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“Faced with Montpellier (3-1 victory), ASSE went on to Ligue 1 with a very good match. We saw a very good reaction from the Greens after a first goal quickly conceded against the run of play (11th). Perhaps Pascal Dupraz should have corrected his system more quickly but we are not going to be choosy or give lessons to the coach. The Stéphanois imposed themselves with the manner and in an atmosphere that must be underlined even if there were only 20,000 supporters at Geoffroy-Guichard.

Of course, the defensive deficiencies are still there. Saint-Etienne took another goal on the first opposing chance… But in the head and on the field, there was a real reaction. Paid coaching too. I am happy to see that Romain Hamouma was the detonator when he returned to the field. We should also note the sensational entry of Arnaud Nordin, the contribution of a Wahbi Khazri who missed during the CAN. The owners responded present. Now we can only hope that an Enzo Crivelli, when he is recovered, will act as a pivot and create spaces for the players around him.

“What I want above all is to no longer see a three-man defense”

Facing MHSC, we witnessed the debut of Falaye Sacko and Eliaquim Mangala in a new three-man defense. I’m less and less a fan of the system and the goal conceded, with a superiority of two Montpellier players in front of Bernardoni’s goal, proves that it’s not necessarily a plus to solidify the base… Individually, the two showed anyway they could bring. Whether on defensive serenity or on experience. It’s still easier to work in a dynamic of victories.

I heard Pascal Dupraz talk about his 4-4-2 project with the Khazri – Crivelli duo. 4-4-2 why not? With the mobility of a Khazri or the weight of a Crivelli, it can work. But I do not condemn Romain Hamouma or Arnaud Nordin. Especially given what they brought against Montpellier. Adil Aouchiche also still has his small role to play. I was sometimes very strict with him because he did not always bring what he had to. In the Montpellier match, more in the shadows, it was important at the start of the actions… It would be a mistake to completely trap yourself in a system. Personally, what I want is above all to no longer see a three-man defense. But that’s just my opinion…

“In Clermont, a knife match, a test match”

Finally, I would mention the accounting aspect. Two wins in a row is good. That doesn’t mean you have to get fired up. As it was not necessary to be alarmist when Saint-Etienne had points behind. Even with these players and the quality of this team, we must not think that it is impossible to go down to the second division. Many dove in thinking the same thing. It is up to the Greens to remain vigilant and lucid. Even if it remains anecdotal at this stage of the season, the ranking reminds us of the harsh reality: with the victories of Clermont and Lorient, ASSE is still at the bottom.

Next Sunday, in Auvergne, against Clermont who also have two consecutive victories (Rennes and Nice), we will have to be at least as involved as against Montpellier. It will be another knife match, a test match. Today, Saint-Etienne has picked up the points and the next turn can allow us to switch…”

The ASSE column by Denis Balbir

Denis Balbir looks back on the stunning success of the Greens on his lawn against Montpellier (3-1). If ASSE remains the red lantern in Ligue 1, the delay has now been made up with the teams fighting to maintain it. Good news.

Alexandre Corboz