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Nantes and Strasbourg face off in crucial relegation battle

In previous seasons, Nantes’ woeful run of no win in ten Ligue 1 matches (D4, L6) may have gone unpunished considering they come into the round ten points clear of 18th. However, this Ligue 1 season will of course see four sides suffer the dreaded drop, meaning the hosts – sitting in 17th – are now in the relegation zone after their recent 2-0 defeat to Brest; albeit on goal difference alone.
Nantes did have the distraction of a run all the way to the Coupe de France final, but last weekend’s humiliating 5-1 thrashing by Toulouse in the showpiece event would have left under pressure manager Antoine Kombouaré wondering whether it was all worth it. Now they desperately need points as they welcome the only other side also on 32 points, 16th-placed Strasbourg.
That makes this the definition of a ‘six-pointer’ contest, but Strasbourg may arrive with more confidence. The visitors did suffer defeat last time out at Lyon (2-1), but won their two league matches prior to that, both against current bottom ten sides in Reims and AC Ajaccio.
They have also scored in each of their last five away league matches (W1, D2, L2) and in their last four visits to Nantes too, none of which saw them lose (W3, D1)!
Three of those H2H games also saw them keep a clean sheet, which is part of an impressive turnaround given Strasbourg were winless in their previous 31 competitive visits to Nantes (D8, L23). Securing another H2H win would be impressive, but could also take Strasbourg as high as 14th place and put daylight between them and the relegation zone.
Players to watch: With three goals in his last four home matches, Nantes fans will be hoping Ludovic Blas can help them on their way to securing a much-needed three points. Similarly, Habib Diallo has been in the thick of the action on the road recently for Strasbourg, scoring three goals in his last three away league games while also picking up a red card.
Hot stat: Strasbourg are the only side yet to win when conceding first (D7, L12).
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