The spoils were shared between Nice and Rennes in what was a lively encounter between two teams who went on to finish fifth and third in Ligue 1 respectively. Nice edged the possession and number of shots but it was overall a very even affair with both teams having good opportunities to take all three points. 43 shots were attempted between the two teams during the match whilst the referee had a busy game, with 27 fouls having been committed.
In the end a draw was probably a fair result, with Raphinha, Niang and Tait being the most threatening for Rennes, whilst Maolida, Dolberg and Ounas looked dangerous with quite an attacking midfield three behind them for Nice. Nice took the lead just after half time, but then failed to capitalise on their advantage and allowed Rennes to come back at them with some sustained periods of pressure and this eventually paid off when Tait equalised with 10 minutes left to play.
Vieira’s Nice side set up in a 4-4-1-1 formation out of possession, with Claude-Maurice playing just off Dolberg. However, when they did have the ball Danilo Barbosa would step into midfield from centre back, whilst the full backs of Herelle and Sarr would tuck into form a back three, Ounas and Maolida would act as attacking wing backs to provide the width for the team, and the likes of Claude-Maurice would look to make runs beyond Dolberg.
So in possession, Nice played in an attacking 3-5-2 system against Rennes’ more orthodox 4-4-2 and caused problems, especially when Claude-Maurice and Lees-Melou made runs beyond Dolberg into the final third. Nice were almost the cause of their own downfall on a few occasions as their persistence to try and play out from the back saw them get caught in possession in dangerous areas, but they were able to attack with speed once they had beaten the high press.
- 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
- Nationality: Danish
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 06/10/1997
- Current Club: Nice
- Career: Silkeborg IF, Ajax, Nice
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
Kasper Dolberg looked a real talent whilst playing as the primary striker for Nice and he proved to be a handful for the Rennes defence, playing an important role in his team’s attacks. He pressed effectively, cutting out passing lanes and hassling the defence, making sure to get in the defenders face and give them little time on the ball and he showed a great willingness to chase down loose balls and make something out of nothing. The 22 year old showed his capability to run the channels and vertically stretch the opposition, but he also has the ability to receive the ball to feet and bring others into play. His aggression plays a key role in his success, as it allows him to be effective in duels and gives him the ability to effectively close down the opposition.
Despite having the fewest touches out of any player on the pitch, Dolberg was effective at bringing others into play with flick ons and first time lay offs to the supporting midfielders and is capable of competing aerially, standing at 6’1 and with an average build. His awareness of his teammates’ movement and his positioning in relation to the goal allow him to create chances for himself or others, cleverly dummying the ball at one stage to allow the on-running midfielder to get on the end of the pass. This ability to create shooting opportunties for himself is highlighted by the fact he had 6 shots at goal (the second most in the match) despite only touching the ball 31 times.
His off the ball movement is another reason why he is such a handful to play against, making darting runs off the back or in front of defenders and hardly ever being caught static. He is constantly on his toes and displayed great reaction speed to latch on to a loose ball, turn and shoot on a couple of occasions. He was also able to net Nice’s goal, making a great run in between defenders to be found six yards out by the cross for a simple tap in – a poacher’s goal that epitomised Dolberg’s eye for goal and killer instinct.
The only real critisicms that could be made of the Dane is that he plays the game in quite a hectic manner and due to his runs and bursts of pace, it can often be that he is off balance when striking the shot. If he were able to slow himself down ever so slightly when approaching the chance, he could be even more clinical in front of goal. Furthermore he probably could have taken better care of the ball at times when receiving it with his back to goal or into his chest, and despite being aggressive, his strength let him down once or twice – but that is being picky!
Dolberg had a great game and looked to be everything you could want from your number 9, proving to be difficult to defend against, bringing others into play and scoring the goal for his side.
- Nationality: French
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 14/02/1999
- Current Club: Nice
- Career: Lyon, Nice
- Position: Striker
- Secondary Position: Right Wing / Left Wing
- Preferred foot: Right
Maolida started out on the right hand side for Nice, but swapped with Ounas on the left at various stages throughout the match. As mentioned previously, in possession Nice played a fairly standard 4-4-1-1, but when they had the ball it became a 3-5-2, with Maolida and Ounas providing all the width for the team.
He linked up effectively with the central midfielders and forwards to create openings in wide areas to deliver crosses. His movement and weight of pass meant that he was able to cause problems for the Rennes defence and he put in some dangerous deliveries towards the 6 yard box. When the ball was on the other wing, he made some great runs towards the back post and used his pace and height for a wide player (5’11) to pose a threat from crosses. His movement did allow him to get on the end of one cross at the back post and he really should have done better to direct his header on target.
He also seemed confident when receiving the ball to feet and showed good drive and skill to turn and run past opposition players and when out on the left he looked to cut inside onto his stronger right foot. However, he was guilty of overrunning the ball at stages and trying to take on one too many defenders. He had two shots that both missed the target and at times he needed to be more clinical and precise in the final third, whether it be passing or shooting.
The 21 year old worked hard defensively and displayed good anticipation to cut out several opposition passes or pick up loose balls to regain possession for his side. He tracked back well to help the full back and showed good desire and defensive intelligence to double up against the winger. He demonstrated good levels of strength in duels and this also allowed him to hold up the ball and wait for support if he was ever isolated. His acceleration and strength combined with his skill, made him effective at progressing his team up the pitch with the ball at his feet whilst creating space for teammates.
Maolida is still quite raw but certainly showed flair and talent in possession, whilst also displaying good levels of vision and movement to create space and be effective in link up play. His defensive work rate also left little to be desired and he showed a willingess to track back and help his team when possible.
- Nationality: Algerian
- Age: 23
- Date of birth: 11/11/1996
- Current Club: Napoli
- Career: Bordeaux, Napoli, Nice (L)
- Position: Right Wing
- Secondary Position: Left Wing / Attacking Midfield
- Preferred foot: Left
Ounas had a good game out wide and tried to make something happen when he was on the ball, but his tendency to overplay and below average work rate let him down at times. He was inventive in possession and looked to take on the defender, completing 5 dribbles (the most of any player in this match) and displayed impressive levels of skill and control to beat defenders in 1 v 1 situations. His vision was also good, finding some effective forward passes and delivering some dangerous crosses from wide areas, and he made 7 key passes in the match (again the most of any player) as he was a creative outlet for his side. He delivered some dangerous corners for his team, but was also guilty of overhitting a couple of crosses and failing to pick out a teammate.
His low centre of gravity allows him to turn sharply with the ball, but he often tried to do too much and take on too many defenders or find a near impossible pass rather than taking a simple option to an open teammate. He was capable of opening up the opposition defence but by overplaying in promising areas he wasted some chances in what was a very open game. He also seemed to lose concentration in the middle third especially, hitting some particularly wayward passes to give away possession in bad areas.
Once he had lost the ball, Ounas showed little desire to track back and although he was capable of fulfilling his positional role in the defensive set up, he was quite passive when tasked with making a challenge or marking the opposition. This left his team exposed in transition at times, as it left the dangerous Raphinha to be 1 v 1 with the defender when counter attacking. Although he possesses a low centre of gravity and good skill, Ounas’ pace is average and he struggled to cover ground quick enough when tasked with tracking runs or chasing down loose balls. Whilst he is small and with a slim build which makes him susceptible to being dominated in physcial duels.
There is no doubting Ounas’ obvious technical ability, vision and passing range, but he could perhaps improve upon the mental and physical sides of his game, sometimes looking to play a simple ball to retain possession rather than take on several defenders at every opportunity and also looking to become stronger physically in order to better compete in duels.
- Nationality: French
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 23/01/1999
- Current Club: Free Agent
- Career: Nice
- Position: Centre Back
- Secondary Position: Left Back
- Preferred foot: Left
Malang Sarr played as the left back for Nice in this match, tucking in to become a central defender when his team had the ball in higher areas. He was very confident and composed on the ball, happy to buy into Nice’s tactics of playing out from deep areas of the field and breaking through the high press, and indeed he found some effective passes into the midfield beyond the press that Rennes were attempting.
He recycled possession well and rarely lost the ball, making progressive passes and never seeming to be phased under pressure. He also showed good composure and awareness in his defensive headers, either guiding them back to the goalkeeper or directing them away from opposition forwards. Due to the system that was implemeted by Vieira, Sarr rarely ventured forward with the ball and instead was tasked with tucking in and playing out from a central defender role.
Defensively, Sarr lacked awareness and perhaps showed some naivety at times against a very lively and dangerous opposition winger in Raphinha. His body shape when approaching the forward meant that he was caught too square at times and so was easily beaten when the ball was knocked past him, especially in the middle third where he seemed unsure whether to run back towards his own goal and delay the attacker or try and win possession himself.
A couple of times he tried to win possession high up the pitch but overcommitted and as a result left his team exposed when he was beaten. Closer to his own goal he seemed more comfortable in 1 v 1 defending and made a couple of important challenges and interceptions. When the ball was elsewhere, Sarr was caught ball watching and too static on occasion, failing to mark his man at the back post or to clear a loose ball that he perhaps would have gotten to had he been more alert.
Overall, Sarr looked very comfortable with the ball at his feet, but struggled against the pace and skill of the Rennes attack, especially when caught in two minds over whether or not to commit to the tackle.