St Etienne vs Caen by Lucien
Even though they had the lead from the first leg played at home, players of St Etienne didn't manage to progress to the next stage of Europa League knockout phase, since they exited due away goal rule, winning the first leg 3:2, but then losing to Basel last Thursday evening 2:1. However, it has to be said that the defeat in Switzerland was quite undeserved and disappointing, since the team didn't look worse than the Swiss side, conceding a goal in 15th minute via Zuffi, but equalizing in 90th via Sall, just to see the team getting excluded with another goal from Zuffi in second minute of additional time.
As for Ligue 1, they took a point last weekend away from home against Marseille 1:1, extending their undefeated streak to four matches now. Whole game was too passive from both sides, since neither of them looked really threatening, while the hosts stood playing with a man less in 60th minute when defender N'Koulou had to leave the pitch. From that moment on, visitors had nothing but meaningless ball possession, but still managed to take the lead in 85th via Monnet-Paquet, however hosts replied in fourth minute of additional time via Batshuayi. They are now third together with Nice, being in a must win situation if the team is to chase the Champions League ticket. Home side will almost surely continue to play in 4-3-3 formation with Hamouma, Soderlund and Tanna as forwards. Midfielder Vincent Payot missed the game against Basel, but is set to return here. Team captain Loic Perrin remains doubtful for this game as he also missed the game in Switzerland, but still should recover in time. Suspended for this match remains central midfielder Renaud Cohade (11/0), while injured are left full back Pierre-Yves Polomat (13/0) and forward Robert Beric (9/3).
Caen broke a streak of three defeats in a row previous weekend, as the team managed to take a narrow 1:0 victory at home against Rennes. Their visitors had more of the ball possession, but didn't manage to do anything with it, while the hosts looked more concrete and somehow deservedly celebrated the victory with the only goal being scored in 54th minute via Ntibazonkiza.
After this victory, Caen remained at the upper part of the table, being currently at seventh position with only two points less than third placed Caen and St Etienne and still in a great situation regarding their European exit - however, recent downtrend in form is making questions whether the team will be able to maintain the same form they were showing earlier during the season. Caen is also supposed to play in 4-3-3 formation with Ntibazonkiza, Bazile and Delort as their forwards. Midfielders Jonathan Delaplace (15/0) and Ismael Diomande (7/0) are continuing to be injured, while defensive Nicolas Seube (18/0) and central defender Damien Da Silva (21/2) are both suspended. Syam Ben Youssef will probably earn some playing time, with Jordan Adeoti probably switching to the position of central defender, with Alaeddine Yahia being doubtful for this one.
St Etienne were knocked out of the Europa League competition few days ago and the team can now solely focus on Ligue 1 duties. They are in a good form in recent weeks and being strong performers at home, I see them wining this one against Caen that anyway over performed this season, but also has defensive problems in front of today's game.