SM Caen welcome Girondins de Bordeaux to the Stade Michel d’Ornano on Friday hopeful of extending their five-year stay in Ligue 1 Conforama.
SM Caen – Girondins de Bordeaux
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It has been a difficult campaign for Fabien Mercadal’s men, with the Normandy club occupying one of the bottom three places in the league uninterrupted since Week 24.
The disappointment in losing to UEFA Champions League-chasing Olympique Lyonnais last Saturday speaks much to Caen’s recent resurgence, though, Malherbe having picked up 10 of a possible 12 previous points to come into the final day with their fate in their own hands.
‘A final’ – Mercadal
“We were hoping for a result but we always knew we’d have a final against Bordeaux next week,” said Mercadal of the 4-0 reversal at the Groupama Stadium. “Our destiny will be decided in that game so we have to play well and make sure we’re prepared for the play-offs.”
Watch: Highlights of Caen’s 4-0 loss to Lyon
Caen may not even have to negotiate the relegation play-off should they beat Bordeaux while Amiens SC lose to EA Guingamp, although defeat for Caen paired with a victory for Dijon FCO against Toulouse could also send them straight down.
Final indeed, and one for which Mercadal would be forgiven for dipping into his youth academy for. Caen’s U19s finished as the second strongest team in France in their age group on Monday, beating Paris FC 3-2.
Evens Joseph has been blooded this term, but the 19-year-old striker may only make the bench at best, despite the first-team top scorers being Enzo Crivelli and Casimir Ninga on just six goals apiece.
Further back, midfielder Ismaël Diomandé is struggling with a calf strain, while centre-back Romain Genevois has a knock. The latter’s importance has diminished this season, though, and Mercadal has a mostly full-strength squad to call upon.
Caen are further boosted by their good recent record against Bordeaux. The Normandy club held Les Girondins to a 0-0 draw in November’s reverse fixture, and won their two meetings before that, with their last defeat to Friday’s opponents back in February 2017.
Watch: Highlights of Bordeaux’s 1-0 loss to Reims
Bordeaux, their own survival assured despite losing each of their last six games, are already looking ahead to next season, meanwhile, with coach Paulo Sousa already stating that he wants a “smaller, more homogenous group.”
The Portuguese won’t have Jaroslav Plasil to call upon next season. The former Czech Republic midfielder – who scored in Bordeaux’s 4-0 win over Caen two seasons ago – bid the home fans farewell in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Stade de Reims at the Matmut Atlantique.
“We’ve not won in a while,” said Sousa at his post-match press conference. “I’m disappointed with the result but not surprised. We’re working with the staff to improve our mentality and way of playing. The owner believes we can do something different but we need time to change things. ”
Plasil, 37, could pull the strings in midfield one final time then, most likely behind attackers Jimmy Briand and François Kamano. Sousa’s hand is somewhat forced regardless of form, with Nicolas de Préville (knock), Andrew Cornelius (groin) and Josh Maja (LCL knee ligament) all missing.
Caen: Samba; Guilbert, Gradit, Djiku, Imorou; Oniangué, Fajr; Deminguet, Khaoui, Ninga; Crivelli
Bordeaux: Costil; Sabaly, Koundé, Pablo, Poundjé; Plasil, Otavio; Adli, Basic, Kamano; Briand
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