Preview: Brest vs. Saint-Etienne – prediction, team news
Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Ligue 1 clash between Brest and Saint-Etienne, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Les Verts had their four-game unbeaten run snapped by PSG over the weekend, losing 3-1, while Les Pirates have won four in a row after coming back to beat Bordeaux 2-1 on Sunday.
After narrowly escaping the relegation play-offs a season ago, Brest have shown a lot of determination in recent weeks and are one of the hottest teams in France at the moment, unbeaten in seven consecutive matches.
As good as the Bretons look at the moment, they went through plenty of growing pains early on in this campaign, going winless in their opening 11 matches of the year.
The appointment of Michel Der Zakarian seems to have been a useful one for this club as the vastly experienced coach, who has managed four different French clubs (Nantes, Clermont, Reims and Montpellier) since 2007 has brought a level of calmness to this group with an emphasis on trusting the process, something which has enabled this team to turn the corner in recent weeks.
Having won four straight contests, they are on the longest winning run in their entire history in the top flight, equalling their record set between February and March of 1986.
While their form and play was a big question mark to start the season, one thing that has never been in doubt so far in 2021-22 is their ability to find the back of the net as they are the only side in the French top flight to score in every game thus far, an impressive stat when you consider the calibre of players that the likes of PSG possess and the fact that Brest have no one in the top 10 in goals in Ligue 1.
On the defensive side of things, they have also shown improvement, collecting back-to-back clean sheets at home against the second-highest scoring side in the league (Lens) and the third-highest scoring team from last season (Monaco).
Saint-Etienne took another step back in their pursuit to climb out of the relegation zone of Ligue 1, squandering a 1-0 lead to the league-leaders as they were far too passive after taking the lead, mainly because they were reduced to 10-men late in the opening half.
That defeat ended a solid stretch of results for Claude Puel and his team, who had built up a little momentum since late October before losing on Sunday.
Playing on the road could be what this team need at the moment, particularly on their back end, as they have conceded multiple goals in three consecutive league matches played at Geoffroy-Guichard, but they are unbeaten in their previous two games away from home, shutting out Troyes in their last road outing, 1-0.
Brest may have had a bad start to the season, but they have not been quite as poor as the record 10-time league champions were to start this domestic campaign, as Les Verts collected only six points from their opening 12 fixtures, and suffered an embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Strasbourg.
They have been a reactionary side for the most part thus far, with 11 of their 17 goals coming in the second half as they have been playing catch-up more often than not.
It seems like it was ages ago when this team were among the best in France, finishing in the top half of the table in every season from 2010-11 until 2018-19.
Brest Ligue 1 form:
Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
Jeremy Le Douaron notched a second-half brace as he now has three in his last two matches, putting him even with Romain Faivre for the team lead, while Franck Honorat set up the winning goal versus Bordeaux, his third assist this year, putting him two back of Faivre.
Goalkeeper Sebastien Cibois is out with an Achilles tendon rupture suffered before the start of the season, but that has not impacted Les Pirares all that much, particularly at home where Marco Bizot has stopped the last seven shots that he has faced, collecting two straight shutouts.
Brest had the same starting 11 this past weekend as they had in their 4-0 win over Lens, as their vice-captain Brendan Chardonnet anchored the defensive line alongside Jean-Kevin Duverne, Christophe Herelle and Ronael Pierre-Gabriel.
Saint-Etienne have been missing the presence of an established goalkeeper who can win you games like Jessy Moulin was able to do last season when he collected nine clean sheets, while this year Etienne Green has had a difficult time preventing goals as the 21-year-old has only picked up one shutout so far this season.
Brest possible starting lineup:
Bizot; Duverne, Herelle, Chardonnet, Uronen; Agoume, Belkebla; Honorat, Faivre, Agoume; Le Douaron
Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:
Green; Sissoko, Nade, Moukoudi, Trauco; Gourna-Douath, Aouchiche; Bouanga, Youssouf, Krasso; Khazri
We say: Brest 2-1 Saint-Etienne
Brest are playing inspired football at the moment with six goals, and none against in their previous two road matches and they should not have any trouble scoring against a side like Les Verts, who have allowed the most goals in the league (31) and have conceded 17 times in seven matches away from home.