France Ligue 2 – Grenoble Season Preview 2018/19

Grenoble defence

The goalkeeping situation looks ok and might even turn out to be a pleasant surprise. Brice Maubleu has been with the club for a number of years, even during its darkest times so it's nice to see him given this chance in Ligue 2. He should be the #1 custodian and backed up by Papa Camara and Esteban Salles. All of these guys have experienced Ligue 2 before and if Maubleu is better than expected then this trio is ok for Grenoble. Grenoble made three new signings in defence, Fabien Boyer, Jerome Mombris and Nicolas Tarevel. Unfortunately, Boyer has injured his ACL in a pre season friendly which is a shame because he looked like a good addition to me. Mombris is top quality and will be one of the better fullbacks in the league. The likes of Eric Vandenabeele, Maxime Spano and Harouna Abou Demba are mainstays of the defence that got them promoted last season and should be starting regularly again this year. Neither of them have much experience playing above National Division 3 level so could struggle stepping up. The good news for the backline is that it should be well shielded by Youssouf M’Changama and Ryan Sanusi. Both are new additions and look strong options. M’Changama impressed me in recent seasons at GFCA with his physique at GFCA, whilst Sanusi has plenty of Eredivisie experience in Holland which should serve him well. There are other DMID options in the squad like Deletraz, Elogo and Ibrahima Coulibaly. There will be times when the Grenoble defence is exposed this year but considering they are a newly promoted team then it doesn’t look in bad shape to me.

Key players - Jerome Mombris (DL), Youssouf M’Changama (DM)

Grenoble offense

I think this is the weaker area of Grenoble’s squad. They weren’t the most prolific scorers last year and not a lot will probably change this season either. It was Florian Socota on the right wing who led their line with 8 goals in the previous campaign. Socota, a failed reject at Montpellier looks set to be a key man for Grenoble in 2018/19. The Alpine club actually have plenty of wide players like Malek Chergui, Alharbi El Jadeyaoui and new signing from Georgia Jaba Jigauri. My main concern for Grenoble is a lack of quality strikers. Nicolas Belvito, a failure at Dijon is set to lead the line and he isn’t good enough in my opinion. Belvito only scored five goals at National Division level in nearly 30 appearances! Lakdar Boussaha would probably be a better option, but overall I think Grenoble will rely on goals from wingers more than their actual front men. Perhaps the club can reinforce before the end of the transfer window because the need for a decent quality #9 striker is high. Their best attacking midfielder should be Jessy Benet, ironically another Dijon reject. But I have seen enough of him at this level before to suggest he could be useful.

Key players - Florian Socota (RW), Jessy Benet (AM)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

The man who led Grenoble to promotion, via the playoff match against Bourg-en-Bresse is no longer in charge of the club. Olivier Guegan did an excellent job here and was loved so much by the players that they begged the management to keep hold of him. But various disagreements led to the removal of Guegan and taking over is Philippe Hinschberger. The ex Metz boss has a lot of experience managing in French football, although has endured varied success. His best moment came when he led Metz to a promotion in 2015/16 and managed to keep them in the top flight the following year. However, a nightmare start to the previous campaign saw him get sacked. I have never personally rated Hinschberger that much although I respect what he managed to do at Metz. His teams often concede a lot of goals and I don’t think he’s necessarily a great fit at Grenoble. The strength of this outfit looks more to be in defensive areas and I don’t think they are going to win too many shootouts. As a club, Grenoble have been through a lot of down years following their bankruptcy in 2010. They have a fantastic stadium - Les Stade des Alpes which deserves to see this sort of level of football again. It's great to see them back in Ligue 2 and in many ways they remind me of Strasbourg who suffered something similar. We all know how that turned out with RCS achieving back to back promotions and they now reside in Ligue 1 again. Grenoble look like they could be a midtable sort of team and along with Red Star the best equipped of the promoted teams. Perhaps a lack of goals could cost them ultimately but a lower midtable sort of finish is what I expect.

Prediction - Lower midtable