FC Nantes – Match Report vs Girondins de Bordeaux 21/08/2020

Girondins de Bordeaux played host to FC Nantes in the opening encounter of the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season, following a turbulent pre-season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately from a neutral point of view, the game was not much of a spectacle as it ended 0-0 with both teams struggling to create any sort of clear cut opportunities during their first league match since late April.

Both sides only managed to have one shot on target each and the main talking point surrounded the dismissal of Bordeaux youngster Mehdi Zerkane in the 20th minute following a VAR review. You would be forgiven for thinking that Nantes would go on to dominate against a 10 man opposition for 70 minutes, but in fact the game remained fairly even throughout.

Nantes set up in a 4-2-3-1 system, with Moutoussamy playing just off Coulibaly in the number 10 and striker roles respectively. They looked to play out from defence and relied heavily on the passing abilities of Chirivella and Louza in centre midfield during build up play. Coulibaly offered very little and saw hardly any of the ball, whilst Moutoussamy was busy but offered very little threat. In wide areas, Bamba and Simon seemed to be lively when in possession, but Nantes failed to get them into the game enough and so their influence on proceedings was greatly restricted. A draw away from home on the opening game of the season following a very strange pre-season is by no means a disaster, but having played the majority of the match against 10 men, Nantes will feel they should have at least created more chances.

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: Centre Midfield
  • Secondary Position: 10 / Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Imran Louza displayed his quality in possession and dictated the tempo of his team’s play for large periods of this match. The 21 year old linked up effectively in midfield and was heavily involved in proceedings, having the most touches, passes attempted and passes completed out of any player on the pitch whilst also competing the most key passes of any player on his team.

He displayed an excellent passing range and level of vision to make switches of play and find passes in behind the opposition full backs, whilst he also had the awareness to play shorter passes in order to draw the defenders in before playing sweeping switches to the other wing where space could be found. He is a very delicate player with the ball at his feet and rarely seemed rushed. In this match, Louza dropped quite deep to try and receive the ball with time and orchestrate the Nantes attacks – he could frequently be seen getsiculating to his teammates to occupy different spaces and make runs.

He is also capable of driving with the ball from deep and although he rarely took on defenders he was happy to exploit any space that appeared in front of him. He can be a little too relaxed on the ball at times and so hit a couple of careless loose passes and had a couple of heavy touches that got away from him, but all in all he was the conductor of this Nantes team and their failure to score came down to a lack of cutting edge ahead of him, with Moses Simon seeming to be the only possible threat from left wing.

Louza is not an outstanding player physically, standing at 5’10 and with an average build he does not have a particularly imposing presence in the midfield, and he showed in this game that can be quite passive defensively, being beaten on a couple of occasions and failing to sprint back. Though he did show good anticipation at stages to make an interception and nip in front of the attacker to win back possession.

Overall, Louza was probably Nantes’ most influential player in possession and their lack of end product in the final third was what really hindered them, rather than their build up play.

Rating: A2

I have previously taken a closer look at Louza over a number of matches last season and wrote an in depth player report on him that you can read here.

Samuel Moutoussamy

Player profile:

  • Nationality: DR Congo
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 12/08/1996
  • Current Club: Nantes
  • Career: Lyon, Nantes
  • Position: Central Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing / Right Wing / Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Moutoussamy operated in a type of second striker role in this match, playing off Coulibaly who was the primary forward and physical focal point of the Nantes attack. He had a mixed game, showing a willingness to involve himself in build up play and dropping deep to link up neatly in midfield areas. He tried to take the ball on the turn on occasion and did so effectively, winning fouls or injecting pace into the attacking moves.

The 24 year old looked to drift into spaces between the lines but struggled to ever really get a clear run at the well organised Bordeaux back four. He sometimes brought others into play well during build up, but by dropping deep he often left the striker quite isolated and offered little in the way of a direct threat to the opposition goal, seeing both his shots blocked. He was efficient with his passing, only misplacing one throughout the entire game, but he lacked creativity and failed to register a key pass.

The Congolese forward has a good turn of pace and a low centre of gravity, but lacked physicality and so was easily muscled off the ball in 1 v 1 duels at times. He looked most threatening when making runs beyond Coulibaly, in behind the defence, but he did not make the most of these opportunities and Bordeaux’s relatively low block meant that there wasn’t too much space to exploit, esepcially in central areas.

Defensively he worked hard to press and seemed to cover a lot of ground before being withdrawn with just under 10 minutes left to play, but also committed one or two clumsy fouls and, as mentioned previosuly, lacked any real physical presence in duels. On the whole, it was a solid yet unspectacular performance from Moutoussamy who lacked creativity in the final third, much like the rest of his teammates.

Rating: B1

Pedro Chirivella

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 23/05/1997
  • Current Club: Nantes
  • Career: Valencia (Y), Liverpool, Go Ahead Eagles (L), Willem II (L), Extremadura (L), Nantes
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Chirivella played alongside Louza at the heart of the Nantes midfield, and demonstrated his quality on the ball at stages, despite also allowing some sloppiness to creep in from time to time. He displayed good vision and a wide passing range, finding smart passes in behind the full backs and looking to move the ball forward when possible. He seemed composed in possession but rarely drove with the ball, instead preferring to play simple passes if a more progressive one could not be seen.

Occasionally his vision outweighed his technique, as although the ideas behind some of his passes were very creative, he was unable to weight them correctly or find the right angle to play the pass and so saw some balls stray wayward from the intended target. He rarely ventured too far forward, but on one of the occasions that he did find himself in an advanced area he saw a shot from range fly just wide of the post with what was one of his team’s best efforts at goal.

At 5’10 and with a slim build, Chirivella is not very athletic or physically imposing in the midfield and so can struggle in duels, but despite this he was able to put a foot in and win a couple of tackles for his team. He screened the back four relatively well but had little to do in the way of defending, especially following the red card for Bordeaux in the opening quarter of the match.

Overall, Chirivella looked competent on his Nantes debut and seemed comfortable in midfield, but it was a fairly quiet display from the Spaniard who will be looking to kick on at his new club.

Rating: B1

Alban Lafont

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 23/01/1999
  • Current Club: Nantes (On loan from Fiorentina)
  • Career: Toulouse, Fiorentina, Nantes (L)
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Preferred foot: Right

Lafont had a very quiet game in which he had to do very little work for his clean sheet on the opening day of the season. Having said that, there were areas of his game that showed some frailty and that he will be looking to eliminate over the coming season. With the ball at his feet he was composed and found some nice passes into midfield and the defenders, rarely electing to kick long. However, at times he spent too long before releasing the ball and invited the attacker to close him down, which resulted in one clearance deflecting off the attacker (fortunately for him it went straight to a Nantes player) and then he was on the end of a late challenge as the forward tried to prevent him making a pass into midfield.

From crosses he had varied success, punching one clear effectively from a corner, but then also flying off his line unconvincingly and completely missing the ball when trying to claim a free kick that had been whipped in. He didn’t instil confidence between the sticks, nearly being caught off his line by an audacious Otavio lob from a long way out and then making a very unorthodox save with his legs of a shot from range that seemed fairly routine.

He did enough to maintain his clean sheet, but on another day against a team that created more chances it could have been very different for the 21 year old shot stopper.

Rating: B2

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