In Ligue 1, Nantes and Reims meet at the Stade de la Beaujoire on Sunday (April 2). Even though Nantes is 14th in the standings, they appear to be safe for the time being despite being just three places above the relegation zone. They are seven points ahead of 17th place on 30 points.
Against Marseille last week, Reims ended one of Europe’s longest unbeaten streaks. Before that, they’d gone 19 games unbeaten and hadn’t lost since September 18. Since they are in ninth place in the league table, they really don’t have much to lose.
This matchup pits two of the best defensive teams in Ligue 1 against one another, making it possible that the outcome will be close. The hosts need points to survive, but they might be distracted by the Coupe de France semifinals on April 5 and give Reims the advantage.
Despite this, Reims should be able to recover from their disappointing loss to Marseille last weekend. They still have access to Folarin Balogun, one of the league’s most dangerous strikers, and they have beaten Nantes once this season.
Prediction: Nantes 1-2 Reims
Reims has dominated recent matches between them. Despite having only one victory at the Stade Gabriel Montpied since 2014, they have won four of their last six games against Nantes.
The recent form of Nantes has been quite subpar. Since February 12, they have not won, and in their five subsequent games, they have only scored two points out of a possible 15. Despite playing against some of the best teams in Ligue 1, they have only failed to score in one of those games.
Due to Reims’ prolonged unbeaten streak, a few of their players have moved up the Ligue 1 individual feats lists. Folarin Balogun, who leads the team with 17 goals, is second to only two players, and Alexis Flips, who has six assists, is joint fifth.
Reims’ first defeat under the 30-year-old, unqualified young manager William Still came against Marseille last weekend. The defenses on both sides are relatively strong. Only Nice (25 goals) and Lens (21 goals) have allowed fewer goals than Reims (28), making Nantes the lowest-scoring team in the bottom half.
Pedro Chirivella and Quentin Merlin of Nantes are expected to miss this game due to groin injuries, and Marcus Coco and Charles Traore are also likely to miss the game due to minor injuries. In the past four and a half years, Andy Delort has scored 62 goals in Ligue 1, but he hasn’t had much success since moving from Nice in January.
Still has nearly the entire Reims squad to choose from here. The only injury concern is Noah Holm, who did not play for Norway’s Under-21 team last week, but he might play again soon. After brief absences, Myziane Maolida and Emmanuel Agbadou both returned to the matchday squad against Marseille.
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