Istres vs Gazelec Ajaccio
Honours even between southern rivals
Istres will be weaker in midfield again as Driss Fettouhi is on Olympic duty in London with Morocco. They will miss his long-range shooting ability.
Gazelec Ajaccio welcome back centre-half Roderic Filippi and midfielder Mickael Seymand after suspension. The former is likely to go straight back into the side for Gazelec’s first Ligue 2 away game for more than two decades.
Injured/unavailable: Driss Fettouhi (international duty)
This is a southern derby but that doesn’t mean fans will flock to Stade Parsemain. Istres had Ligue 2’s lowest average home attendance last season (2,458), which means a lot of empty seats in a venue that has an official capacity of 17,500. It means Istres’ home games are often depressing spectacles, with fans gathered in small clutches surrounded by row upon row of bare concrete.
Istres’ home record is just 40% win rate over the past two seasons. That’s why I expect newly-promoted Gazelec Ajaccio to get a point here. The journey to Istres is just a short hop from Corsica compared to some of the trips they’ll make this season, and the feisty performance they produced at home to Caen (0-0) last weekend suggests Dominique Veilex’s side will prove tough opponents.
Both teams drew last weekend, with Istres picking up a point at Nantes (1-1). I expect another stalemate here.
HEAD TO HEAD
Istres have won three, drawn one and lost one of five home matches against Gazelec. The last of these games was back in 1992.
Papinade (James Eastham) has written about French football for nearly two decades. He had written for the French-language version of Champions (the official UEFA magazine of the Champions League) and appeared in L'Equipe and on France 2 television. He was also a French football columnist for France24 (the world's biggest French-language news channel). He has interviewed some of French football’s names, including Samir Nasri, Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc. He lives in Lille, northern France and attends Ligue 1 and 2 games on a weekly basis.