Preview: Nice vs. Angers 

Preview: Nice vs. Angers 

Seeking to snap a somewhat concerning two-game losing run in Ligue 1, podium hopefuls Nice prepare to host Angers at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday lunchtime.

Christophe Galtier’s men went down 2-0 to Lyon in their most recent battle, while Les Scoistes fell to a 1-0 defeat to an over-achieving Strasbourg.

The highs of a five-game winning streak have since turned into the lows of back-to-back defeats for Galtier’s Nice, who have also failed to find the back of the net in either of those losses as Lyon taught them a footballing lesson one week after Clermont’s 1-0 win.

Moussa Dembele’s penalty and Karl Toko Ekambi’s close-range finish propelled Les Gones to a convincing three points over Nice at the Groupama Stadium last Saturday, with Les Aiglons losing ground in the race to stake a claim as the best of the rest.

With any hopes of usurping Paris Saint-Germain in top spot nigh on impossible, Nice were seemingly embroiled in a two-way battle with Marseille for second place but have now fallen four points behind Les Olympiens, while Strasbourg are now just one point worse off than Galtier’s side.

Coupe de France successes over PSG and Marseille have provided a couple of silver linings, but Nice are at risk of dropping out of the Champions League places altogether without an upturn in top-flight fortunes, and the Allianz Riviera has not always been kind to the hosts.

Indeed, defeat to Clermont on February 6 marked a fourth loss from six on home soil for Galtier’s side in Ligue 1, and they have failed to keep a clean sheet at the Allianz Riviera in the league since August, but some may avoid placing bets on Angers extending that clean sheet-less streak.

Angers’ bright start to the new season has been firmly consigned to history, with Gerald Baticle’s side since experiencing a disheartening slump down the rankings, which continued with a 1-0 loss to Strasbourg in gameweek 24.

Veteran striker Kevin Gameiro struck the only goal of the game in some style for Strasbourg in the 11th minute, and while Angers went close through Stephane Bahoken’s deft header, Matz Sels and the Strasbourg backline held firm at the Stade Raymond Kopa.

It is now three league defeats on the bounce for this Angers outfit, who enter the weekend’s contest languishing in 13th in the rankings – eight points clear of the bottom three and adrift of the top five by the same margin – so the business end of the season could go either way for Les Scoistes.

Baticle’s side will likely start to look over their shoulder rather than towards the top half should their slump continue – with only two wins to boast from their last 10 in Ligue 1 – but they can take confidence in the fact that they have scored in all but one of their 12 top-flight away matches this term.

A 2-1 win for Nice at the Stade Raymond Kopa back in October represented a third victory on the bounce for Les Aiglons in this fixture, and Angers have won just one of their last nine in the top flight versus Nice, who need no second invitation to grasp this opportunity to return to winning ways with both hands.

Nice Ligue 1 form:
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Nice form (all competitions):
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Angers Ligue 1 form:
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We say: Nice 2-0 Angers
Angers have developed an affinity for finding the back of the net on the road, but their goalscoring exploits and hopes of victory will be slimmed if Boufal is indeed absent for the contest.

Nice can ill-afford any more dropped points if they are to remain in the driving seat for Champions League qualification, and we have faith in Galtier’s crop to stand firm at the back and claim a morale-boosting three points through their abundance of attacking talent.

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