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Feb 5, 2022 at 4pm UK
St EtienneSaint-Etienne
MontpellierMontpellier HSC
Hamouma (82'), Nordin (90'), Khazri (90+2')
Mangala (16')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Wahi (11')

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

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

After ending a lengthy losing run in Ligue 1 (seven games), Saint-Etienne have a chance to win consecutive domestic encounters for only the second time this season when hosting Montpellier HSC at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday.

Both teams were eliminated from the Coupe de France this past weekend as Les Verts conceded late to Bergerac Perigord in a 1-0 defeat in the Round of 16, while Olympique de Marseille knocked out La Paillade in a penalty shootout.

Match preview

After narrowly losing three consecutive matches by a single goal, Pascal Dupraz finally picked up his first league win in charge of Saint-Etienne last Wednesday, thanks to an own goal from Batista Mendy late in the opening half.

Since the sacking of Claude Puel in favour of the former Evian and Toulouse coach, this team have done a much better job of closing down the space allowed to opposing teams in their own third of the field, conceding a goal or fewer in three of their four Ligue 1 fixtures under Dupraz.

Throughout this campaign, it seems evident that there are a couple of key elements that have been hampering this teams success, a lack of quality in the final third, scoring the second-fewest goals domestically (19), along with some poor defensive play, conceding the second-most goals (43).

When you put those two figures together, it is no wonder they are staring relegation in the face at the moment, currently on 15 points, four fewer than Metz for a playoff, and five back of Bordeaux for a guaranteed place in the top flight beyond this season.

You have to go back to the 1995-96 campaign to remember the last time that the most prolific French club in terms of domestic titles won, were demoted, when the top flight was known as the French First Division.

Their victory over Angers in their previous domestic encounter may have been a confidence booster for this team, but being shut out and losing to a fourth-tier side as they did on Sunday should serve as a warning that Les Verts cannot afford to rest on their laurels and get too complacent.

With the dream of a third Coupe de France crown no longer a possibility, Olivier Dall'Oglio and his players will turn their attention to the domestic campaign, with a chance to qualify for Europe for the first time since making it to the Champions League group stage in 2012-13.

Even with the departure of Gaetan Laborde, who had three goals and set up a few as well before joining Rennes, this group have plenty of quality playmakers who can draw a lot of attention from other teams, leaving some openings to their attackers.

Five of their last seven league fixtures ended in victory, which is as many as they had in their opening 15 games this season, as only a point currently separates them from Strasbourg and a place in the Europa League in 2022-23.

Scoring goals has not been a problem for this side, having notched the third-most in the league (37), failing to find the back of the net only once in their last 10 matches played in all competitions.

This team have had to overcome their share of injuries, but they have proven to be a hard-working team who can win matches in a variety of different ways, namely with some solid midfielders who have been able to control the pace of numerous games.

They are an up-tempo side, who like to go forward in numbers and attack, and they can afford to do that with a goalkeeper who has played exceptionally well throughout the campaign, pulling off several spectacular saves.

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

Saint-Etienne form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Montpellier HSC form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Les Verts were busy during the winter transfer window, which closed earlier this week, adding striker Enzo Crivelli, on loan from Istanbul Basaksehir, signing defender Eliaquim Mangala, acquiring Falaye Sacko with a loan deal from Portuguese side Vitoria SC, while also releasing Alpha Sissoko, and loaning Ivorian striker Jean-Philippe Krasso to Ajaccio in Ligue 2.

Harold Moukoudi and Yvan Neyou remain with the Cameroon national team, who face Egypt in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday, while captain Wahbi Khazri could return soon after Tunisia were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Burkina Faso and Miguel Trauco played for Peru earlier this week, as his side drew 1-1 with Ecuador in World Cup qualifying.

Bakary Sako and Gabriel Silva have hamstring injuries, Saidou Sow is not expected back until the middle of the month at the earliest with a knee issue, Abdoulaye Bakayoko has a groin problem and Romain Hamouma is still dealing with a thigh injury.

Montpellier were fairly quiet on the transfer front, with only one move of note, signing midfielder Gabriel Bares for an undisclosed fee from Lausanne in Switzerland.

Valere Germain was taken out of their last league fixture versus Monaco because of a finger injury, Maxime Esteve has a thigh issue, Thibault Tamas and Pedro Mendes are dealing with ACL problems, Teji Savanier could return after missing their last match with a red card suspension and Ambroise Oyongo will be with the Cameroon national team for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Goalkeeper Jonas Omlin has done a terrific job of keeping his team in numerous games this season, making 66 saves domestically thus far, which is good for fourth in Ligue 1, while their reserve keeper Dimitry Bertaud nearly won them their Coupe de France tie, making several quality stops during that match, though he failed to save a single Marseille penalty.

Mihailo Ristic missed his kick in the shootout on Saturday, sending his side to defeat, while their leading goalscorer Stephy Mavididi had a brace in their last league match, a 3-2 win over Monaco, as Elye Wahi chipped in with his fifth of the campaign and his second assist.

Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:
Bernardoni; Nade, Kolodziejczak, Sacko, Mangala; Macon, Camara, Youssouf, Aouchiche; Sako, Crivelli

Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:
Omlin; Souquet, Cozza, Sakho, Ristic; Mollet, Ferri, Savanier, Chotard; Mavididi, Wahi

We say: Saint-Etienne 2-2 Montpellier HSC

The upgrades for Les Verts during the transfer window should provide this team with a much-needed spark, however it might take some time for all of those newcomers to learn a new style of play, while also building chemistry with their new teammates.

La Paillade have been clinical in the final third, though they have allowed their share of goals on the road this season as well, conceding three on three separate occasions in this domestic campaign.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 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 2.5:data

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