By Eskender Tamrat

When: 2:00PM EST, Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Where: Stade Michel d'Ornano, Caen, Normandie, France

Betting Line: OFF

TV Coverage: beIN Sports

 

Stade Malherbe Caen (9-6-18) will host tenth-placed FC Nantes (11-9-13) on Sunday. Caen secured a hard-fought 2-2 draw against FC Metz (9-9-14) in the previous round, which kept them two points clear of the relegation play-offs place. Nantes suffered defeat for the first time since early March, as they narrowly lost at home to FC Girondins de Bordeaux (14-10-9).

Nantes won the reverse fixture courtesy of a header from their top scorer Emiliano Sala in January this year. Both teams won five times each in head-to-head fixtures in Caen, while four matches ended in draws.

Players like Romain Genevois, Steed Malbranque and Hervé Bazile are on the sidelines from Caen, whereas Nantes doesn't have any major injury concerns for Sunday's trip.

Nantes

Nantes gave a good account of themselves against Bordeaux but ended up on the losing side with Younousse Sankharé scoring the only goal of the game after the hour mark. With every week passing, Nantes fans filled with more promises for the next season seeing the side's improvements under Sergio Conceição.

The former Portugal international was at four modest Portuguese clubs in his first four years of managerial career before Nantes came calling after sacking René Girard, a manager who famously led Montpellier to their first-ever league title in 2011-12. Conceição took the job with Nantes rooting for relegation – one place higher than the foot of the table – but he had an ideal start to his reign with four consecutive wins to flirt with the top half of the standings.

Caen

Caen prevented a fourth loss in a row with Ronny Rodelin heading home a late equalizer to snatch a draw from an entertaining encounter against Metz, who have not been clear of the danger zone themselves. Patrice Garande will be delighted with the effort of his side, as the solitary point helped them in the bid for survival because of events unfolding in the other fixtures.

They will face Paris Saint-Germain (23-5-4) in the final matchday, and there would be additional fixtures against mid-table sides Stade Rennais F.C. (10-13-10) and Toulouse FC (10-11-12) left in the calendar. Provided SC Bastia (6-10-16) will not stand a chance now they are on the verge of a severe ban following the crowd trouble against Olympique Lyonnais (17-3-12), Caen will most likely fight it out with AS Nancy (8-7-18), FC Lorient (9-4-20) and Dijon FCO (6-11-16) – four points separates the four sides – to be one of the two teams to finish outside the bottom three.

Key Stats

1. Before this campaign, the last four head-to-head fixtures between Nantes and Caen ended with wins for the away side.

2. After starting 2017 with ten points from four games, Caen could only muster half of that in the last ten games.

3. Both teams are among the seven clubs who are yet to score from a direct free-kick in Ligue 1 this season.

The Pick

In terms of relevance, the two teams will certainly be in different mindsets. Although being in a relaxed state could help in occasions, one should not expect Nantes to play with same determination and passion as relegation-threatened Caen.

Caen 1, Nantes 0

Ligue 1 , soccer , Caen , Nantes