Preview: Lorient vs. Saint-Etienne

Preview: Lorient vs. Saint-Etienne

Lorient will welcome Saint-Etienne to the Stade du Moustoir for their crucial Ligue 1 relegation battle on Friday night.

Both sides head into this contest off the back of heavy defeats against the league’s top two sides last weekend, with Lorient conceding five against Paris Saint-Germain, while Saint-Etienne let in four against Marseille.

Lorient suffered their heaviest Ligue 1 defeat for over five years when they were beaten 5-1 away at league leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Terem Moffi got his name on the scoresheet in the 56th minute to pull one back for the visitors, after strikes from Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had put the hosts two goals in front before the break, but the latter two both scored again either side of a Lionel Messi strike to condemn Les Merlus to their 14th league defeat of the season.

Christophe Pelissier’s side still remain in a precarious position in the Ligue 1 standings, currently hovering just one point above the bottom three with eight games remaining.

While Lorient were not expected to cause an upset at the Parc des Princes, they will fancy their chances of success on Friday against fellow strugglers Saint-Etienne. Encounters with basement club Bordeaux, Metz and Troyes will also be viewed as winnable games as they head into the final stretch.

Les Merlus have won more Ligue 1 games on home soil against Saint-Etienne than any other team in the division, coming out on top in seven of their 12 meetings at the Stade du Moustoir. However, in this season’s top flight, Lorient have accumulated the fewest points against teams currently in the bottom half of the table (11).

Pelissier’s men have also won only one of their last 11 league matches at home, winning 2-0 against Lens in February, so they will need to be on top of their game if they are to claim maximum points on Friday.

After claiming five points from three league matches in March, Saint-Etienne began the month of April with a 4-2 home defeat against Marseille.

Denis Bouanga was gifted the opener in the ninth minute when his strike was fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Pau Lopez, but Marseille restored parity when Dimitri Payet converted from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.

The visitors then took control of proceedings in the second half, with an own goal from Timothee Kolodziejczak, a penalty kick from Bamba Dieng and a strike from Amine Harit putting the game to bed. 18-year-old Lucas Gourna-Douath pulled one back for Les Verts with his first senior goal in the 86th minute, but it was only a consolation goal for the hosts, who suffered their 15th defeat of the season.

With the other four teams around them at the bottom of the Ligue 1 table also failing to win last weekend, Pascal Dupraz’s men remain in 18th place, four points above Metz in the bottom two and one point behind both Clermont and Friday’s opponents Lorient in the two positions above them.

Saint-Etienne head into Friday’s contest having won only one of their last six Ligue 1 away games. Les Verts have also lost their last two encounters at the Stade du Moustoir, losing both by a 2-1 scoreline.

Dupraz’s side played out a 1-1 draw against Les Merlus in the reverse fixture back in August, but they will be hoping to improve in the final third this time around, after seeing only three of their 20 shots on goal hit the target in that game.

Lorient Ligue 1 form:
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Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
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We say: Lorient 1-1 Saint-Etienne
While both Lorient and Saint-Etienne will view Friday’s contest as a must-not-lose fixture, victory for either side here would provide a major boost in their quest to avoid relegation.

Goals could on the cards considering two of the weakest defensive sides will be on show at the Stade du Moustoir, but with little to separate them, they may be forced to share the spoils.

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