Nantes vs. Lille

Following an impressive start to their Ligue 1 campaign, Lille will travel to Stade de la Beaujoire for a weekend date with Nantes.

The Coupe de France champions from a season ago drew their opening fixture 0-0 at Angers, while Les Dogues easily defeated newly-promoted Auxerre 4-1.

Match preview

Nantes' Andrei Girotto and Pedro Chirivella celebrate after winning the French Cup on May 7, 2022

After finishing the previous campaign with 55 points, their highest total in the top-flight since 2003/04 (60), Nantes struggled in their opener, failing to create much at Stade Raymond Kopa, extending their winless run in opening league encounters to six games.

Defensively, their backline have sustained a ton of pressure this month, conceding eight shots on target in their defeat at the Trophee des Champions against Paris Saint-Germain (4-0) and allowing another six efforts on target to Angers.

Manager Antoine Kombouare praised his goalkeeper for helping them maintain a clean sheet last weekend, though he was not pleased with the lack of organisation among his players, who were often positioned too far apart on the field, allowing plenty of openings.

Last season, 11 of the 15 domestic triumphs for La Maison Jaune came on home soil, as they conceded a goal or fewer in eight of those victories.

The departure of top goalscorer Randal Kolo Muani has left a massive hole in their attack, and they lacked potency in their pre-season friendlies, failing to find the back of the net in two of their three home fixtures last month.

When tallying first in 2022, they have proven to be a tough team to keep up with, winning all nine of their matches in all competitions after drawing first blood, while maintaining a shutout in seven of those games.

Lille's Jonathan David during the warm up before the match on January 22, 2022

Over in Hauts-de-France, the Paulo Fonseca era began with a bang as Lille extended their unbeaten run in opening Ligue 1 fixtures to six games, scoring four goals on matchday one for the first time since the 1978-79 season when they edged Nancy 4-3.

They became the first side since Les Canaris in 1993 to score twice in a Ligue 1 encounter within the opening three minutes as their ball movement was sensational, putting up a pass accuracy of 91%.

Under a 4-2-3-1 approach, we saw an effective system that enabled this team to thrive, which was not often the case last season as their dynamic attackers lacked service in the traditional 4-4-2 formation employed by Jocelyn Gourvennec, often looking stale and easy to defend.

With the former Roma boss now at the helm, we can expect a Lille side with much more intentional and meticulous build-up play than we saw last season when they finished 10th after winning the league in 2020-21.

Despite earning at least, a point in 12 of their domestic away matches last season, they struggled to keep the ball out of their goal, conceding in all but three of their road fixtures, although one of those shutouts took place at Stade de la Beaujoire when they blanked Les Canaris 1-0 in March.

It is still early, but this edition of Les Dogues look fresher and more aggressive while involving their fullbacks in the play, which has added another dimension to their attack.

Team News

Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare reacts on March 2, 2022

Alban Lafont made six stops for Nantes in their opener to earn his first clean sheet of the campaign, while Ludovic Blas and Moses Simon will be counted upon to get their names on the scoresheet as Blas tallied 10 times last season, while Simon led them with eight assists.

Evann Guessand had a difficult opening match for La Maison Jaune , as the man on loan from Nice rarely touched the ball and was taken off in favour of Mostafa Mohamed in the second half against Angers, while Moussa Sissoko played his first game for his new squad after leaving Watford over the summer.

Kombouare made only one change to his starting 11 against Angers from the team who began their Trophee des Champions encounter versus Les Parisienss, as Jean-Charles Castelletto sat out, while Quentin Merlin started in midfield with Dennis Appiah slotting in at the back.

Jonathan David got his season off to an excellent start, as the Canadian, who led Lille with 15 goals in 2021-22, picked a brace in their opening game along with an assist, while Akim Zedadka scored his first strike for his new club with the winner coming courtesy of Benjamin Andre.

Remy Cabella set up both of David’s goals, Jonathan Bamba assisted on their fourth strike, while Bafode Diakite made his debut for Les Dogues, replacing Tiago Djalo.

Alexsandro Ribeiro started at the back for Lille in their previous encounter, while Timothy Weah, who had three goals and four assists for them during the previous campaign, was unavailable.

Nantes possible starting lineup:
Lafont; Castelletto, Girotto, Pallois; Coco, Sissoko, Chirivella, Merlin; Blas; Guessand, Simon

Lille possible starting lineup:
Jardim; Zedadka, Fonte, Ribeiro, Djalo; Andre, Gomes; David, Cabella, Bamba; Bayo

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