Preview: Saint-Etienne vs. Rodez AF – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday’s Ligue 2 clash between Saint-Etienne and Rodez, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Both looking for a glorious return to the top table of French football, Saint-Etienne and Rodez AF will meet in the Ligue 2 playoffs on Friday night at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

Les Verts qualified straight into this stage of the playoffs due to their league position, whilst Les Sangs had to fend off the attentions of Paris FC in the previous round.

Match preview

© Reuters

Following an eighth-placed finish in Ligue 2 – and subsequently a failed attempt to earn promotion at the first try – Saint-Etienne are making a genuine case for a place back in Ligue 1 this season, with Les Verts now just three matches away from returning to the top division.

Despite a defeat to third-tier bound Quevilly on the final day of the regular season, Etienne still managed to secure third place in the Ligue 2 standings, meaning that they avoided entering this season’s playoffs at the earliest stage.

With the first leg of this semi-final clash at home, Olivier Dall’Oglio‘s troops will be looking to continue their stellar in form in front of their own supporters, with Saint-Etienne currently unbeaten in seven contests at their base.

Making a name for himself in Ligue 2 over recent years with the likes of Niort and Sochaux, striker Ibrahim Sissoko has hit the ground running during his first campaign for Les Verts, making the net ripple on 12 occasions in league appearances so far.

After a game full of drama, dismissals and penalty misses, Rodez managed to qualify into the next stage of this season’s playoffs after beating Paris FC during a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw in normal side between the sides ranked fourth and fifth in the Ligue 2 standings.

Nouha Dicko opened the scoring for the visitors at Stade Paul Lignon in the fourth minute, but Rodez rallied into the lead thanks to strikes from Bradley Danger and Killian Corredor, although Paris were able to force the game to be decided from 12 yards as Kouadio-Yves Dabila netted a 96th-minute equaliser.

With Serge Raux Yao, Lucas Buades and Giovani Haag all missing for Rodez in the shootout first off, it appeared as if Les Sangs would definitely be remaining in Ligue 2, but a turnaround in the penalties knocked Paris out of the playoffs.

Didier Santini‘s side need to move quickly away from their poor form on the road if they are to secure a surprise win at Saint-Etienne on Friday night, when the visitors will be looking to secure only their seventh away victory of the campaign on the 20th attempt.

Saint-Etienne Ligue 2 form:

Rodez AF Ligue 2 form:

Team News

Saint-Etienne could make some alterations to side their side after defeat last time out, but Mickael Nade and Anthony Briancon should keep their spots at centre-back.

The same cannot be said for goalkeeper Etienne Green, who is highly likely to be replaced by first-choice stopper Gautier Larsonneur in between the sticks.

After helping their side to victory from off the bench last time out, the likes of Raphael Lipinski and Wilitty Younoussa could be handed starts.

Les Sangs are set to continue with their potential two-man forward line on Friday of Corredor and Andreas Hountondji – the pair have 26 Ligue 2 goals between them so far this season.

Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:
Larsonneur; Appiah, Briancon, Nade, Petrot; Moueffek, Monconduit, Cardona, Chambost, Cafaro; Sissoko

Rodez AF possible starting lineup:
Jaouen; Danger, Yao, Mambo; Haag, Sylla, Rajot, Taibi, Abdallah; Corredor, Hountondji

We say: Saint-Etienne 2-0 Rodez AF

Saint-Etienne have home advantage and finished higher than their opponents in the regular season, so Les Verts should be confident of progressing into the playoff final.

Rodez scrapped through the last stage on penalties following an energy-draining 90 minutes, and we reckon that Les Sangs will run out of fuel on their quest for promotion.

Data Analysis

Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats up until an hour before kickoff, suggested the most likely outcome of this match was a Saint-Etienne win with a probability of 51.2%. A win for Rodez AF had a probability of 25.03% and a draw had a probability of 23.8%.

The most likely scoreline for a Saint-Etienne win was 1-0 with a probability of 9.86%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome were 2-1 (9.67%) and 2-0 (8.52%). The likeliest Rodez AF win was 0-1 (6.49%), while for a drawn scoreline it was 1-1 (11.2%). The actual scoreline of 2-0 was predicted with an 8.5% likelihood. Our team at Sports Mole correctly predicted a 2-0 win for Saint-Etienne in this match and our data analysis correctly predicted the win for Saint-Etienne.

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