Rovers Will Face a Tough Nancy
AS Nancy Lorraine is a fairly recent addition to French football having been founded in 1967. They do not have a great history of success either. However, it would appear their reputation is growing with every game this season.
It is only their second season back in Lique 1, the top French division, having earned promotion due to winning Lique 2 in 2005. They currently sit in third spot and they deserve it. Manager, Pablo Correa, has built this season`s success on defence. In 13 fixtures they have only conceded eight goals.
Their games are notoriously tight fixtures. As well as only conceding eight goals they have only scored 13 in all competitions.
They qualified for this season`s UEFA Cup by winning the Coupe de la Ligue, the French League Cup last season.
Nancy have become familiar with English settings which will no doubt aid their preparations for the match at Ewood Park. They played both Birmingham and Hull during pre-season. Both games finished 1-1. Perhaps Mark Hughes will contact ex-Rovers like David Dunn for some information.
Nancy, despite their, short history have been graced by one of the greatest French footballers of all time. Michel Platini played for the club from 1973 until 1979 during which time they won one of their four Lique 2 titles and their only French Cup success in 1978.
Irish hero, Tony Cascarino also played for the club from 1997-2000. Another familiar name on British shores, Mustapha Hadji, formerly of Coventry City and Aston Villa, also represented Nancy.
So how does their current squad measure up and what can we expect from France`s most improved side?
Well their squad doesn`t boast any outstanding names that are recognised on an international stage. They have a predominantly French squad with the added flair of three Brazilians and three Uruguay`s, one of which, Gaston Cuerbelo, is the joint top-goalscorer with three goals. He generally leads the line in a 5-3-2 formation.
He is supported by 25 year old Monsef Zerka in attack with the explosive talent of Benjamin Gavanon, who also has three goals this season arriving from midfield.
Gavanon is perhaps the brightest talent along with defender Michael Chretien. Gavanon recently came second in the French player of the month and has experience of playing in England due to a loan spell with Nottingham Forest in the 2002-2003 season. He arrived at the City Ground in January 2003 but failed to break into the first team.
Nancy have a lot of tough and resolute players in their ranks, exemplified by their tight defence, but also through their poor discipline. Already this season they have had four players sent off in all competitions.
This should make for an interesting clash when considering Rovers` notorious discipline record. Pape Diakhate is a particularly imposing figure at the back, often cautioned by the referee.
The fact that Nancy are playing away will be of huge benefit for Rovers as they are yet to win a game on the road and have only managed to produce two away goals. They are at their most dangerous when at home in the Stade Marcel Picot.
When they play away they look to stifle the opposition with defensive and negative tactics. They will no doubt come to Ewood Park with a packed defence and robust midfield aiming to starve Rovers of any creativity. They may not have won away from home but they have taken points from three fixtures and held top clubs like Lyon to close games.
In fact their last match was away at Lyon and they surprisingly played three up-front. It has been described as a keenly fought contest and Nancy were never out of the game.
John William`s described Wisla Krakow as the dark horses of this group but it would that Nancy won`t be a push-over. Erwin Koeman, the Feyenoord coach, certainly felt this when the draw was made. He singled out Nancy as the chief threat in the group.
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