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League leaders value to crush resurgent hosts; FOOTBALL.

SEVEN straight defeats at the end of last season sealed Valenciennes' relegation from Ligue 1 and they have struggled to turn around their fortunes this term in the second tier of French football, writes James Milton.

The club's financial problems compounded the sporting disappointment of relegation and Valenciennes won only three of their first 12 matches in Ligue 2. Their form has picked up in the last couple of weeks with narrow victories over Angers (1-0) and Arles-Avignon (2-1) but tonight they face a far more difficult fixture.

League leaders Brest face a long trip from the western tip of Brittany to Valenciennes, hard by the Belgian border, but they should be full of confidence after an excellent start to the season.

The Breton side finished the 2013-14 campaign in terrific form, winning 11 of their last 16 league matches to finish in seventh place.

Only champions Metz had a better defensive record last term than Brest, who conceded just 32 goals in 38 league matches and have been even tougher to breach this season.

Their defensive stats are superb - ten clean sheets in 14 league matches, with just five goals conceded all season - and their attacking players have also started to fire in recent games.

Four of Brest's first eight matches of the season ended goalless but since the start of October they have scored 11 goals in five league games, winning four of them and drawing the other 2-2 at Laval.

They thrashed Auxerre, who are two points better off than Valenciennes, 3-0 in their last away game in the league and put five past Grace in the French Cup last weekend.

Former FC Zurich striker Alexandre Alphonse has been in sparkling form with five goals in his last eight appearances and he and his Brest team-mates have the quality to put an end to Valenciennes' mini-revival.

Recommendation Brest 1pt 7-4 bet365

CAPTION(S):

Ex-Liverpool man Anthony Le Tallec is now at Valenciennes

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2014
Words:325
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