Tonight’s Europa League is fixture is huge for the home side, as St. Etienne’s draw last round against Anderlecht meant that ASSE are currently third in their Europa League group after two drab draws.
Last time out, St. Etienne had to grab a late equalizer at home to the Belgian side, but the result left them in a precarious position going into the third round of fixtures in the competition.
Qabala come into this fixture onto the back off of two defeats against Mainz and Anderlecht and need to pick up something in France to stand any chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds, something that already looks bleak for the minnows.
Les Verts come into this clash in poor form, drawing at home to newly promoted Dijon on Sunday after a defeat to arch rivals Lyon, which was as low as it got for Christophe Galtier’s side. The defeat left St. Etienne 9th in Ligue 1, level on points with Lyon, but their focus will turn towards the Europa League.
Qabala are in relatively good form in the Azerbaijan Premier League, sitting top of the table and on the back of a victory against Qarabag. However, after defeats against Mainz and Anderlecht, they are in need of a miracle to qualify from this group.
Team News and Tactics:
ASSE reverted to a 4-3-3 formation last time out against Dijon, but it didn’t exactly work for Les Verts, as they once again had to resort to a last minute equalizer thanks to Nolan Roux. For weeks, St. Etienne haven’t been picking up the victories that they expected and needed, so a change in tactics could be the order this Thursday.
Henri Saivet and Nolan Roux could return to the first team midweek, with the latter scoring the vital goal on Sunday. ASSE will be expecting to win the game and win handsomely, so a 4-3-3 may be the formation to go with.
Qabala are likely to be rather defensive in France, but Frenchman Bagaliy Dabo could lead the line for the Azerbaijani’s. They won’t be expecting much out of this fixture, but Dabo could be the one that Qabala need to steal a victory.
Nolan Roux – St. Étienne
The striker came off of the bench this past Sunday to grab a point against Dijon, and if he starts Thursday night then he could be in for a night of goals, or at the very least a lot of chances.
His instinct in front of goal could be what gives ASSE the victory on Thursday, and could be the springboard for a rich vain of form for Roux and the squad. He will come up against a tough task of facing a defensive side, but he should be able to come up with the goods.
Bagaliy Dabo – Qabala
The French striker is the only likely threat for Qabala this game, but his goals this season have been the reason for Qabala’s domestic success. Goals against Qarabag, Sumqyit and a hat trick against Neftci shows that Dabo can be deadly in front of goal, but against top opposition he could struggle.
If Qabala can give him some chances, he could put them away but I wouldn’t bet that Dabo will get many clear cut chances in front of goal this Thursday night.
Personally, I feel that St. Etienne need to win by at least 4 goals to make any sort of impact in the Europa League. Their two previous games haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but a comprehensive win against Qabala could be the confidence boost the team needs.
As for Qabala, they will obviously try to get something out of the game, but realistically they will need to keep the score down against Les Verts.
A 4-0 win for Christophe Galtier would be sufficient enough to make an impression, but whether or not they can put 4 away is a different question.