Ajaccio won promotion to Ligue 1 last season as the runners up in Ligue 2. They came through something of a dogfight to finish second and proved themselves to be a gritty and mentally tough team. What they weren’t, though, is spectacular. They scored only 39 goals in 38 games but conceded only 19 – by far the lowest in the league.
There are few signs that their approach will change over the course of the campaign ahead. So far, the only attacking signings that have been made are veteran forward Romain Hamouma from Saint-Etienne and utility forward Kevin Spadanuda from Aarau – the Swiss second tier, in which he scored 18 times and created six goals last season. Meanwhile, hard-nosed midfielder Thomas Mangani, another veteran, has arrived from Angers and completing a trio of 30+ signings is Mickael Alphonse.
Naturally, the focus of the team will be defensive. Benjamin Leroy will be the starter in goal, while the rearguard is packed with experienced players, although it is likely that Oumar Gonzalez and Clement Vidal, who has made a loan from Montpellier permanent, will provide a relatively youthful combination in the centre. Look for the older players to come in if they are struggling.
Qazim Laci will be the key player in the midfield and will likely be paired with Mangani, although the arrival of an additional player in that sector could hint at a plan to move to a more compact formation. They have stuck by their 4-4-2 in pre-season games, though.
In attack, there is little to get excited about in terms of scoring power. Hamouma is coming off a bad season at Saint-Etienne but is likely to have a big role to play, while Spadanuda is likely to have to contribute significantly. Riad Nouri, meanwhile, was top scorer last season with nine in all competitions while veteran attacker Gaetan Courtet got seven in 35 games (he has 11 in 74 in Ligue 1). Without a player likely to get 10 goals in all competitions, it promises to be a long campaign.