Bennett Morgan previews Guingamp’s fourth Europa League game of the season.
So far, it seems that every time it has come to previewing En Avant de Guingamp’s European adventure, the club’s fortunes have dipped and ebbed, dodging any attempt to predict their form. On the eve of their latest UEFA Cup bow, it was that impressive 2-1 win over Bordeaux that had us up in our seats. Then followed the 3-0 loss at Fiorentina in Europe and three consecutive losses in the league. Then, just as many predicted a stuffing at the hands of Greek league leaders PAOK Salonika, the Guingampais and Marveaux pulled a quick fire 2-0 triumph out of the bag. A Nantes style smash and grab followed at the Roudourou next but, undeterred, Gourvennec swaggered into Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy, won the football match 1-2 with goals from Beauvue and Schwartz after half time, and promptly headed back to Brittany with all three of those precious Ligue 1 points.
Those two wins in 3 games against two top Europa League clubs in PAOK and Lille had us here at Get French Football News foreseeing the Red and Blacks turning over relative minnows Dinamo Minsk, only for us to be slightly under whelmed with the subsequent scoreless draw. This to date is Guingamp’s only draw in any competition so far this season. Nevertheless, it was a solid defensive performance from Guingamp who were actually second best throughout, and most among the Roudourou faithful were expecting more of the same in their next domestic outing. But it was not to be as all the wrong records were broken against a rampant Nice who crushed the poor Bretons 2-7. Guingamp had led through Beauvue, but capitulated as Brazilian Carlos Eduardo fired in 5 goals. Ronnie Schwartz consoled his team’s supporters with a goal at 1-6 before Nice grabbed another through Bautheac. The club’s media speedily team uploaded three apologetic videos to their website with interviews from manager Jocelyn Gourvennec, Captain Lionel Mathis and defender Maxime Baca. Mathis readily confessed his “shame” at losing by such a margin. Perhaps fatigue due to their European travels was partly to blame, although Gourvennec was quick to brush that particular excuse aside.
Last weekend’s round of fixtures saw controversial flag waving Corsicans SC Bastia make their way to the Stade Du Roudourou for something of a relegation 6 pointer and ultimately something of an employment must winner for Bastia manager Claude Makélélé. Unfortunately for Makélélé, Yatabaré’s good work at the far post from a 32nd minute corner forced defender Gillet to knee the ball past his own keeper and into the net. The score line remained unchanged until the final whistle, prompting cheers of defiance from the Red and Black army, and a long miserable journey back to the Mediterranean for the boys in Bastia’s blue, minus Makélélé.
At least the Bretons are consistent in their unpredictability. Dinamo Minsk meanwhile, who are next in the ring at the Roudourou, have also played two matches since the draw against Guingamp two weeks back, winning one away against Shakhtyor 1-2 and losing the other to bitter title rivals BATE Borisov, also 1-2. Although with 29 matches played in their domestic division and with 60 points to their name, it is fair to say any comparison between the two clubs’ positions would be fruitless.
With 64 points, BATE Borisov sit 4 ahead of Dinamo Minsk as the pair continue their eternal struggle for national supremacy and a place in UEFA’s top competition, with second best entered into the Europa League. Not that competing in the Champions’ League has brought much joy to BATE’s fans, losing 6-0 to Porto and 0-7 and Shakhter Donetsk in their group so far. Although the extra income earned from broadcasting rights can’t hurt, especially when it comes to asserting financial dominance over the rest of Belarus’ Premier League. So that 1-2 defeat of Guingamp’s next home opponents and sole title rivals Dinamo Minsk must have felt that much sweeter in the last round of league fixtures.
Whilst they were the dominant force last time out in Minsk, Dinamo will have breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle, having kept their first clean sheet in Europe this year. Defender and captain Molosh failed to make a starting appearance, but a Kontsevoy-Palitsevich central defensive pairing held the Guingamp attack with relative ease. Thursday will see the Minsk side make their 100th European appearance, the previous 99 apparently yielding an equal amount of wins and losses, with 27 draws. It will be interesting to see if Guingamp can tip the Byelorussians into the negative come the referee’s final whistle on Thursday.
Squad Selection and Tactics:
With 9 points, Fiorentina are clear leaders at the top of Group K. Most would judge it to be between En Avant de Guingamp with 4, PAOK Salonika with 3 and Dinamo Minsk with 1 point for the second berth and qualification to the knock-out stages. Thus, Gourvennec and side will be well motivated to get these three points under their belt and establish some notion of security in that 2nd place they currently, precariously, occupy. As mentioned, Guingamp’s league form is highly changeable, and Gourvennec may decide that a slightly weakened team may still be able to see off Dinamo at a rowdy and enthusiastic Stade du Roudourou, and hope the atmosphere will push the Guingampais onto a win. Perhaps his selection last time out will give a clue as to whom we’ll see start this time round.
At the last match against in Minsk anticipated changes to playing personnel were manifested in Alioui and Kerbrat, who replaced Schwartz and Angoua respectively. Alioui played up top ahead of a 5 man midfield consisting of Mathis in the holding role, with Sankharé and Yatabaré on the left and right centre. Marveaux was on the right wing and Beauvue the left. That hefty midfield helped to squeeze Dinamo Minsk on a tight pitch, restricting play. The defensive line up was what most pleased Guingamp’s fans. Jeremy Sorbon seems to be the only Guingamp defender to regularly keep his place. Maxime Baca, who performed so well as part of the heroic triumph at Lille, one week later was party to one of the most embarrassing defeats suffered at home in Guingamp for many years. Against Bastia Sorbon, Dos Santos as right back, Kerbrat as fellow centre back and young Baissama Sankoh as left back performed well. Bastia enjoyed 58% of possession but could not fashion a good enough chance against the Bretons. Perhaps Gourvennec will opt to include Angoua this time in place of Kerbrat to give him some game time in the midst of his domestic ban for that red card at Lille. The 4-5-1 is expected, and with Marveaux and Schwartz substituted early for defensive reinforcements in Alioui and Sankharé on Saturday, we might even see their inclusion. Although Gourvennec will undoubtedly have one eye on the away trip to high flyers Lyon at the weekend, followed by that infamous Breton derby at home to Rennes in the following round.
Dinamo Minsk’s manager Vladimir Zhuravel has brought with him 19 of his senior squad according to Dinamo Minsk’s official site. This might suggest the basis of his starting eleven has already been decided. Regular defensive partners Konstevoi and Palitsevich will expect to regain their places, although Molosh started and scored what turned out to the winning goal 10 days ago against Shakhtyor and, as expected, has travelled to Brittany with his team mates. Stasevich captained Dinamo last time out, however, and many would expect the same at the Roudourou. With 8 goals, the joint top scorer featured on the right of a midfielder whose left wing was former Parisien Dja Djédjé. The latter was substituted after 56 minutes and replaced with Norwegian Diomande to add a little more pace to the wing, but to no avail. Despite enjoyed 57% of the possession the Belorussian midfield could provide no meaningful service to Adamovic up front, who had scored previously against Shakhtyor. Still Adamovic and his Uruguayan strike partner should both start in a 4-4-1-1 as Dinamo go for the jugular. Simply put, with one point from a possible 9 and playing their second place rivals, they have no choice. They knew it last time and were considerably more intense in their play than their French visitors, completing 385 out of their 444 passes (compared to Guingamp’s 192 out of 234). They had sixteen shots at goal compared to Guingamp’s eleven, but only 5 on target compared to Guingamp’s 4. These figures suggest that Dinamo Minsk were almost frantic in their vain attempts to gain the advantage, whilst Guingamp were more clinical and accurate with what little possession or chances they got.
Younousse Sankharé (En Avant de Guingamp): Not so much a danger man as he is a solid left sided midfielder, the young man was replaced in the 81st minute by Diallo in the last Europa League match against Dinamo, after having a top game. He deserves to be recognised for his good defensive work as well as the intelligent counter attacking football he played with Beauvue down the left of the pitch, relieving his beleaguered defence.
Hernan Figueredo (Dinamo Minsk): Nenad Adamovic’s partner in crime up front, the 29 year-old plays in the space created between the midfield and the sole man upfront. Jacobsen had a tough time containing him in Minsk and will undoubtedly be seen by manager Zhurvel as key to any successful outcome in Brittany.
“Always together, always onwards” roughly translates En Avant de Guingamp’s motto, and so their 15,000 strong support will prove on Thursday night. The atmosphere will be hostile at the Stade du Roudourou and Dinamo will not be able to play at the tempo they set for themselves last time out. Gourvennec will hope to improve on the fairly fortuitous victory over a poor Bastia and will hopefully not consider this Europa League clash secondary to league form, especially considering this weekend’s foreboding encounter with Lyon.
Prediction: EA Guingamp 2-0 Dinamo Minsk