Le Gym slip at the final hurdle

Nantes 1-0 Nice

October 5, 2019

Le Gym slip at the final hurdle

Dominated over the course of the game, OGC Nice fell to defeat at Nantes on Saturday during Matchday 9 of L1 (1-0).

The features of the game

For most of the game, the feeling that Les Aiglons were going to take home a point thanks to the oldest trick in the book - solidity and combat - filled the air of the Stade de la Beaujoire. On this extremely autumnal Saturday, that feeling fell away with just four minutes of normal time to play, but it has to be said that this wasn’t entirely undeserved. At the Beaujoire, Le Gym didn’t put in their most convincing performance, as they were held back by the Nantes press and the home side began to dominate the encounter. But football showed its cruel side, and at the very moment that Les Rouge et Noir thought they had held onto their point and Coach Vieira tried to get all three, they were caught out by a header from an excellent Simon, who was perfectly set up by Bamba (1-0, 86').

Before that, Le Gym struggled to develop its usual style. The exchanges mostly took place in the heart of the game, where the triangle from the Côte and the Nantes midfield cancelled each other out. The deepest of the Nice three (Cyprien) was regularly forced to run behind the very advanced forward-most member of the Canaris’ midfield (Benavento), or was put under pressure by his pressing.

Over and beyond the proceedings in midfield, the two sides entered a tactical battle. Nice, relied upon an extremely rigorous defensive quartet, boosted by the return of Dante, that tried to play out from the back, but had the bulk of their possession deep in their own half. 

Nice struggled to find its “game makers” and couldn’t create danger when switching from one side to another. This was the case with Atal’s early strike, which lacked power, after a superb cross-field pass from Dante (3’); or from Claude-Maurice and Lees-Melou’s one-two, that was concluded with a strike along the ground by ACM, but this too was easily dealt with by Lafont (36').

Up against them, FCN and its 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-2) defended on the front foot, across the whole of the pitch, which is always a sight to behold. They equally negated Le Gym’s high line, destroying the connection between the midfield and Dolberg, and doubling up on Claude-Maurice and Atal. This tactic suffocated the ideas of the Nice team. But in the first half, apart from a couple of half chances (off-target efforts from Touré and Blas), the Nice back four were only really troubled on one occasion: a header from Coulibaly, after he was perfectly set up by the lively Simon, but Benitez showed what his is made of and quickly got down to snuff out the danger (28’).

At the break, one question rang out throughout the stadium: would the home side have the legs to continue to defend in the same way for the whole 90 minutes?

The answer, unfortunately, was yes they could. Le Gym was blocked in its own half by layers of yellow lines that didn’t allow them to breathe. As the minutes went by, it got more and more difficult, but the the experienced heads of Benitez and Dante were there to save the day. The first of the two made save after save: from a deep ball in for Benavente, he came out quickly (59’): then showed his quality once more to deny Simon on two occasions (60', 63'). 

The second of the two cleared a cross from Simon, that was destined for Coulibaly (68'), and although Lafont punched away a cross from Atal (71'), you got the feeling, that a point would be a good one for the visitors. 

A header in the final moments of the game destroyed these hopes and brought a complicated evening to a close. 

Patrick Vieira’s choices

On Matchday 9, Coach Vieira maintained his confidence in his go-to system for the season: the 4-3-3. 

Two changes were made to the side that started against Lille. The two changes concerned the defensive line. After injuring his ankle against Marseille (Matchday 3, 1-2), Dante returned to the heart of the defence, armband proudly worn, as he took his place alongside Pelmard through the middle. 

Sarr started on the left wing - which had been occupied by Coly against Les Dogues - and Burner started on the right of a defence that contained three academy graduates. Benitez was in goal. 

In front of this, Patrick Vieira stuck with the trio of Lusamba - Cyprien - Lees-Melou in midfield.

Atal, Dolberg and Claude-Maurice made up the attacking trio. 

After 60 minutes, Ganago replaced Dolberg at the top of the attack.

Then Danilo came on to replace Lusamba with 20 minutes to go. 

Finally, Cyprien made way for Myziane and Le Gym switched to a 4-2-3-1 for the final ten minutes of the game.

The 11 that ended the match: Benitez - Burner, Pelmard, Dante (cap), Sarr - Danilo, Lees-Melou - Atal, Claude-Maurice, Myziane - Ganago.

The results from Matchday 9


eague table  


Photos: J-M.P. and IconSport

Nantes, Stade de la Beaujoire,
FC Nantes 1-0 OGC Nice (0-0 at half-time

Matchday 9 of L1 - 05/10/2019

Approximately 20 000 spectators

Referee: Amaury Delerue

Goals: Moses (86') for Nantes

Yellow cards: Girotto (77') for Nantes : Burner (90'), Atal (90+1') for Nice.

FC Nantes : Lafont - Appiah, Girotto, Pallois, Fabio - Touré (cap), Abeid - Blas (Bamba 73'), Benavente (Louza 64'), Simon (Mououssamy 90') - Coulibaly.

OGC Nice : Benitez - Burner, Pelmard, Dante (cap), Sarr - Lusamba (Danilo 72'), Cyprien (Myziane 80'), Lees-Melou - Atal, Dolberg (Ganago 64'), Claude-Maurice.