French Ligue 2 Midseason Review – by Thomas Mignot

The Ligue 2 season resumed last weekend. After 20 games, we have the opportunity to make a point on a league relatively unknown. What are the main contenders for the promotion? What are the big disappointments of this season?

First of all, looking at the composition of the league early in the season, we already knew that the championship would be uncertain and exciting.

Except Clermont, current leader, and Amiens, the current last, all teams playing in Ligue 2 have ever experienced the pleasures of promotion to Ligue 1

Still today we realize the leve of difficulty this championship presents, the hierarchy is not really established, and “anyone can beat anyone”. Between Reims, 2nd, and Lens 16th, there is only a difference of 11 points. This small difference in points between the teams leaves us consider a very open end of championship. The standard is very level, each game is won on a detail, details that have enormous importance for the end of the season.

The teams that will best negotiate the minefield of injuries, suspensions, players missing at the African Cup or Nations can advance to Ligue 1. Pay attention also, to the schedule, the last 2 months of competition are very busy, teams who are less tired and therefore better prepared for this final sprint will have a nice card to play. Be careful with teams that are not not showing great fitness levels right now. They may have some special physical preparation, and finish the season on a good run.

Precisely “the run-in” will be a determining factor for promotion to L1. No promotion can happen without a good run. In a Championship as tight as this, it is important to string together several wins in a row in a moment of the season. So everything is still possible.

Metz is the best example: in September / October they strung together five defeats in a row and five wins. In just a few matches, they returned to 3 points from the podium.

The favorite Clermont

Auvergne7 points ahead  in mid-season, they have the best defense and perhaps the two best players in the league with Riviere and Alessandrini.

Perhaps a lack of experience might pose a problem in the end of season. But logically, they should finish on the podium,  it’s the team that has the best chance to do.

Outsiders: Bastia, Sedan, Reims, Le Havre, Nantes, Guingamp, Laval, Metz

All have a chance, you could even add Chateauroux Tours or Angers Troyes Lens Boulogne. With a good series anything is possible…

Still a chance for Bastia and Sedan.

Bastia: An experienced team thanks to Rothen and Maoulida. Extremely difficult to take points in Furiani, fans will put pressure at the appropriate times. Bastia in the first 3 thanks to a faultless home record.

Sedan: The best attack, game-oriented offensive because of a leaky defense. Strong at home but away too, they are logically one of the favorites in mid-season.

Reims: Currently sitting 2nd. No doubt, they are the luckiest team in the top half of the table. Best home team of course, but to access the L1, you must also be good away!

En avantGuingamp: This team was in the 3rd Division last year, it maybe lacks a bit of experience in key moments.  Desire and motivation are not always enough.

Le Havre: Also quoted as one of the favorites early in the season, but never a winner, always well placed. Their new stadium is almost ready … for the L1? Why not…

Nantes: A team accustomed to being in Ligue 1 for many years. A monument of French football trying to rebuild. Probably a little too early for them.

Laval: A pleasant surprise this season. They stayed in L2 last year thanks to a very good run at home. A little more complicated this season to “le Basser” with 3 losses already. If they regain their stability at home, why not dream of podium?

Metz: A team that can make beautiful series of wins, team to watch.

Battle for relegation

4 teams will go down, Le Mans, Monaco, Arles and Amiens hope for only one thing: not to be playing in the 3rd division next season. For relegation we can also add Lens and Istres. We have six teams for three places…

Istres: 19th place, the defensive side of their  team has been very irregular. They are not too far above the relegation zone, a bad run because of their defense may cause them some sleepless nights…

Lens: Like all the teams relegated from Ligue 1, Lens has a lot of difficulties to win in this division. Despite the strong support of his fans, Lens must beware to not knowing the same disillusionment that befell Guingamp, Bastia and Strasbourg before them.

Not just for racing carsLe Mans: A new stadium and a new goal: to avoid relegation. The goal early in the season was the reverse. Be careful, this is a squad of players that are not used to fighting  relegation. A response is expected in the coming weeks.

Arles: They come from Ligue 1. This season has been a nightmare, they ended 2011 with nine matches in a row without a single victory. A second relegation is not unthinkable.

Amiens: They come from National, quite complicated for them. Simply because the team level is relatively low. Likely that they will return to National

And finally Monaco … What a disaster. Finalist in the Champions League in 2004 and this season, only one win after the first 19 matches … A Russian investor, Rybolvlev is arrived. He is the only and last hope for AS Monaco, another monument of French football. 2nd win of the season last week suggest that a good end of season may be possible…

Prediction for Promotion: Bastia, Clermont, Sedan
Prediction for Relegation: Amiens, Istres, Arles

France based football tipster

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