Saint Etienne VS Reims - France Ligue 1, Match Preview

Match Time:2/20/2021 20:00 Saturday  (GMT+8)

France Ligue 1 --  Saint Etienne   VS   Reims

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A Saint-Etienne side aiming to win their third Ligue 1 game on the trot welcome a Reims side desperate to end a three-game winless run to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday lunchtime.

 

The hosts' resurgence continued last weekend with a hugely impressive 2-0 win at Rennes, while Reims held Lens to a 1-1 stalemate.

 

Match preview

Saint-Etienne still have a long road ahead of them as they fight their way out of danger, but the signs are increasingly positive for Claude Puel following a terrific start to February. A Coupe de France defeat to Sochaux has been the only blot on the landscape for the 59-year-old, who has witnessed his side take 10 points from the last 12 on offer in the top flight - scoring five times and conceding just once in that impressive streak.

 

Denis Bouanga and Arnaud Nordin got the goals which fired Saint-Etienne to victory over an out-of-sorts Rennes outfit last Sunday, and that result means that the 15th-placed Verts are now 11 points clear of the automatic relegation zone and seven above 18th-placed Nantes, so there is no reason for the hosts to be looking over their shoulder amid their revival.

 

As the only team outside of the top four to have won three of their last four Ligue 1 matches, Saint-Etienne are starting to look more like the side that shot to the summit in the very early weeks of the season, but they are still in a precarious position and cannot afford to take their foot off the gas, especially as they take on an improving Lorient next weekend.

 

A 1-0 victory at home to Metz on February 7 was their first triumph on familiar territory since September 12, although they have lost just one of their last seven at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard and can leapfrog a misfiring Reims should they prevail in their showdown this weekend. Boulaye Dia's form has dropped off in recent weeks, and with it, so has Reims'. The 24-year-old still boasts an impressive tally of 12 for the season, but he has now failed to score in six Ligue 1 matches, and his side's fortunes have suffered amid his barren spell.

 

Dia did strike twice in the Coupe de France defeat to Valenciennes earlier in February, but they have only found the back of the net once in their last three Ligue 1 matches, and their victories over Brest and Strasbourg last month were only by a goal to nil. Nevertheless, David Guion's men had every right to feel proud about their performance against surprise package Lens in their most recent outing, as Arber Zeneli's header put Reims ahead before Florian Sotoca restored parity for Sang et Or, who also saw Gael Kakuta blaze a penalty over the bar.

 

The 13th-placed Rouges et Blancs simply need to get Dia firing on all cylinders again if they are to arrest their slump as quickly as possible, and their away form has been inconsistent to say the least, as Guion's men have won just two of their last eight on the road in Ligue 1.

 

Reims have shipped just two goals in their last 450 minutes of top-flight football, so it is certainly not all doom and gloom for Guion, but they are now travelling to a Saint-Etienne team whom they have not beaten away from home since 1959 - a run of 19 games without victory - although they did prevail 3-1 in the reverse fixture back in January.

 

Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form: LLWDWW

Saint-Etienne form (all competitions): LWDWLW

 

Reims Ligue 1 form: LWWDLD

Reims form (all competitions): WWDLLD

 

Team News

Saint-Etienne forward Romain Hamouma would have been forced to miss this match due to an accumulation of bookings, but the Frenchman is out with a hamstring injury anyway.

 

Alpha Sissoko and Panagiotis Retsos also remain sidelined with knee and thigh problems respectively, but it would be a surprise to see Puel make many changes from the side that overcame Rennes.

 

However, Nordin could return to the fold after his goal against Les Rouge et Noir, while Zaydou Youssouf is pushing for a recall to the midfield.

 

The visitors will have to rejig their midifeld as Xavier Chavalerin is banned for this game, which should see Valon Berisha deputise in the engine room.

 

Reims suffered a huge blow before the Lens game as Yunis Abdelhamid was ruled out with a hamstring problem, and it remains to be seen if the visiting captain will recover in time for Saturday.

 

Marshall Munetsi may continue to deputise in defence if Abdelhamid is not given the green light to line up, but Dario Maresic is waiting in the wings for a chance to shine.

 

Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:

Moulin; Debuchy, Moukoudi, Cisse, Trauco; Nordin, Youssouf, Aouchiche, Camara, Bouanga; Khazri

 

Reims possible starting lineup:

Rajkovic; Foket, Faes, Munetsi, Konan; Cassama; Zeneli, Cafaro, Berisha, Mbuku; Dia

 

Prediction:Saint-Etienne 1-0 Reims

Saint Etienne VS Reims - France Ligue 1, Match Preview

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