You will still be able to read clubgowi output on the website and especially newsletter, but this is one final swansong for the blog and the last chance to read on here, previews like this one sent to subscribers yesterday.....
France : Ligue 2
CA Bastia- Brest
Hosts are 14 points from safety, entering the last week of February they have still not won at home, they have far and away the smallest playing budget in Ligue 2 and have scored just 12 goals all season, at an average of 0.5 per game, which is not going to win you many matches !
Last three starts have seem them concede 11 goals and low point in a season of them, was the 4-1 defeat to a Chateauroux side who had not won on the road in almost two years in their last home start, before which I wrote .....Chat are 0-2-9 away from home and as bad as that sounds, they have actually not won on the road since March 9th 2012, that is 35 Ligue 2 starts (0-12-23) over which they have scored an average of just 0.71 goals per game. Obviously they do not board the team bus bursting with confidence and it must be extremely difficult giving a rousing pre match team talk. Having said that, they are not going to get a better opportunity to break that duck than today, facing a home side who have not posted a win (0-5-5) in their own stadium, something will have to give, unless we have a draw, which is far from impossible, but that is not going to help CAB's cause much.
Chateauroux were a little short of key players ahead of that game too and the manner of the defeat was devastating, After their latest defeat (at Dijon) the CAB coach said effectively that survival was a lost cause, they had waved the white flag and that they would begin to prepare for next season in National.
Now another fellow struggler travels to the island looking for a survival boost. Brest are just one place above the home side, but have an extra ten points in the bag, plus a game in hand and arrive here on the back of a win over Auxerre last week, their first in almost four months, which has give them a major confidence boost. On Friday, they meet the other bottom three team , when they host Laval and three points today would not only give them further momentum, but lift the pressure on them to win that fixture. They were a Ligue 1 side last season and have a lot more quality in their ranks than the hosts, although neither side has made the transition to Ligue 2, CAB have been unable to strengthen and make the step up, Brest came into the campaign having lost their last 11 starts in the top flight and despite a decent enough start to this season, have been unable to address the overall slide. But sometimes you have to hit the bottom ( or second bottom !) before climbing and on paper they remain a class above CAB. Coach Alex Dupont has been "able" to omit by choice, six players who played Ligue 1 football last season, including two with 53 starts appearances between them ( Mendy and Ayite), two others left behind are on loan from Monaco and Villarreal and these are just options that the hosts could only dream of.
Bastia have come from nowhere with three straight promotions, last season's third place finish surprised even them, they were ill prepared for second tier football and it was clearly a step too far and has caught up with them. Today they are without suspended centre back Mamadou Camara (22-1-1) , he is a regular starter of course, but it is hard to call anyone in this squad key. However, he also missed the game last week and all three goals came from players either able to run at the centre of the defence unchallenged or scored from headers (two) by players unmarked in the box and Brest will surely have taken note.To be honest, offensively CAB did not look too bad there and had a lot of attempts on goal, albeit mostly from distance, so this could easily develop into a shootout if the first goal come early enough, but anything less than a win, will be points lost for Brest. Away win.
1.5 units Brest -0.25 ball 2.05 asian line/Ibamarket.
Bastia CA : Lombard (cap.), Philippon - Phojo, Oswald, Fabre, Salis, Moizini, Rouamba, Marty, Vincent, Mba, N'Diaye, Dermé, Cropanese, Moretti, Rivas.
Brest : Thébaux - Moimbé, Falette, Traoré, Makonda, Chardonnet, Coulibaly - Perez, Grougi, Ramaré, Dernis, Guidileye, Lesoimier - Alphonse, Sea, Verdier.