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.
Bordeaux initially set up in a 4-3-3 system, but following the red card it became more of a 4-4-1 with the two wingers dropping deeper to help out defensively. Basic’s shot from range that was parried away and Otavio’s ambitious attempt at a lob from near the half way line were perhaps the side’s best chances and this should tell you everything you need to know about the lack of a cutting edge the team possessed. Fortunately for the 10 man side, Nantes experienced similar failings in the final third and Bordeaux’s defensive organisation was enough to see them through to a point.
- 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: Croatian
- Age: 23
- Date of birth: 25/11/1996
- Current Club: Bordeaux
- Career: Hajduk Split, Rudeš (L), Bordeaux
- Position: Centre Midfield
- Secondary Position: Defensive Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Toma Bašić put on a promising display from centre midfield, standing out as one of the better players in possession for his team whilst also carrying out his defensive duties competently. The 23 year old seemed confident on the ball and linked up well in midfield, showing a good range of passing to try and pick out balls in behind or progressive passes that invited the wingers to get forward. His decision making was one of his best assets, finding passes into channels in order to move his team up the pitch or bringing others into play in order to retain possession and relieve any pressure that was building on his team.
The 6’3 Croatian is a big physical presence and has a strong build, allowing him to fend off challenges and retain possession when under pressure. He was not afraid to put his body about in challenges and demonstrated good strength and aggression in duels, allowing him to drive the ball out from deeper areas at times. The quality of his final ball varied, putting in a good delivery from a set piece and releasing a powerful shot from around 25 yards out that was parried away by the keeper, but also overhitting some passes when under little pressure or selling his teammates short a couple of times in deeper areas.
Defensively, his stature allows him to be a natural aerial presence at the heart of the midfield and he showed a willingness to work hard and close down the opposition midfielders, even when his team was a man down. He was strong in the tackle and put a stop to some promising situations for Nantes, but occasionally he was overly aggressive and as a result committed a couple of cynical fouls to prevent counter attacks.
Overall, Bašić had a good game and his, and his midfield partner Otavio’s, performances were important to their side managing to get something out of the game despite the early set back of Zerkane’s red card.
- Nationality: Nigerian
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 27/12/1998
- Current Club: Bordeaux
- Career: Sunderland, Bordeaux
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
Former Sunderland striker Josh Maja had a quiet game whilst leading the line for Bordeaux before being withdrawn at half time. He showed glimpses of promise, but offered no real threat to the opposition goal, possibly due to a lack of service – something that both teams struggled with in this match.
He dropped in front of the central defenders in order to receive the ball to feet, but seemed to lack confidence at stages, opting to pass straight back to the defence rather than trying to turn and go forward, even when under little pressure. His first touch was solid and allowed him to scan for options, but was often too negative, receiving the ball with his back to goal rather than on the half turn.
He needlessly misplaced a couple of passes which put his team on the back foot on occasion and when he did make a pass, he was too static instead of looking for a return. Despite his team’s lack of creativity, Maja himself rarely looked like threatening and perhaps made it too easy for the defenders by operating completely in front of them rather than looking to get in behind.
Physically he seems to have a decent turn of pace which he did not make enough use of, whilst he has a relatively stocky build that allows him to compete in duels. Positionally his defending was ok, but he was quite passive and rarely looked to actively press the opposition defenders. The 21 year old was withdrawn at half time (probably due to a tactical change following the red card in the first half) putting an early end to what was a quiet display from the number 9.