When I think of Caen in this area of the field one word that springs to mind is experience. In goal, 33 year old Remy Riou is probably one of the best at this level and always a keeper I’ve rated. It looks like Erwin Zelazny is going to leave the club and Thomas Callens will be the #2 backup. I don’t really know enough about him to be honest and can’t ever remember him getting any minutes. Anthony Weber is a similar age to Riou and no spring chicken now but a very commanding centre back who knows how to get promoted out of this league. When you add in Jonathan Rivierez and Steeve Yago into the mixer this is a dependable unit that should be able to keep things tight. Left back will probably see the talented Yoel Armougom start, with Adama Mbengue dropped to the bench or maybe even out of the club. In Hugo Vandermersch Caen have a versatile youngster who can pretty much cover any position in the backline, especially out wide. The Normandie outfit have a decent array of defensive midfielders such as Anthony Goncalves, Jessy Pi, Prince Oniangue and youngster Alexis Beka Beka who is definitely one to watch this season. This feels like a good mix of experience along with the exuberance of youth and the potential is there for Caen being hard to break down this season.
Key players - Remy Riou (GK), Jonathan Rivierez (DC)
Youngster to watch - Alexis Beka Beka (DM)
The two most exciting talents in the Caen attack force are Caleb Zady and Jessy Deminguet. The former was signed from Ajaccio last season and is a lethal winger with his quickness and getting into some great positions. He weighed in with five assists and just one goal. The one weakness of his game is probably fishing but if he can improve that then he will develop into a real beast. Deminguet can pretty much operate anywhere in the final third and is very good technically. I’ve seen him produce some brilliant set pieces and he has the flair, passing and vision to be extremely dangerous at this level. The two main striker options look set to be Benjamin Jeannot and Yacine Bammou. The former only scored two goals in 14 appearances last season but his campaign was injury ravaged. Jeannot is a good ‘complete forward’ type of player who could easily rebound. Bammou meanwhile, returns from a loan spell in Turkey and is a bit of an enigma. Once touted for superstardom in his younger days at Nantes, I think it’s fair to say things haven’t quite worked out as he expected. There is absolutely no doubt he could be a great asset though if in the right frame of mind. Bammou can also play on either wing very effectively. Caen actually look extremely strong in the wide areas and youngsters Nicholas Gioacchini & Kelian Nsona are a couple to keep an eye on. If Caen can get one of the main strikers firing then this could actually be an underrated attack force which goes under the radar. There are question marks, and at times a reliance on younger players or enigma type individuals but the goalscoring potential is there. One latest bit of news is they are expected to sign (although not confirmed) ex Brest winger Yoann Court, who would add some serious flair and technique to their attack.
Key players - Jessy Deminguet (AM), Caleb Zady (Winger/ATT)
Youngster to watch - Kelian Nsona (Winger)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
The appointment of Rui Almeida as manager at the start of last season didn’t work out and he was sacked at the end of September 2019. It was left up to Pascal Dupraz to pick up the pieces and the ex Evian and Toulouse boss did a good job stabilising the ship to finish in a comfortable midtable spot. Dupraz is a no nonsense type of coach who is a great motivator and actually really good at working and developing youngsters. He is an adaptable coach who has been known to play a number of different systems. For the most part I’d say he prefers to try and keep things tight but I have seen some of his matches go totally wild and out of control when he’s in an attacking sort of mood. Caen have started the season with two solid results and have yet to concede a goal. They could be an underrated team this season because on paper I think they have decent all round quality. Maybe some other squads are more stacked with proven quality and extra depth but Caen are a team on the rebound again and I expect to see them challenging for promotion. Quite how high they finish could depend on how much some of their youngsters develop and if they stay injury free. Caen had the second highest average attendance last season as over 10,000 regularly flocked to the Stade Michel d’Ornano. Perhaps they could lose some edge with the crowd restrictions and the ‘Normandie Kop’ won’t be as buzzing compared to normal. I think all things considered this should be a strong year for Caen though and as aforementioned they could be slightly underrated compared to some of the other big names.
Prediction: 3rd Promotion contender