Four defeats and two draws in four matches. OGC Nice, one of the surprise teams of the first part of the season, went through a (very) difficult period between the beginning of February and the beginning of March. Fortunately for them, the Aiglons achieved a significant success against RC Lens (1-3), one of their direct competitors in the race for Europe, just before the international break. The fact remains that their position is no longer optimal. They, who have long been runners-up to Paris SG, are now in fifth place in the standings with only a few points ahead of Olympique de Marseille and Stade Rennais, two teams who have been making a comeback in recent weeks.

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Suffice to say that they absolutely need points to get back into the race for qualifying places for the next edition of the Champions League. That’s good, Francesco Farioli and his men welcome FC Nantes, this Sunday afternoon (3 p.m.), as part of the 27th day of Ligue 1. A team in the red, both literally and figuratively. Currently in a play-off position, the Canaries recently parted ways with Jocelyn Gourvennec and decided to recall…Antoine Kombouaré for a new maintenance mission. So, on paper, the Gym appears logically favorite despite its current poor form.

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And he intends to take advantage of this meeting to move forward. Especially at the Allianz Riviera, where he collected a large number of points between summer and winter (no defeats!): “During the first leg, we mainly built our capital points, our successes, at the House. Until the Lens match, then Metz which was the first return match, we had an incredible series in front of our supporters. We have the need, the necessity and above all the desire to start a new series at home,” explained the Nice coach at a press conference.

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However, the task promises to be particularly difficult. For what ? Because OGC Nice is completely decimated in the middle of the game, a sector of play where it is used to dominating. Unavailable this Sunday: Youssouf Ndayishimiye (quadriceps relapse), Morgan Sanson (calf injury before the international break), Kephren Thuram and Pablo Rosario (suspended)…the usual starters. “With four midfielders out, we have to find new alternatives. We thought about what we could do and possible scenarios,” said Francesco Farioli.

To find solutions, the Nice staff notably watched certain FC Nantes matches led by Antoine Kombouaré, during his first visit, between February 2021 and May 2023. “We studied the individual qualities of its players a lot. We also analyzed matches from Antoine Kombouaré’s previous experience in Nantes. His team could often change system and structure of play, the Italian technician revealed to journalists. They have so much variety in the characteristics of their players that they can offer a lot of different things.”

Despite their many absences, the Aiglons will be particularly motivated this Sunday. On the one hand, to move up the rankings. And on the other hand, to take their revenge, they who had experienced their first defeat at the Beaujoire stadium, at the beginning of December 2023 (1-0). “We want to win this match, and for many reasons: firstly for the ranking, but if we want to add other motivations, the evening in Nantes was our first defeat of the season and it is a scar that we still have with us. We have this little extra motivation, but we don’t need that to be very motivated,” said Francesco Farioli. Will OGC Nice manage to confirm its success on the Sang et Or pitch before the international break…and therefore get back into the race for the Champions League? Answer this Sunday, in the middle of the afternoon.