Nîmes Olympique – Match Report vs Stade Rennais FC 23/02/2020

Rennes managed to snatch all three points at the death against a Nîmes side that were struggling to avoid relegation prior to the cancellation of the 2019/20 Ligue 1 season. The potential relegation candidates took a shock lead within 35 seconds of the match through a well taken finish by Nolan Roux, but their lead was short lived when M’Baye Niang pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty area to level things up on the 7th minute. The first half was lively and well contested, with both sides creating opportunities, setting up the game well for the second period.

However, within 10 minutes of the restart Nîmes centre back Anthony Briancon received his marching orders following a reckless challenge on 17 year old Camavinga. This paved the way for Rennes to dominate the second half and pile the pressure on to the 10 man opposition. Nîmes tried to threaten on the counter but became increasingly entrenched in their own half in order to try and protect what would have been a valuable point. Just as it seemed the game was destined to fizzle out, Niang once again found himself unmarked six yards out in the final minute of normal time and made no mistake in heading home the winner for his side.

Nîmes played in a 4-2-3-1 system prior to the sending off, with Ferhat, Benrahou and Ripart tasked with causing problems against the high flying Rennes side whilst Sarr and Fomba occupied deeper midfield positions. They matched up well against the oppositon for long periods of the first half, causing problems and getting numbers forward. The sending off severely damaged Nîmes’ hopes of taking anything from the game, as it gradually became attack vs defence. They stood strong for a long time and with the help of Bernardoni in goal it seemed as though they may snatch a point, but it was not to be for the 10 man side who eventually went on to avoid the drop thanks to the cancellation of the relegation play-off that they would have been due to play as it stood.

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

Paul Bernardoni

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 18/04/1997
  • Current Club: SCO Angers
  • Career: Troyes, Bordeaux, Clermont (L), Nîmes (L), SCO Angers
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Left

Paul Bernardoni had an outstanding game in goal for his side in this match, keeping Nîmes in the game with some fantastic saves. At 6’3 and with an average build, he has a good stature for a goalkeeper and used it well to generate a lot of power and length in his long kicks and hold on to aerial balls. He didn’t really dominate his area, preferring to remain close to his goal line, and it was his reactions that allowed him to have a significant impact on his team. He made a good save low down to his right to start with, and followed this on to deny a header that seemed bound for the top corner, and then make another two vital stops in the second half. His reaction speed and positioning allowed him to make some superb saves to give his team every chance of getting something out of the game.

His short passing was solid, yet unremarkable, as he took very few risks and cleared the ball out of play a couple of times rather than trying to find a teammate. His long kicks reached great distances but varied in accuracy, sometimes fading out of play whilst other times finding the chest of the forward. As mentioned earlier, he preferred to stay on his line, and this meant that he rarely came out to claim crosses and perhaps could have been more of a presence in the 6 yard box especially. Both goals went into corners of the net from very close range and so he stood no chance of preventing them in that regard, though perhaps if he had been further off his line he could have claimed the cross that lead to the winner.

Overall, his passing varied in quality and he could have been more commanding of his area, but he made two or three top quality saves to deny Rennes when the scores were level and was unfortunate to be on the losing side.

Rating: A2

Sidy Sarr

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Senegalese
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 05/06/1996
  • Current Club: Nîmes
  • Career: KV Kortrijk, Châteauroux, Lorient (L), Nîmes
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Secondary position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Sidy Sarr displayed some strong defensive attributes whilst also cutting a composed figure in possession at the heart of the Nîmes midfield. He completed 38 passes in the match, the most of anyone on his team and had a good level of vision when playing passes from deep lying areas. In the first half, when Nîmes had eleven men on the pitch, Sarr often dropped in between the two central defenders in order to form a back three and allow the full backs to push on.

He attempted several very ambitious long passes and switches of play with a varied success rate, as when they were accurate they could be very effective but several were wayward and ended in a loss of possession. Sarr never spent long with the ball at his feet, making sure to release possession after two or three touches in order to keep the build up play flowing, though perhaps it would have been good to see him drive with the ball on occasion. On the whole he was composed and quite efficient with the ball and played an important role in Nîmes’ build up play.

Sarr seemed to be the more defensive minded midfielder in the side, playing alongside Fomba in a holding two man midfield with Benrahou in the number 10 role ahead of them. He provides a big physical presence at 6’5 and with a strong yet fairly slim build and this aids him when competing in both ground and aerial duels. The Senegalese midfielder won 5 aerial duels in the match, 3 more than any other play on his team, and used his height well to make headed clearances, especially in the second half when his team came under pressure.

He read the play well to intervene at important points, completing two tackles and one interception to regain possession for his team whilst he timed his pressing well to force the play backwards. He also made some important blocks and put his body on the line to deflect shots from the opposition and protect his goal. His positioning was adequate but he could perhaps have been more aware of the whereabouts of the Rennes players, especially in his own box, as he failed to pick up Niang at the back post after he drifted free of the centre backs.

Sarr was an effective defensive tool for his team and used his physicality well to dominate the midfield at stages, whilst displaying good control and passing range when his team had the ball.

Rating: A2

Sofiane Alakouch

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 29/07/1998
  • Current Club: Nîmes
  • Career: Nîmes
  • Position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Alakouch was unfortunate in that he made a bad error early on to gift Niang the equaliser and this is what he will be remembered for in this game, but apart from that he was effective when going forward and relatively solid at the back. He provided a good level of support for the winger, timing his overlapping runs effectively to create overloads and draw the attention of the opposition defender. He had a good level of close control and displayed the ability to beat a man, although his final ball lacked precision. He was composed in possession and made some good progressive passes into the winger whilst appearing to not be phased when put under pressure. Alakouch lost concentration a couple of times that resulted in unnecessary loose passes.

He tucked in neatly when his team lost the ball and made some strong tackles to regain possession and relieve any pressure that may have been building up. He also made two interceptions to cut out opposition passes, displaying good awareness. Unfortunately, the lack of concentration he displayed on the ball filtered into his defensive responsibilities, as he lost his man at the back post on occasion and allowed some crosses to be put into the box too easily by failing to close down the winger. Alakouch’s main downfall came on the 7th minute when the ball came in from the right wing and rather than clearing it, he accidentally allowed the ball to bounce off of him and into the path of Niang who finished easily. It was a mistake, but he could have dealt with it much more effectively than he did, perhaps taking his eye off the ball.

On the whole Alakouch provided good attacking support but lacked end product, whilst some lapses in concentration let down what was otherwise a competent defensive performance.

Rating: B1

Yassine Benrahou

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French / Moroccan
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 24/01/1999
  • Current Club: Nîmes
  • Career: Bordeaux, Nîmes
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Secondary position: Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Benrahou found himself in some great positions and displayed some very promising attributes, but lacked end product and a cutting edge in this match before being withdrawn after 54 minutes. Playing in the number 10 role, Benrahou was given some freedom to roam and try to create chances and openings for his team whilst offering support to the striker, and he did this effectively. He adopted dangerous positions between the opposition midfield and defensive lines and looked to take the ball on the turn and drive with it.

The 21 year old completed 5 dribbles in the match, the most of any player, and showed great levels of close control to beat a man and change direction quickly with the ball at his feet. He also used his close control and low centre low gravity to hold the ball up in the opposition half, allowing support to arrive from deeper areas, whilst he made some good passes to open up the Rennes defence and seemed full of confidence on the ball.

He did have a tendency to overplay at times which could cost his team by losing possession unnecessarily and he could be quite weak which made him ineffective in duels. The main thing that let down Benrahou was his finishing, as he had three very good opportunities to have a shot on goal and he failed to connect properly with any of them. It is promising that he was finding himself in these situations but his lack of composure and killer instinct cost his team in this game.

The midfielder was tasked with very little defensively and didn’t seem to be that enthusiastic when it came to pressing or defending in general. He looked lively on the ball and seemed threatening, but lacked end product when it really mattered. Following the dismissal of one of Nîmes’ central defenders, Benrahou was replaced by a centre back off the bench.

Rating: B1

Lamine Fomba

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 26/01/1998
  • Current Club: Nîmes
  • Career: Auxerre, Nîmes
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

In contrast with Sarr, Fomba had quite a quiet game in midfield, failing to really get involved in build up play and putting in a decent yet unspectacular defensive performance. Fomba only had 39 touches in this match and his passing varied in quality when he did get the ball. He linked up well at times and looked to be progressive, occupying higher positions than his midfield partner Sarr.

However, he was not very efficient and struggled when it came to longer passes especially, with several attempted long balls not finding the intended target. He took up advanved areas around the edge of the penalty area when the ball was in wide forward areas and he had two attempts from range blocked by the Rennes defence and fail to hit the target. He rarely drove with the ball and seemed to lack some confidence in possession.

He is slightly above average in height and has a slim build but used his body well to win possession on a couple of occasions. He displayed good anticipation to throw himself in the way of some Rennes attempts from range. He did find himself wrong footed once or twice and made a sloppy foul to prevent the opposition from advancing.

Fomba put on a subdued performance that was neither exceptional nor horrendous, with some good building blocks but also some areas for improvement.

Rating: B2

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