FC Nantes – Match Report vs AS Saint-Étienne 10/11/19

In what was an eventful affair, Saint-Etienne came from behind twice to run out 3-2 winners at the final whistle. Despite having 61% possession and scoring two well taken first half goals, Nantes slipped to defeat thanks to their inability to defend crosses and then a deflected shot in the second period. Saint-Etienne lacked creativity in central areas when playing out from the back, but their attacking midfielders were effective in the half spaces at times and they were able to commit numbers to the penalty area when the ball was in wide areas from where they delivered some quality crosses.

Nantes set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which looked to utilise the physical Kalifa Coulibaly as a focal point with the likes of Simon, Benavente and Blas providing support. Their main creative outlets were Louza from central midfield, Blas from the right wing and Benavente in the number 10 role and they tried to ensure that these players saw a lot of the ball. Nantes displayed good movement and creativity for both of their goals and on the whole used their possession effectively. Cristian Gourcuff will probably have felt hard done by with the final result of a match in which his side looked dangerous at stages.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Imran Louza

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French / Moroccan
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 01/05/1999
  • Current Club: Nantes
  • Career: Nantes
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Secondary Position: 10 / Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Imran Louza was Nantes’ playmaker in this match, showing great levels of creativity and playing an essential role for his team. Lining up alongside the more defensive minded Abdoulaye Toure in central midfield, Louza was given freedom to roam when his team had the ball. He was capable of dropping into deep areas and switching the play effectively, showing good vision and technique to find accurate passes. The 21 year old, made some effective progressive passes to put his team on the front foot and linked up well with his teammates in tight areas.

Due to the freedom that he was allowed, Louza could also been seen going beyond the opposition midfield line and trying to find pockets of space in front of the Saint-Etienne defence. He displayed impressive levels of awareness to avoid tackles and keep the build up play ticking over, whilst also making great delayed runs to the edge of the box when the ball found its way to wide areas. It was from one of these runs that Louza was able to score, finding the back of the net with help from a deflection. He also saw another effort from a similar situation be saved by the goalkeeper. Another area of his game that allowed him to pose an attacking threat was from set pieces, as he delivered some dangerous crosses from wide areas with his dominant left foot.

The midfielder fulfilled his defensive duties competently, using his body well to shield the ball but he was not particularly aggressive and didn’t seem overly keen to involve himself in tackles. He is of average height and build, not providing much of an aerial presence but he formed a good partnership with Toure in the centre of the park.

Louza had a very impressive game in midfield, demonstrating high levels of composure and quality in possession and he was instrumental in almost all of Nantes’ threatening attacking phases.

Rating: A1

Ludovic Blas

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 31/12/1997
  • Current Club: Nantes
  • Career: Guingamp, Nantes
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Secondary Position: 10 / Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Left

Aside from Louza, Ludovic Blas was one of Nantes’ other main creative outlets. The Frenchman played as the right winger for Nantes and looked threatening every time that he touched the ball, looking to drive at the opposition with the ball at his feet or find a killer pass. He demonstrated great close control and skill to beat defenders on numerous occasions throughout the match and rarely took the simple option. Despite losing possession on a couple of occasions, Blas always looked confident and seemed to thrive when dribbling at defenders.

The winger displayed excellent vision to find through balls in behind the opposition defence or make some effective lay offs and cutbacks, one of which set up Louza for his goal. He frequently looked to cut inside onto his much stronger left foot and drifted infield off the right wing at times, firing a shot from range that had to be guided around the post. For Blas’ goal, his vision and movement came together, as he found a great pass in behind before continuing his run infield and being found just inside the box to tuck home via the keeper’s fingertips. He did go quiet for periods of the game which meant he couldn’t have as big of a continuous influence on proceedings as Louza, and perhaps he lacked some physicality as he has a fairly slight build, but whenever he did get the ball he always looked a threat.

Defensively, Blas worked hard to track the full back but lacked physicality and aggression at stages and was at fault for one of Saint-Etienne’s goals as he missed a vital header that allowed his man to nod home from close range. However, he did show a willingness to press and make interceptions higher up the field. Overall, Blas was a huge source of creativity for Nantes at stages, managing to score and grab an assist in what was a very promising display.

Rating: A1

Thomas Basila

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 30/04/1999
  • Current Club: Nantes
  • Career: Nantes
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary Position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Thomas Basila looked competent, but based on this performance there are some areas of his game that require development. Playing as a right back in this match, Basila was capable in possession and grew into the game, despite being very conservative with his passing at times. He rarely looked forward, electing to pass either sideways or backwards in order to retain possession and he had mixed success when he did try to pass forward, seeing a couple of passes be cut out but also finding some accurate balls into the forwards. The 21 year old hardly ever dribbled, rarely taking more than two or three touches before releasing the ball.

In defensive phases, Basila managed to make three tackles as well as at least one interception to regain possession for his team and seemed strong and physical in duels. However, he exposed a lack of awareness on occasion, allowing the ball to be passed inside of him a couple of times and failing to stay with his man, perhaps being found guilty of ball watching. He also gave the winger too much space to cross the ball, which is where one of Saint-Etienne’s goals originated from.

On the whole, the Frenchman showed potential but also room for improvement as despite having an 89% pass accuracy, Basila did not make enough effort to move the ball forward, whilst defensively he needed to be more aware of the opposition movement at times.

Rating: B2

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