GK & Defenders
Lionel M’Pasi took over the #1 goalkeeper position midway through last season. I’ve got to be honest I don’t really think he’s particularly good and he might be one of the worst starting keepers in Ligue 2. M’Pasi is ok but I thought Rodez would look at reinforcing the goalkeeping position this summer. Backup Thomas Secchi played the final game of last season but that is his only ever competitive start. This is not a great goalkeeping lineup overall. Rodez play a 3-1-4-2 system so will be effectively starting three centre backs at all times. Julien Celestine, Pierre Bardy & Joris Chougrani will be the the first choices, with new signing Bradley Danger & veteran Amiran Sanaia alternative options. The coach sometimes has a habit of filling in these centre back spots with full backs who play naturally wider. Occasionally Rodez use a back five or have players operate in a wing back role but the wide players tend to be quite higher in this system, almost as wide midfielders. I am not that sure about this defence. It certainly lacks star quality and should injuries occur there might be a lack of natural centre backs to fit the 3-1-4-2 formation. Rodez are probably due a poor year defensively and this might be the season they get exposed.
Key players - Pierre Bardy (CB), & Joris Chougrani (CB)
David Douline played the DMID role most of last season but he has now moved to Swiss side Servette. I think he will be missed and Rodez are banking on Lorenzo Rajot to replace him. Rajot was effectively a bench warmer for Clermont last season but now he has to make this transition into regular starter. Rodez have a good duo of midfielders ahead of him though. They’ve signed Enzo Zidane (son of Zinedine) and his technical qualities could make him one of the stars of this team, as long as he is focused and his mind correct anyway. Remy Boissier is a fantastic box to box midfielder and always pops up with some long range goals. He has really impressed me during his time in Ligue 2 with both Le Mans and Rodez. Jordan Leborgne is another possibility to start in midfield, whilst new signing from Nimes B team Adilson Malanda could compete for minutes. There’s some good midfield runners here who can cause problems when they get forward and this is where they can sometimes catch out opponents. I am a bit worried that the departure of Douline at DMID might make them more vulnerable though. He was an ideal shield.
Key players - Enzo Zidane (CM/AM), & Remy Boissier (CM)
Wingers & Attackers
Rodez generally use the wide midfield or defensive winger role. On the right hand side they have lost key man Valentin Henry to Sochaux and it looks like Lucas Buades will be his replacement. Buades comes in from Nimes but there are other options here such as Bradley Danger, Nassim Ouammou or Alan Keroudan. It looks like Ouammou has nailed down the left hand side spot anyway unless he needs to switch to the other flank. Johan Obiang is in competition for the spot in left midfield but seemingly fell out of favour towards the end of last season. Rodez play two strikers and will be spearheaded by Ugo Bonnet who was last season’s top scorer. Bonnet is a good all round sort of striker who does a bit of everything. Options to partner him include new signing from Nimes Clement Depres who would be a big physical presence of a target man. Florian David & Malaly Dembele are faster options. Overall, I think we can expect to see a rotation of these guys although Bonnet is an indisputable starter if available. Rodez only scored 38 goals last season and have never been a particularly free scoring team in recent years. The system they play can make it hard to create chances and sometimes there’s a lack of service to the strikers.
Key players - Ugo Bonnet (ATT) & Nassim Ouammou (LMID)
Coaching, other factors & conclusion
This will be Laurent Peyrelade’s 6th season in charge of the club. You have to respect his work here, which includes two promotions and was probably the reason they didn’t sack him during a really poor winless run last season. RAF went on a horrible 14 game winless streak around the autumn period and actually also ended the year winless in 9 matches too. The problem is they racked up an absurd amount of draws - 19 in total which is astronomical. There was definitely a reluctance to try and win matches, or hold on to what they had far too early in fixtures. Maybe that could cost them this season because I am fairly sure this team will be involved in the relegation battle. It isn’t the worst of squads but it does lack a bit of star quality. Rodez play in a very identifiable 3-1-4-2 system which can of course have both its strengths and weaknesses. At times they are set up ‘not’ to lose and just have a habit of getting involved in fairly dull matches which are tactical battles. They can either flood the middle of the field or restrict their opponents out wide, depending on the situation. RAF have finished 16th and 15th the last two seasons and I have a gut feeling they could drop down further. If they survived I wouldn’t be surprised but I think there’s a low ceiling for this team. The best case scenario would probably be something like 12th or 13th and the worst case direct relegation. I think it will be touch and go if they stay in the division and too many draws could be an issue.
Prediction: 19th - Relegation battle
Meatmansoccer predicted best XI and formation