Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash between Nantes and Montpellier HSC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Two Ligue 1 teams experiencing contrasting spells of form will lock horns on Sunday afternoon when Nantes welcome Montpellier HSC to the Stade de la Beaujoire.
The hosts have won each of their last six matches across all competitions on home soil, while the visitors have suffered defeat in three of their last four games on the road.
After narrowly avoiding demotion to Ligue 2 via success in the relegation playoff last season, Nantes have transformed into a European contender this term and spirits are understandably high among Antoine Kombouare‘s camp.
Their surprise 3-1 triumph at home against Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain was followed by a goalless draw away at relegation-threatened Metz last weekend, but nevertheless, the Canaries are sitting in seventh place, just four points behind the Europa League qualification spot.
Since their draw with Metz, Nantes have progressed to the Coupe de France final for the first time since 2000 – the year they last won the competition – after beating Monaco 4-2 on penalties on Wednesday, following a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes .
Moses Simon tucked away the decisive spot kick after Monaco pair Wissam Ben Yedder and Aurelien Tchouameni missed their efforts from 12 yards, setting up a showpiece event with Nice, which will be the first to not involve PSG since 2014.
Nantes now turn their attention back to Ligue 1 for Sunday’s game against Montpellier, a side they have failed to beat in each of their last three meetings, including a 2-1 home defeat last season.
Victory in front of their own fans, however, would see Nantes surpass their points total from last season with 11 games still to play.
After a run of five defeats from six matches across all competitions, Montpellier boss Olivier Dall’Oglio was hoping that their 1-0 away win over Lorient could act as a springboard for a much-needed run of form.
However, La Paillade were condemned to their 11th Ligue 1 defeat of the season, as well as their fifth since the turn of the year, when they lost 4-2 at home against Rennes last weekend.
The hosts were trailing by two goals inside the first 15 minutes but strikes from Ambroise Oyongo and Elye Wahi restored parity heading into half time. After the break the visitors then took control of the game and a goal each from Gaetan Laborde and Lovro Majer ensured that they came away with all three points.
Montpellier have slipped down to 11th place in the Ligue 1 standings, but a strong end to the campaign in their final 12 matches could see them push for a European place, with only six points currently separating them from Strasbourg in fifth.
La Paillade have won four of their last seven away games in Ligue 1, as many as in their previous 18 matches on the road, and a victory on Sunday would be their third in a row against Nantes.
Nantes Ligue 1 form:
Nantes form (all competitions):
Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
Montpellier HSC form (all competitions):
Nantes will be without full-back Fabio da Silva (ankle), winger Marcus Coco (ankle) and forward Jean-Kevin Augustin (groin) due to injury.
First-choice goalkeeper Alban Lafont is set to return between the sticks at the expense of Remy Descampswho started in the cup against Monaco in midweek.
Samuel Moutoussamy and Pedro Chirivella are expected to operate in centre-midfield, with attacking trio Simon, Randal Kolo Muani and Ludovic Blas forming an attacking front three.
As for Montpellier, Pedro Mendes (knee) and Mihailo Ristic (thigh) are both ruled out with injuries, while Mamadou Sakho and Stephy Mavididi are doubtful and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Right-back Arnaud Souquet is suspended, so Junior Sambia is expected to deputise, joining Nicolas Cozza, Maxime Esteve and Ambroise Oyongo in the back four.
Club captain and creative midfielder Teji Savanierwho has contributed to 12 goals so far this season (six goals and six assists), will likely continue in the number 10 role behind central striker Elye Wahi.
Nantes possible starting lineup:
Lafont; Appiah, Castalleto, Pallois, Girotto, Merlin; Chirivella, Moutoussamy; Blas, Kolo Muani, Simon
Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:
Omlin; Sambia, Cozza, Esteve, Oyongo; Ferri, Chotard; Germain, Savanier, Mollet; Wahi
We say: Nantes 2-1 Montpellier HSC
Considering the difference in form between the two teams, Nantes can be considered the favourites to come out on top this weekend, though Montpellier cannot be underestimated and will be fired up as they attempt to turn their fortunes around.
Nantes failed to score in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but we can see them securing a narrow victory on home soil this time around.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data