Sunderland loanee back to help save Bastia from trouble

After serving a one-game suspension, El-Hadji Ba is back to star in the Bastia midfield. His side are 18th in Ligue 1 after an inconsistent start.

Their opening day draw at home to Marseille was supposed spark Bastia and new boss Claude Makelele to a positive season, but with one win in six it has been far from ideal. On Wednesday night, Bastia welcomes back Sunderland loanee El-Hadji Ba from suspension for the game against Nantes, where nothing but a win will do.

For Bastia to perform well this season they needed to turn the Stade Armand-Cesari into a fortress, but two draws and a win, although unbeaten is far from a hostile environment.

On a season-long loan deal from Sunderland, Ba has started four of Bastia’s first six games, missing the opening day of the season and the last game against Metz due to suspension.

His performances have been fairly impressive; the only game Bastia has lost with Ba in the midfield was the 2-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.

Claude Makelele has stuck with playing 4-2-3-1 this season and Ba has made his place as one of the two central midfielders, playing beside former Anderlecht veteran, Guillaume Gillet.

Ba adds an athletic defensive protection to the Bastia midfield. No one has made more successful tackles in this side than Ba, nearly five per game. Both he and Gillet take turns pushing the midfield forward and they have been the most consistent part of Bastia’s performances this season.

Makelele will be happy to have the 21-year-old back in his side for the visit of Nantes. They are currently 18th in the division with only six points, it’s not as desperate as it sounds as they are only two points off ninth position and a win on Wednesday night would see them close within one of their opponents.

Bastia certainly missed the midfielder on Saturday, losing 3-1 to Metz away from home. They lost the midfield battle and Nantes will be no pushovers. Ba will need to put in an impressive performance if he is to help turnaround his side’s struggles.

Sunderland fans will be interested to see if Ba can turnaround Bastia’s fate, a positive season for the former Le Havre youngster, could see him return to the Stadium of Light next season.

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