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Europa League PREVIEW | OGC Nice vs Krasnodar (8/12/16)

With Nice already eliminated from the group stage, Lucien Favre will be focused on rotating his squad and giving opportunities to players who won’t be starting in the league.

Krasnodar need just a point to qualify for the next stage ahead of Red Bull Salzburg. However, even with a loss Krasnodar have a good chance of qualifying because of their superior goal difference (Krasnodar are 3 goals ahead).

This is a very impressive accomplishment for a team that was not given much chance of qualifying in a group containing more talented sides like Nice and Schalke.

Team News

Nice have nothing to play for in this game and the squad Favre has picked reflects that. Regular starters Dante, Malang Sarr, Ricardo Pereira, Dalbert, Vincent Koziello, Jean Michel Seri, Wylan Cyprien, Younes Belhanda and Alassane Plea are all absent and are being rested for Nice’s big match against PSG.

There is something for Nice fans to be excited about, however, as both Mario Balotelli and Maxime Le Marchand are in the squad after returning for injury. Balotelli is expected to start from the bench against Krasnodar and start against PSG next weekend, which will give Nice a major boost.

The return of Maxime Le Marchand will be a welcome sight for Nice fans after the French defender suffered a bad injury in the middle of last season.

FC Krasnodar have a completely clean bill of health and have no suspensions to deal with. Krasnodar will be hoping for a result in the same vein as matchday two when they beat Nice 5-2 at home.

Danger Men

Arnaud Lusamba (OGC Nice) – The young French midfielder is clearly enormously talented as his 10 goals in the past two seasons for AS Nancy prove. However, the 19 year old has struggled to insert himself into Nice’s starting lineup this season.  

This is understandable considering that he is competing with players such as Younes Belhanda, Alassane Plea and Valentin Eysseric for a place in the starting lineup.

Lusamba is almost certain to start against Krasnodar and the game could be the perfect opportunity for the midfielder to force himself back into contention and prove what he is capable of.

Joaozinho (FC Krasnodar) – The Brazilian midfielder has been hugely effective for Krasnodar this season and is their top scorer in the Europa league with three goals.

Two of these goals came against Nice in the reverse fixture. As for the first time this season, the Nice backline showed signs of weakness thanks to Joaozinho’s pace and dribbling ability. If Krasnodar are to make a sustained run in Europe this season then Joaozinho is certain to be a big part of their success.

Prediction

Nice have absolutely nothing to play for while Krasnodar still need a result to ensure qualification. Because of this and how weak the Nice squad is, the only result I can see is a Krasnodar win.

Prediction OGC Nice 1-2 FC Krasnodar

L.M.

 

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