Nantes’ run going into Sunday’s clash with Nice makes for bleak reading: they have lost two on the spin and have picked up only one win so far in 2021/22.
Will Moses Simon help Nantes end their Nice nightmare?
The Super Eagle has been the Canaries’ top performer in the opening weeks this season and may hold the keys to halting a poor run against Les Aiglons.
Furthermore, the Canaries’ recent form against gameweek five’s opponents exacerbates a fear that the pair’s next meeting will go against Moses Simon and his colleagues. Nantes have won only one in the last nine encounters against Les Aiglons, losing a staggering five and drawing three times in that run of matches.
On Sunday, Antoine Kombouare’s team welcome the Eaglets to Stade de la Beaujoire looking to turn the tide against a club that’s been a thorn in their side in recent meetings.
Their last win against this weekend’s opponents came almost two years ago — a 1-0 success in October 2019 — and another loss will make it four defeats in their last five home games against Nice.
Nantes’ results on their turf in 2021 alone further discourage even the most optimistic supporter, due to its discouraging state — two wins, four draws and seven defeats…no team in Ligue 1 has lost more games since the turn of the year!
Indeed, Nice’s unbeaten run in their opening three games means the average observer will tip the visitors to extend this streak to four matches.
They have also won two away matches on the trot (this run began last season) and a third will be the Eaglets' third straight success on the road for the first time since 2015 when they claimed maximum points in three matches on their travels from September to October six years ago.
While the facts point to an away win on Sunday, Simon’s talismanic presence in the Nantes attack gives the home team reason to believe they can claim a positive result this time.
Before the start of the current round of fixtures in France’s top division, the Nigerian led the way for assists in Ligue 1 with three, jointly with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe.
In fact, the West African attacker hasn’t only been the league top creator but is also his side’s only sole source of creativity so far, providing the assist for the Canaries’ three strikes this term.
Simon’s three big chances created so far makes him the only player on Nantes’ roster to have created opportunities in that category and his three key passes per game ranks significantly higher than his colleagues after four games.
In the match before the international break — a 1-0 loss at the hands of Olympique Lyon — the Super Eagle had a staggering five key passes, more than any player on both sides, was involved in seven shot-creating actions, also a game-high, and was forward-thinking when he had possession—his 11 progressive carries topped every other player involved.
Unfortunately for Simon, his mostly positive showings haven’t resulted in favourable results for Nantes, but Sunday evening would be a good time to reverse the trend this season and turn things around against Nice.
Indeed, if Kombouare’s side are to have a fighting chance, their Nigerian talisman will need to be at his very best against Christophe Galtier’s in-form troops.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
Follow him on Twitter @theReal_SeyE
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