Saint-Etienne continue their fight to avoid the drop in Ligue 1 when Brest make the journey to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts capitulated in a 6-2 loss to Lorient in gameweek 31, while Michel Der Zakarian’s side managed to hold Breton rivals Nantes to a 1-1 draw.
Saint-Etienne were in cruise control against Lorient as Denis Bouanga and Arnaud Nordin propelled Les Verts into a 2-0 lead before the half-hour mark, but Pascal Dupraz then witnessed his side suffer one of the worst collapses of the Ligue 1 season at the Moustoir.
After pegging it back to 2-2 before the half-time whistle blew, Lorient carved their way through the Saint-Etienne defence at will and struck four more times after the break to hand Les Verts an embarrassing 6-2 loss, with Yvan Neyou’s red card only six minutes after his introduction rubbing salt into the wounds.
Dupraz took responsibility for the “catastrophe” that befell his side versus their relegation rivals, with that thrashing meaning that Saint-Etienne remain in the relegation playoff spot but are only one point adrift of Clermont in 17th place with seven matches to go.
The Dupraz revolution has at least given Saint-Etienne a fighting chance of salvaging their Ligue 1 status for 2021-22, but it is now four games without a win for the 18th-placed side, who have shipped 10 goals in their last two losses to Lorient and Marseille and boast the worst home defensive record in the division with 31 goals conceded.
Saint-Etienne had strung a four-game unbeaten streak together at home before going down 4-2 to Marseille earlier this month, though, and they have scored in all of their Ligue 1 games at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard since the turn of the year, so survival is certainly not an unrealistic prospect – especially with one of Clermont or Metz guaranteed to drop points in their basement battle later this weekend.
Brest coach Michel Der Zakarian on March 13, 2022© Reuters
Brest are not quite mathematically safe from the drop just yet, but Michel Der Zakarian’s side are on the verge of securing their top-flight status for yet another season after coming from behind to rescue a point against Brittany rivals Nantes on their own turf.
It took all of 10 minutes for Randal Kolo Muani to put Nantes ahead with a deft flick from Quentin Merlin’s cross, but skipper Brendan Chardonnet was in the right place at the right time to smash home following a goalmouth scramble from a corner in the second period.
Les Pirates are now as close to the European places as they are to the relegation zone, with a 12-point chasm separating them from their upcoming opponents as they appropriately lie 12th in the rankings – a good seven points off a potential top-half place, though.
Brest are very nearly home and dry after a wholly inconsistent first season under the guidance of Der Zakarian, whose side have only prevailed in two of their last seven games away from home and have kept just one league clean sheet on the road all-season long.
Recent history does not favour the relegation-threatened hosts ahead of this battle, with Brest winning four on the bounce against Saint-Etienne after a 1-0 home victory back in December, although the match-winner on that day – Romain Faivre – has since moved onto bigger and better things with Lyon.