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Apr 4, 2021 at 4.05pm UK
St EtienneSaint-Etienne

Alakouch (11'), Ripart (37'), Cubas (43'), Duljevic (89'), Briancon (89')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Khazri (23'), Bouanga (66')
Khazri (45+1'), Bouanga (76'), Puel (86')

Preview: Nimes vs. Saint-Etienne - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Nimes vs. Saint-Etienne - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Nimes and Saint-Etienne, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Nimes will be aiming to build on their remarkable triumph at Lille when they welcome a struggling Saint-Etienne to the Stade des Costieres in Ligue 1 on Sunday afternoon.

While the hosts managed to get the better of a title-chasing team before the international break, Saint-Etienne were simply outplayed by Monaco in a 4-0 defeat last time out.

Match preview

Renaud Ripart has found the back of the net 47 times during his 10-year stint with Nimes, but he will struggle to score a more memorable goal for Les Crocodiles after his 45th-minute effort propelled Nimes to a shock 2-1 win on Lille's turf on March 21.

Moussa Kone had drawn first blood for Nimes before Xeka levelled the scores with his head, but Ripart's winner saw the Pascal Plancque revolution continue as Nimes continue to stake their claim for another season of top-flight football.

Les Crocodiles remain in danger as they sit 18th in the table - level with 17th-placed Lorient, who are enjoying a rich vein of form themselves - but with four wins from their last seven outings in the top flight, Nimes' never-say-die attitude since Plancque took the reins has certainly been one of the most admirable aspects of the relegation dogfight.

Plancque has only witnessed his side suffer one defeat in that run - a narrow 2-1 loss to Nice on March 3 - and Nimes have also navigated their last four home matches without losing, so avoiding defeat here would see them string together a five-game unbeaten run at the Stade des Costieres for the first time since May 2019.

The signs are overwhelmingly positive for Les Crocodiles, but Plancque still has plenty of work to do if his side are to escape the clutches of relegation, and they will be praying that Brest can do them a favour against Lorient a couple of hours before they go head-to-head with Saint-Etienne.

With three defeats from their last four matches, Saint-Etienne have been unable to prevent their gradual but inexorable slide down the table, as Claude Puel's side were simply outclassed and outfought by Monaco in a crushing 4-0 loss last time out.

Stevan Jovetic, Aurelien Tchouameni, Sofiane Diop and Krepin Diatta all made the net ripple at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard as Saint-Etienne could not build on their narrow victory over Angers on March 13, and only four points separate Les Verts from their bottom-three opponents with eight games left to play.

Currently 16th in the table, Saint-Etienne's Ligue 1 status is far from guaranteed, but Puel can take solace from the fact that his side have come up trumps in three of their last four away outings in Ligue 1 - keeping three clean sheets to boot - although their one defeat in that run was to another relegation rival in Lorient.

Puel has now taken charge of 50 top-flight matches in the Saint-Etienne dugout, and having won just 14 of them, he boasts the second-worst record from Verts managers who have overseen at least half a century of matches - only behind Elie Baup during his ill-fated stint between 2004 and 2006.

However, Saint-Etienne are unbeaten in their last 22 league matches against Nimes and drew 2-2 with them earlier in the season, while a Mathieu Debuchy winner saw Les Verts win 1-0 on Nimes' turf in the 2019-20 campaign.

Nimes Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W

Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Nimes manager Plancque would ideally opt to name an unchanged XI from their win at Lille, but Lamine Fomba will be forced to sit this one out due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

Lucas Deaux should therefore earn a recall to the midfield, while unfamiliar centre-back pairing Keylan Guessoum and Naomichi Ueda are likely to continue over Loick Landre, Pablo Martinez and Anthony Briancon, with the latter two still doubtful.

Zinedine Ferhat was once again involved in Nimes' forays forward against Lille - providing the assist for Ripart's winner - and he will aim to build on his 11 goal contributions versus a leaky Saint-Etienne this weekend.

Saint-Etienne saw three players in Jessy Moulin, Adil Aouchiche and Arnaud Nordin test positive for coronavirus before their showdown with Monaco, but all three are back in the fold and ready to be called upon here.

Veteran attacker Romain Hamouma is nearing a return from a hamstring injury and is in with a chance of being fit for this one, but Ryad Boudebouz is nursing an ankle problem and will not take part.

The returning Aouchiche should fill the void left by Boudebouz in midfield, while super sub Charles Abi is pushing for a recall to the attack.

Nimes possible starting lineup:
Reynet; Alakouch, Guessoum, Ueda, Meling; Cubas; Ferhat, Deaux, Ripart, Eliasson; Kone

Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:
Moulin; Moukoudi, Cisse, Kolodziejczak; Debuchy, Youssouf, Camara, Bouanga; Aouchiche; Khazri, Abi

We say: Nimes 2-1 Saint-Etienne

Nimes are truly a force to be reckoned with under Plancque, and they will feel confident about their chances of beating anyone after taking all three points home from Lille. Saint-Etienne will be boosted by several returning players and have impressed on the road, but Nimes are only looking upwards and we cannot see their momentum taking a hit here, so another win for the in-form Crocodiles is our prediction.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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