this season but I wouldn't necessarily put him in the elite class of striker in this division. Butin and Mayi will back him up and whilst I quite like the former option, he is too unreliable with injury issues. Nevertheless, this is an attack force which will create a lot of chances and score plenty of goals.
Key players - Julien Faussurier (Def/mid/wings), Yoann Court (LW,RW)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
In Jean Marc Furlan they have one of the better coaches in the division. He has plenty of experience and has a good history of getting teams out of Ligue 2. I like his style and usually he is a coach that likes his teams to play proper football, attractive on the eye. However, Furlan has somewhat failed in both of the last couple of years at Brest. They had an incredibly similar record in both campaigns, picking up exactly 65 points and registering a 5th placed finish each time. Even goals scored and conceded (58:43 - 58:44) are amazingly close, whilst home and away records are virtually identical. Le Brestois have been very strong on the road in recent times and I expect that to continue. Furlan has proved he can get results away in various different fashion and their fast paced counter attacking style should suit them well again. The staggering thing is that Brest have lost a whopping 12 home matches in the last 2 years! This is really high amount for a top five team and something that must ultimately improve if they are to obtain promotion. Some of their defeats have been weird too, often against some poor teams. Quite why this is I’m not entirely sure, but if fixed then Brest will be a major promotion force. I have no doubt they’ll be right up there in some form. The big question is if they can take that final leap into the top two spots, or whether they’ll have to settle for just the playoff route again, which offers no guarantees these days.
Prediction: Promotion challenge