France Ligue 2 – Troyes Season Preview 2018/19

Troyes defence

Erwin Zelazny performed well for them in goal last season but he’s left to go to Caen. That means Mamadou Samassa will regain his #1 status and at this level of football he should do a decent job. New signing Alexandre Letellier from Angers will be an able deputy. The goalkeeping situation is solid if not spectacular for ESTAC. From the defence itself, Christophe Herelle has been sold to Nice for nearly £5m. I have to say Troyes did well on this deal. He wasn't a player I ever particularly rated, but did manage to string together some good displays in Ligue 1 last season so could be missed. Yoann Salmier on loan from, Strasbourg is their only reinforcement at the back. Troyes have enough quality in this area of the field to be strong in Ligue 2. Stud left back Charles Traore is the best player, although they will struggle to hold onto him before the end of the transfer window. The likes of Deplagne, Giraudon, Vizcarrondo should be formidable at this level of football. Even backup players like Cordoval and Obiang are fairly good alternatives in Ligue 2. ESTAC have lost quite a few midfield players including Bellugou, Walter, Azamoum & Dingome. They have reinforced the defensive midfield sector by adding Rayan Raveloson from relegated Tours, along with Ahmed Kashi from Charlton Athletic in England. Alois Confais will be a likely starter for them in this area of the field which looks ok, albeit nothing that special.

Key players - Charles Traore (DL), Jimmy Giraudon (DC)

Troyes offense

Their best striker in the last couple of years Adama Niane hasn't been training properly this summer and the likelihood is that he’ll leave the club before the end of August. Troyes still have plenty of threat in the final third without him though. I have to start with Benjamin Nivet who will turn 42 years of age in January. Remarkably, he is still going strong and is still productive enough for the club! Of course, the legend is slowing down these days but his creative influence remains, especially from set pieces. Bryan Pele, Chaouki Ben Saada and Jonathan Tinhan make up decent wide options for ESTAC, whilst upfront keeping Hyun Jun Suk would be a boost. He looked good in Ligue 1 at times last season and I would expect him to go very well in the second tier. However, Suk has been linked with moves away from the club and there’s probably more chance of him leaving before the end of August. Alongside him, new signing Yoann Touzghar is a fine option to have in Ligue 2 and can be a top player when in the mood, albeit inconsistent. Troyes have a couple of young fast players to keep an eye on, Warren Tchimbembe and Bryan Mbeumo. Jason Berthomier is a new signing from Brest and is a versatile attacker capable of playing out wide or centrally. From January onwards they should have veteran Stephane Darbion available after he recovers from an achilles tendon injury suffered in May. All things considered, Troyes should have a sizable threat going forward this season and I’m expecting them to score a few goals.

Key players - Hyun Jun Suk (ATT), Bryan Pele (LW,RW)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Troyes have a new coach for this season in Rui Almeida. He’s been out of the game for about a year when he left SC Bastia. The man from Portugal has a reasonably good history in Ligue 2, leading Red Star to an unlikely 5th position a few years ago. Things all went badly the year after and he was sacked around Christmas. The key to success of that Red Star team was generally a tight defence but I do wonder if Almeida might adapt to be more positive now he’s got a stronger team under his belt. Troyes got relegated last season but generally gave a good account of themselves in the top flight. The squad was never ready or good enough to survive in Ligue 1 and a poor second half to the season ultimately cost them the drop. But there is a feeling of stability around the club. They are kind of used to promotion and relegation seasons and nothing is really new to them in this regard. Of the first XI projected to start the opening match of the season, just two players are new signings so there is definitely a lot of continuity within the squad. Troyes seem fairly balanced in all areas. As long as the coach isn't too negative then they should be able to go well this season. I see them as a contender for promotion and I anticipate ESTAC being in the top five overall.

Prediction - Promotion challenge

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