France Ligue 2 – EA Guingamp Season Preview 2020/21

Guingamp Defence

There was definitely a weakness in goal last season and Guingamp will hope the signing of Dane Nicolai Larsen from Nordsjaelland solves their problems. I know relatively little about him but he should be a decent enough option. Ex Dijon custodian Enzo Basilio will be the new #2 keeper and will be an able deputy at this level. The defence never had enough consistency about it last season and I fear there could be similar issues again. Guingamp signed Brazilian centre back Philipe Sampaio from Portuguese club Tondela and he might be the stud they need at the back. He impressed on his debut but has since gone down with a knee injury. Unfortunately, Felix Eboa-Eboa is ruled out for the whole season with an ACL tear which leaves Sikou Niakate and the ageing Jeremy Sorbon as their other centre back options. At left back Pedro Rebocho returned from a season long loan at Besiktas and has started the first two league games. I could see him leaving the club before the end of the transfer window though. Guingamp will lean on new signing Logan Ndenbe and Morgan Poaty in this position should that happen. Jeremy Melllot should at least be the one constant figure at right back and impressed during the previous campaign. Guingamp have a wealth of options who can play in the defensive midfield role but probably lack a real star here. It also doesn’t help that El Hadji Ba and Lebogang Piri are out injured until at least Christmas. Old dog Alexis Romao has been signed from Reims and Guessouma Fofana returns after a loan spell at Le Mans. Youngster Louis Carnot could be one to watch in this position as a deep lying playmaker.

Key players - Jeremy Mellot (DR), Philipe Sampaio (DC)

Youngster to watch - Louis Carnot (CM)

Guingamp Offense

Les Costamoricains actually scored the second most goals in Ligue 2 last season and when you look at what they have on paper this wasn’t a surprise. Guingamp have a number of players who really should thrive at Ligue 2 level. The likes of Ronny Rodelin and Yeni N’Gbakoto are in my opinion too good for this division if they actually apply themselves properly. For some reason, things didn’t work out for Yannick Gomis but let's remember he was one of the highest scorers in Ligue 2 for Lens in the 18/19 season. Frantzdy Pierrot is unfortunately out until December with an ACL injury but he netted 7 times in 16 games and could be dangerous when he returns. Out wide, Bryan Pele is a quality winger who can both score and assist. Youssouf M’Changama has developed his offensive game to become a serious threat anywhere in the final third and Guingamp also welcome back Matthias Phaeton and Jeremy Livolant from loan spells. A very interesting signing is Paul Georges Ntep. He is a player who was once touted for superstardom and had a market value of £10 million not so long ago. However, things went pear shaped since he left Rennes in 2015 with injuries being one of his main issues. It will be interesting to see if he can rebound. There’s a chance he could be a sensational signing if Ntep can re-find some of his old form. Ultimately, Guingamp have a glutton of offensive weapons at their disposal. The problem could be fitting everyone into the same team and maybe a couple of fringe/bench guys will leave before the end of the transfer window.

Key players - Bryan Pele (Winger), Ronny Rodelin (All attack)

Coaching, other factors & conclusion

Unfortunately, Guingamp have been a bit of a mess in the managerial department for quite some time now. Patrice Lair was hired at the start of last season but sent packing before the end of September! Sylvain Didot took up the reigns and Guingamp were in 8th position before the league was stopped in March. However, the board have already lost patience with Didot and he’s been sacked after just two games this season! Taking over is ex Paris FC boss Mecha Bazdarevic and I don’t personally think this is a good hire for the club. Bazdarevic is tactically astute and known for having sides with good defences. Guingamp are an ambitious club who will be targeting promotion and they have the ability to outscore a lot of teams. The Brittany outfit possesses a lot of weapons and good all round strength, but I just have a feeling they will fail to live up to potential. I wrote this about Bazdarevic in my Paris FC season preview last year (and he got sacked mid season!) “I am worried the coach won’t get the best out of these players due to a defensive style’’ I could see something similar happening again. The other problem is just a lack of consistency and a potential revolving door of players in and out of the club. It still feels like Guingamp are in their relegation hangover and recovering. They’ve also been unlucky with injuries and a number of important players are facing long spells on the sidelines. Les Costamoricains are one of the best supported clubs in Ligue 2 and averaged over 9,000 attendance at Le Stade Roudourou last season. This didn’t do them any favours with only the 11th best home record in the league though. Nevertheless, the reduction in fans allowed could affect them negatively. On paper, Guingamp should be in with a decent promotion chance and challenge in the top six for sure. But for aforementioned reasons I don’t see them going up automatically.

Prediction:- 6th Playoff/Promotion contender