Julien Fabri is the #1 goalkeeper and backing him up is Remy Pillot. This is quite an acceptable lineup and Fabri was once one of the better keepers at this level before his move to Brest didn’t really work out. Pillot started for half of last season before Faebri was signed is perfect as a backup. Chateauroux also have a couple of young custodians to keep an eye on, Bedfian and Plumain. Big centre back Sekou Conde has left the club and his powerful presence at the back could be missed. Youngster on loan from Nice Ibrahim Cisse is set to be a replacement and could be one to watch. This is mostly an older and more experienced defence though with the likes of Yannick M’Bone, Nama Fofana and Jeremy Cordoval along with Chaker Alhadhur. Left back Christopher Operi had a breakout campaign last season and caught the eye but has been benched so far this year. This defence doesn’t look too bad on paper but there are limitations in certain parts. Centre back especially they lack anyone of real class. At the defensive midfield position Remi Mulumba and Opa Sangatte are ok without being anything special. Youngster Leo Leroy could be one to watch as a deep lying playmaker.
Key players - Ibrahim Cisse (DC), Opa Sangante (DM)
Youngster to watch - Leo Leroy (CM)
La Berrichonne were one of the lowest scoring teams in Ligue 2 last season, netting just 22 times in 28 games. One of their key attackers was playmaker Romain Grange who was top scorer with 5 goals and also weighed in with 5 assists. Grange is a very good technical player and will take most of the set pieces. One piece of bad news is he is currently out injured until at least the end of September due to an injury sustained in the first match away at Ajaccio. I like the addition of Amir Nouri who impressed me in this league for Beziers a couple of seasons ago. He can play anywhere in the final third and is a multiple threat in terms of scoring goals and creativity. Chateauroux have a very talented young winger in the form of Haissem Hassan. He looks set to leave the club though and hasn’t even been included in the match squad for the first two games. Lack of a quality striker will probably hinder them. Philipe Keny isn’t good enough in my opinion and Gilles Sunu has always been a better winger than striker. Out wide, the experienced but very injury prone Razak Boukari could still have some use, whilst youngster Ilyas Chouaref maybe has some potential. Chateauroux will have some good days in front of goal but this attack lacks a bit of bite and star class. There will be a number of times when you just sense they are lacking an end product.
Key players - Romain Grange (AM, wings), Amin Nouri (All attack)
Youngster to watch - Haissem Hassan (Winger)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
Nicolas Usai is now nearly two years in the job and has done really well here, often with a limited squad. He took over in October 2018 when they ere in major trouble and guided them to safety. Last season LBC were in a comfortable 15th place before COVID stopped the league early. Usai has picked up some impressive away results and they have a knack of winning on their travels. Already this season La Berrichonne had a 1-0 win in Ajaccio before following it up with a 1-2 loss at home to Auxerre. Chateauroux have been poor at home in recent years so the crowd restrictions won’t affect them negatively. Their average attendance was less than 4,000 during the last campaign. On paper La Berrichonne are a lower midtable sort of team who in the wrong hands would probably be fighting relegation. Usai seems to get the most out of this squad though and they will probably have enough about themselves to stay clear of the drop again. It won’t be pretty at times and Usai is a manager who will happily park the bus if needed. There will be a lot of inconsistency and the surprise factor when they get a result somewhere you least expect it. Overall somewhere around the 15th place mark feels about right.
Prediction:-15th Bottom half but safe