St Étienne have given themselves a fantastic chance of qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa after their heroic 1-0 victory at Dnipro on matchday three, writes Lee Davey.
Christophe Galtier’s side are joint second in Group G alongside Thursday’s opponents Dnipro and a win for Les Verts, will put daylight between themselves and the Ukrainians which will put them in the driving seat to qualify.
St Étienne will be hoping that they can count on their fierce home support in ‘the cauldron’ to fire them to glory on Thursday. In contrast, Les Verts won in an empty stadium two weeks ago in the Ukraine and this time round with home comforts, they will fancy their chances of taking all three points again.
St Étienne have drawn their last five home games in the Europa League/UEFA Cup and they will need to break that barrier if they are going to progress in the competition.
Christophe Galtier’s men will be buoyed by their 3-0 home victory over Reims in Ligue 1 on Saturday and will hope the result will inspire another winning performance on Thursday.
Ahead of part two of the double header with St Étienne, Dnipro will be looking for a far greater improvement in their approach to the game after a poor performance two weeks ago.
The home side registered just three shots on target in the 90 minutes and were a shadow of the team that had been performing so well domestically.
The Ukrainians come into Thursday’s game on the back of a 1-1 draw at lowly Olimpik Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League, but a win in France on Thursday could reignite their European campaign.
Christophe Galtier welcomes back Moustapha Bayal Sall and Robert beric after suspension and will have his stars available for this group G encounter. Although Thursday’s game is pivotal for Les Verts, Galtier may look to utilise his squad to the full and use some of the players that did not start Saturday’s game with Rennes – such as Jean Christophe Bahebeck.
Galtier will certainly have one eye on next Sunday’s huge Rhone Derby against Lyon at the Stade Gerland, when selecting his side.
Dnipro coach Myron Markevych will have a strong squad to choose from and will be expected to field a full strength side for the long trip to France. Last season’s runners-up will be anxious to not fall at the first hurdle this time round.
Players to Watch
Although the Slovenian international has not performed at his best recently, there is little doubt of his impact and his ability to deliver and match defining moment. Beric is always a danger in and around the penalty box and Dnipro will need to be on guard if they are to prevent the striker from adding to his total after his solitary strike against Rosenborg.
The Ukrainian striker is still Dnipro’s top scorer this season despite Seleznyov failing to score in his last three games in all competitions. Seleznyov started the game last time out against St Étienne and looked very out-of-sorts. After a strong start to the season domestically, the striker will be hoping to show his capabilities on the European stage and add to his two Europa league goals so far this season.
The home side finally have a taste of that winning feeling in Europe and with a strong home support behind them, Les Verts are more than capable of inflicting a second successive defeat on a Dnipro side who have lost their way in recent weeks. Christophe Galtier will know that his side have a pivotal week ahead of them before the international break and St Étienne will go all out to win both and boost their chances of qualification in Europe.
St Étienne 2-1 Dnipro