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Ligue 2: Strasbourg Closing In On Promotion To Ligue 1

Racing Strasbourg; But; joie during Racing Strasbourg v Ajaccio - Ligue 2 in Strasbourg, France, on April 17, 2017. (Photo by Elyxandro Cegarra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Thierry Laurey is the manager of Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace, a former gaffer at Gazelec Ajaccio. After seeing his old club get dumped to Ligue 2, Laurey was appointed manager of Strasbourg in May 2016. Since then, the club has been building steam and after a dry spell in early March, Strasbourg have been unbeaten since March 11, 2017, winning five of their last six Ligue 2 matches.

Currently, Strasbourg have a record of 17-8-9 (59 points), level with Stade Brestois 29 but possession a superior goal differential (+13 to +11). Strasbourg have the French second division’s best attack, scoring 56 goals this season. RCSA have also won four of their last five matches and have the best form of any team at the moment.

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Moroccan striker Khalid Boutaib is Strasbourg’s top goalscorer with 18 goals on the season. At 21 years of age, young Belgian attacker Baptiste Guillaume, on loan from Lille OSC, has been a reliable finisher for Racing, scoring eight goals in 27 appearances. Also delivering in terms of production are Stephane Bahoke and Jeremy Blayac, who have six goals on the season.

Vincent Nogueira, a former Philadelphia Union player, in action with Strasbourg.

However, arguably the one reason why Strasbourg have been on fire these last several weeks has been the efficient production of Vincent Nogueira. Major League Soccer fans, if you recall, Nogueira was a driving force for the Philadelphia Union but saw limited time in his final season with the club. This season, in 25 appearances for Strasbourg, Nogueira has been relatively healthy, having started 20 matches and provided four assists. It may pale in comparison to Dimitri Lienard‘s nine assists, but his involvement in a number of sequences and his defensive ability could see him return to MLS if the situation arises, as his green card received in February 2016 will make him a domestic player in that competition.

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Nogueira, however, is just one part of a balanced unit that has shown to hit its stride when it matters most. The club’s only real test remaining is on May 4 away to another Racing, Racing Club de Lens, a club that is currently fourth on the table at 15-10-8 (55 points). If Strasbourg can manage this match and the May 12 encounter away to Chamois Niortais (who, if you recall, put on a brave performance in the Coupe de France against Paris Saint-Germain), Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace will be taking home the checkered flag and return to Ligue 1 on wheels of fire.

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