RC Strasbourg – Match Report vs FC Lorient 23/08/2020

In both team’s opening encounter of the Ligue 1 season, newly promoted Lorient played host to RC Strasbourg who went into the game having lost 10 of their last 14 matches against newly promoted sides. The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on every team’s preparation for the new season, but perhaps none more so than Strasbourg who had nine players test positive for the virus in the month leading up to the first competitive fixture of the 2020/21 campaign. By contrast, Lorient gained promotion early due to the outbreak as they sat top of Ligue 2 by one point when the season was brought to an abrupt end.

Despite the hampered preparation for the new season, Strasbourg went into half time with a 1-0 lead thanks to a Mehdi Chahiri strike on the 30th minute with what was the best chance of the game up to that point. Strasbourg had looked comfortable during the first half and settled down well into the game, limiting Lorient’s opportunities as much as possible whilst scoring a good goal on the break. However, Lorient had looked dangerous at points in the opening 45 as they recovered following an early set back of new signing Diarra limping off prior to the opening goal and it was in the second half that they really kicked on. They grabbed an equaliser in the opening exchanges of the second period via the head of Yoane Wissa, and then took the lead thanks to a Grbic penalty before sealing the win with a third goal in the 87th minute. Strasbourg offered little in the way of a reaction and saw their terrible record against newly promoted teams extended. 

Strasbourg played in a 4-2-3-1 formation and relied upon Ajorque holding the ball up whilst the likes of Thomasson and Chahiri made supporting runs. They really failed to commit sufficient numbers to attacks, especially in the final half an hour after they had fallen behind, despite making several attacking changes. The lack of match preparation and key players missing through injury or quarantine (which resulted in playing third choice goalkeeper 37 year old Kawashima) probably took their toll in the end and they will be hoping for better fortunes in the coming weeks as more players return.

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

Mohamed Simakan

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French / Guinean
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 03/05/2000
  • Current club: RC Strasbourg
  • Career: RC Strasbourg
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Operating as a right back in this match, Mohamed Simakan put on a promising display that demonstrated his strong defensive instincts whilst also illustrating some areas that could be improved upon. The 6’2 defender has a strong build that is perhaps more suited to that of a centre back and that allows him to challenge effectively in both shoulder to shoulder and aerial duels, whilst possessing an average turn of pace.

The 20 year old was aggressive in the challenge and stuck tight to his man, hastling him in an attempt to force the attacker to make a mistake or play backwards. He tried not to let the attacker turn and instead quickly closed his man down on his first touch. This positive and aggressive defending lead to the defender completing the most tackles of any player (4), with a 100% success rate.

However, being so tight to his man meant that he could also be caught out in behind and he rarely gave himself any margin for error, whereas most defenders try to give themselves a few yards head start to cut out balls in behind or over the top. He had mixed success with his marking, making one or two vital interventions at the back post, but also allowing his man to get a run on him on occasion and it could be argued that he should have tucked in to mark Wissa (who had moved inside onto the shoulder of the centre back) for Lorient’s equaliser.

Furthermore, this tight defending can be effective in wider areas as there is less room for the attacker to manoeuvre, but when drawn centrally it is harder for the defender to force the play backwards and this lead to Simakan committing 3 fouls, one of which was particularly cynical in a midfield area and for it he received a yellow card.

Simakan showed a desire to get forward and seemed composed in possession, playing some accurate long passes into the striker, however, his control and delivery were somewhat inconsistent. He let a few heavy touches get away from him and, despite making runs into attacking wide areas, his crosssing left room for improvment, often lacking the necessary pace and angle to trouble the defence. Simakan seemed primarily concerned with his defensive duties but as the game wore on and his team had fallen behind, he seemed eager to get forward and help inject some attacking impotus, making increasingly frequent runs down the right hand side in an effort to create overloads or stretch the opposition.

Overall, the 20 year old highlighted some areas of his game that could perhaps be improved as he matures, but also some of his excellent attributes that allow him top be an effective defensive force and point towards an exciting future.

Rating: A2

Ibrahima Sissoko

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 27/10/1997
  • Current club: RC Strasbourg
  • Career: Brest, Strasbourg
  • Position: Defensive Midfield
  • Secondary position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Imposing 6’4 defensive midfielder Ibrahima Sissoko had a solid game at the heart of the Strasbourg midfield, rarely putting a foot wrong. He used his physicality well to put himself about in challenges and he battled effectively throughout the match, winning two tackles and making two interceptions for his team.

Despite his physicality being a big part of his game, the Frenchman’s awareness and reading of the game were also impressive, allowing him to intervene in midfield to win back possession and also to be aware of his surroundings when receiving the ball. This awareness permitted him to press effectively out of the midfield line and despite being harshly penalised at one stage, he went on to show good anticipation to force the Lorient player into a mistake.

He was able to take positive first touches in possession that set him up to make play forwards and he was incredibly efficient with his passing by completing 31 of 32 attempted passes as well as making a key pass from midfield. The 22 year old’s aerial presence also came to prominence at stages and he made an excellent flick on to set up the counter attack. However, he did let one or two heavy touches stray from his path and at times faded in and out of the game, failing to have as much of an impact in the second half as he did in the first.

Overall it was an impressive display from Sissoko who had a positive impact on his team’s performance, especially in the first half, and was withdrawn with 15 minutes to play.

Rating: A2

Mehdi Chahiri

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French / Moroccan
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 25/07/1996
  • Current club: RC Strasbourg
  • Career: USL Dunkerque, Red Star, RC Strasbourg
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary position: Right Wing / Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

This match saw Mehdi Chahiri make the jump from the French third to first division, having been handed his Strasbourg debut in the opening game of the season. He was deployed on the left wing and showed good positivity, always looking to get forward and attack, something which the rest of his side lacked for long periods.

The 5’11 winger has a stocky build and good burst of pace that allows him to drive with the ball effectively and make runs in behind. His control was to a decent standard and he was able to beat a man when running with the ball at his feet, though he occasionally showed some naivety by running down blind alleys and allowing himself to be crowded out. He was a creative outlet out wide and looked to drive inside onto his favoured right foot, before either shotting or trying to find a teammate.

It was clear that he had a natural creative instinct, but often he lacked the technique to execute the final ball. Chahiri’s willingness to get forward and provide support to the lone striker Ajorque is what allowed him to mark his debut with a well taken goal, as the striker held up the ball and Chahiri made a great supporting run before being picked out on the edge of the box and finishing with aplomb into the bottom corner to give his team the lead.

The 24 year old needed to have more patience on the ball, as instead of looking to always run at the opposoiton from deep areas and being crowded out, he needed to have more composure and look to play simple passes. As a result of his eagerness to get forward, he gave the ball away in vulnerable midfield areas on two occasions, exposing his team to the counter attack in the process.

Chahiri executed his defensive duties competently on the whole and looked to press the full back and force the opposition backwards, but sometimes he failed to provide enough support for his full back who was struggling with the creativity of Quentin Boisgard.

The winger was a bright spark in attack for this Strasbourg side and will have been delighted to mark his debut with a goal and stake his claim for a place in the team going forward, though he also made some simple mistakes from which he will have to learn quickly as the season gets into full swing.

Rating: B1

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