Integration of players who have arrived in the transfer window, new game projects, changes of coaches… While the French championship resumes its rights on Friday evening and the off-season has been pretty much everywhere hectic, the time has come for the first clearance of certain curiosities .
Will Alexandre Lacazette save Peter Bosz?
Back on the banks of the Rhône after five years in London, the French international striker should be an essential bolt in Peter Bosz’s year 2 on the OL bench. Freshly named captain, Lacazette was quick to take on his responsibilities in the game during the preparation, in particular by quickly becoming the leader of his clan’s pressing thanks to races from outside to inside having aims to cut the relationship between the central defenders and the opposing goalkeeper. If he continues to lead the dance without the ball, the Lyon number 91, more active and smarter than Moussa Dembélé in this register, may finally manage to make the idea of a high and intense pressing so long hoped for by Bosz sustainable. and so little seen last season (OL were, for example, only the sixth Ligue 1 team in the number of pressures exerted in the last opposing third per game).
Still, beyond his precious activity without the ball, Alexandre Lacazette will also be expected with. Scorer four times in four preparation matches, the General already seems to have taken his place as if he had never left it. More than his statistical contribution, it is his influence at the forefront of the attack which should relieve the environment around him. Always available, very fair in his one-touch deliveries, useful for keeping the ball with his back to goal, the Guadeloupean seems to be the missing piece of a team that appreciates speed and play in support, starting with the elements inevitably brought towards the axis that are the false foot wingers Toko Ekambi and Head. Passing by Wednesday afternoon at a press conference, he did not say anything else: “Today, I have less of this obsession with the goal. I’m more collective, I try to direct a little more, to lead my teammates. Afterwards, I’ve never been selfish, I’ve only ever thought of myself, and if I don’t score and in the end, we go to the Champions League, that’s fine with me. » Lucas Paquetá, he already seems close to his new captain, on and off the pitch, and is certainly not going to spit on a privileged relay a notch higher either. First answers Friday evening, against Ajaccio.
Wanted by Castello Lukeba, Lacazette deviates from the head towards Head, right side…
… in the process, Head enters left foot and finds Lacazette in front of the surface of Inter. The Frenchman temporizes, lets Paquetá dive on the right side and voluntarily attracts several opponents on his back…
… four Inter players try to lock up the OL striker, who resists and can shift Paquetá, before plunging into the box…
… and to be able to open the scoring with a header.
Igor Tudor in the Marseille storm
While a meeting was held on Tuesday at the Robert Louis-Dreyfus center in Marseille between Pablo Longoria, Igor Tudor and the Marseille workforce to ease emerging tensions, the Croatian coach already seems under pressure. If the human management of the technician seems problematic, his sports management could quickly be just as much, because if the intentions without the ball seemed to be the keystone of his Hellas Verona, which notably had the fourth PPDA – opposing passes allowed by defensive action in the opposing camp – the weakest in Serie A last season, they are now OM’s weak point. So far, the very high, aggressive and suffocating pressing announced seems to have remained blocked on the other side of the Alps and if we guess this will on a few sequences, many things are still missing to obtain a defensive animation homogeneous and efficient. For the moment, Marseille’s pressing lacks intensity and uniformity, which opens up avenues for opponents. With the ball, shortcomings also exist, residing this time more in the quality of the workforce and the choice of players. In addition to not displaying the slightest mechanical diagram at the restart, the 3-4-3 of the new OM does not have players sufficiently comfortable with the ball to take charge of it individually. Added to this is the problem of profiles for certain decisive players of the last exercise (Gerson, Payet, Ünder or Dieng), who find themselves installed in uncomfortable positions or on the bench. Facing the brothel, Pablo Longoria was forced to (already) take out the fire extinguisher: “After a radical change, it necessarily takes time to adapt. If an athlete runs the 100m, you are not going to ask him overnight to run the 1500m. It will go to 400, then to 800… (…) We take a path and we adapt. We are not going to judge the real OM of Igor Tudor in September. It’s a process. It would be a little naive to think of arriving so quickly. » As crazy as it may seem: with a win, a draw and three defeats in preparation, Tudor already seems to be playing part of its credit with the supporters on Sunday, against Reims.
Against Milan, OM cracked on two similar sequences, born of difficulties in pressing on the sides. Here, Clauss goes out at the wrong time on Théo Hernandez, gives him time to control…
… and to take an opening from the outside towards Olivier Giroud, located a notch higher. At the end, Milan will open the scoring.
A quarter of an hour later, another side: this time, it is Guendouzi’s turn to be behind Calabria, while Balerdi and Kolasinac will initially go out simultaneously on Brahim Diaz, before the Argentinian does not warn its piston to move back to cover Messias. Too late: the Brazilian will use his lead time to find Giroud and it will be 0-2 for Milan.
What should we expect from the Paulo Fonseca project at LOSC?
After a disappointing season in terms of content and results, the Lille leaders therefore opted for the Paulo Fonseca solution to succeed Jocelyn Gourvennec. With their new boss, the Mastiffs completed their training camp in Spain with a victory, a draw and a defeat, showing some innovative principles in passing. Profiles dear to his previous game projects, whether at Shakhtar or Roma, the Portuguese has already found interior wingers in the North, in particular one: Jonathan Bamba, who we have seen regularly come to position himself at the interior on his left side, thus approaching number 10 of 4-2-3-1, which could quickly be Ludovic Blas, while opening the corridor to his side. If this animation was symmetrical in his previous teams, this time it seems more asymmetrical given the right side profile of Edon Zhegrova, a player very attached to his sideline.
Example of Bamba’s interior role against Cadiz: Lille’s number 7 thus offers an interior relay, frees up his lane and allows LOSC to move quickly between the lines.
Regarding the recovery, Paulo Fonseca may be a follower of ground outings, he is also aware that the long game can be a formidable weapon. It is therefore not uncommon to see his teams extend when the game requires it and we have already seen it during Jonathan David’s recent double against Dunkirk, at the beginning of July. Without the ball, it’s hard to see what precisely this LOSC will become as the preparation can be nuanced by the physical forms of the different elements and by the adversity encountered. However, the Portuguese coach has a habit of asking a lot of work from his eccentric attackers in the hallway to lock in his opponents against the touchline. To be continued this weekend, against Auxerre.
Paris: finally the time of the MNM?
If the large and convincing victory in the Trophée des Champions against FC Nantes (4-0) dispelled the first doubts concerning the PSG of Christophe Galtier, a question remains despite everything: how to make Mbappé, Neymar and Messi coexist effectively? If the last two were excellent in Tel Aviv, the absence of the French striker still leaves room for imagination. Today, Galtier’s number 1 priority is to take full advantage of the Neymar-Messi connection – and therefore not to distance them too much – while putting Kylian Mbappé in ideal conditions. Lucky coincidence, one of the benchmark performances of the Parisian trio was probably the 45 minutes delivered against FC Nantes, in November 2021, in an offensive structure quite similar to that seen on Sunday. During the first 90 minutes of the season, Pablo Sarabia, who replaced Mbappé numerically, thus often played between the right half-space and the axis, leaving the corridor to Achraf Hakimi while being close to the axis and Messi to combine or give him space by triggering a call to roll back the opposing defensive line. The idea of including the Bondy native in this situation seems more than appealing. He would then be close to the Argentinian to combine or take advantage of his foot in space, formidable in the back when Messi picks up, facing Neymar’s right foot when the latter faces the game and in the same area as Hakimi , his great friend. It remains to be seen whether Kylian Mbappé will accept this role which requires certain concessions. In the first place, he will certainly have to avoid dropping out so as not to overload a midfielder who seems to have found his balance with Vitinha as a compensator for Neymar and Messi in order to fix the opposing centrals to keep a threat behind the two South Americans… First sketch of this painting on Saturday evening, in Clermont.
November 2021: against Nantes, Neymar wins as usual, Mbappé follows him to combine while Messi occupies the right half space. From this position, the Brazilian can then connect with the Argentinian while taking advantage of the movements of the French striker or those of Hakimi, free on the opposite.
August 2022: In PSG’s version of Galtier, Neymar also often stumbled to the ball, was able to connect between the lines with Messi as the attacking third – here Sarabia – plays deep and clears the lane for Hakimi.
Following the sale of Nayef Aguerd to West Ham, Florian Maurice had to activate to offer a new left axial to Bruno Genesio. After the soap operas Kim Min Jae and Morato, the sports director of the Bretons finally leaned on Arthur Theate, the Belgian international from Bologna. Nevertheless, several characteristics are necessary to occupy the position of central defender at Stade Rennais.
First mission: he must ensure the revival of a team that relies mainly on the feet of its defenders to progress. And last season, Theate was:
– in the top 10% of central defenders in Serie A who made the most passes to the last third of the field.
– in the top 10% in terms of successful dribbles.
– in the top 9% in number of rides with the ball.
The Belgian therefore seems to have the required qualities and personality in possession.
Defensively, then, the 22-year-old defender seems more comfortable defending standing up, only very rarely tackling despite a certain aggressiveness. He is in the 9% of central defenders in Serie A who made the most pressure in the offensive zone last season. Arthur Theate was able to benefit from a Bolognese team capable, like him, of defending while advancing. A situation that he could find on the side of Ille-et-Vilaine, despite a change of system, going from a defense at 3 to a defense at 4. Decisive after seven minutes of play in the Rennes jersey following a winning recovery from a corner against Aston Villa, the left-hander has also already been able to show his quality on the set pieces to start his Breton adventure in the best possible way. Promise to be confirmed.
Sequence illustrating the qualities of Theate, in preparation with Bologna against AZ: we see him here serving Lykogiannis, his piston…
… then move inside to offer a solution to his partner behind the back of the opposing attacker…
… before finding its other piston on the opposite side.
By Matthias Ribeiro