Nice go into this match in superb domestic form and will be looking to translate this into Europe after suffering a 0-1 defeat in their opening Europa League game against Schalke. The pressure will be on for Les Aiglons to come away with three points and not fall further behind in the group. A loss tonight would arguably already put themselves in an impossible position.
FC Krasnodar started the season badly which culminated in manager Oleg Kononov resigning. His assistant coach Igor Shalimov was appointed as caretaker manager. Since then their form has improved dramatically, notably recording a win against Red Bull Salzburg on Shalimov’s debut.
Team News and Tactics
FC Krasnodar will be without Mamaev and Wanderson because of injury while Charles Kabore and Sergey Petrov are both out due to suspension. Marat Izmailov will start on the bench but is expected to appear at some stage. I expect Krasnodar to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Stanislav Kritsyuk in goal.
The backline should consist of Vitali Kaleshin, Naldo, Granqvist and Jedrzejczyk. Protecting the defence will most likely be Kouassi Eboue and Ahmedov with Dmitri Torbinski playing as an attacking midfielder. Joaozinho and Bystrov are expected to start on the wings with Fyodor Smolov playing by himself upfront.
Nice welcome back Valentin Eysseric from suspension and have no major injury concerns besides Maxime Le Marchand who is out with a long term problem. Mathieu Bodmer was originally in the squad but is sick and has been replaced by Alexy Bosetti. Balotelli, Belhanda, Koziello and Jean Michel Seri where all rested in the 0-1 win against Nancy on the weekend and are expected to start this match.
Favre will almost certainly line Nice up in the now familiar 3-5-2 formation. Yoan Cardinale is an automatic starter in goal and, barring any disasters, will be in the lineup. Dante, Sarr and Baysse will most likely continue their defensive partnership with Pereira and Dalbert playing as wingbacks.
The midfield will almost certainly consist of Jean Michel Seri, Wylan Cyprien and Vincent Koziello. Mario Balotelli is expected to start upfront, with Younes Belhanda most likely playing slightly behind him.
Krasnodar – Fyodor Smolov. The Russian striker has been in superb form this season and has scored eight goals in eight games. Krasnodar’s hopes of getting a result depend on him getting the right service in the box.
Nice – Younes Belhanda. Nice are a better team when he plays and the 4-0 drubbing of Monaco was a perfect example of this, with the Moroccan grabbing two assists . Belhanda has the ability to change games in an instant with his passing and Nice’s chances of getting a positive result will greatly increase if he continues his form.
Nice need points and are the clear favourites. However, Krasnodar are in good form and will be confident of getting a result. Russia is never an easy place to go and I’m expecting a frustrating draw which will leave Krasnodar satisfied but will put huge pressure on Nice when they play Red Bull Salzburg on matchday three.
Prediction: FC Krasnodar 1-1 Nice