Saint Etienne – Match report vs Lorient 30/08/20

This is a guest piece from @EFC_Cal.

St Etienne started off their league campaign this week against Lorient, after their initial opener scheduled against Marseille was cancelled after Marseille lost a multitude of players due to them being infected with COVID-19 . They were expecting to face a tough test in newly promoted Lorient after their impressive 3-1 victory against RC Strasbourg last week with Enzo Le Fee being a standout in particular.

However, this was not the case as Etienne walked out with a comfortable 2-0 win at home, easing off in the second half since they got the second early on in the half in the 51st minute. They had double the shots of Lorient who only managed to have 6 shots at goal with only one, making it on target as well as having less possession. Lorient didn’t have anywhere near as much presence in midfield as last week with their midfield 3 being outclassed by Etienne’s pivot on multiple occasions and their defence being particularly open with only Julien Laporte putting in a respectable performance. 

ST Etienne set up in a 4-2-3-1 handing a league debut to CM Yvan Neyou and a competitive debut to Adil Aouchiche on the LW who would play narrow and the fullback Macon would help to provide some form of width and support but was slightly conservative. This area of the pitch is where Etienne focused a lot of their play perceiving Lorient RB Houboulang Mendes as a weakness, with Aouchiche getting the most touches out of all the attackers with 52 and Macon getting the most touches on the pitch with 79.They had a solid defensive shape, as expected from a Claude Puel side using Mahdi Camara and Yvan Neyou as out balls who were tasked with progressing the ball to their more creative counter parts particularly Aouchiche.They weren’t afraid to play long either, something that was very beneficial for Arnaud Nordin who thrived off of some of the long balls over the top of the defence getting 2 assists supplying Romain Hamouma.


  • 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

Yvan Neyou

Officiel : Yvan Neyou prêté à l'ASSE

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Cameroonian 
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 03/01/1997
  • Current Club: Saint-Etienne
  • Career: Sedan, Stade Lavallois, SC Braga B, Saint Etienne
  • Position: Central Midfield 
  • Secondary position: Defensive Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Neyou had a good game on the left side of a double pivot, partnered by Mahdi Camara. He barely did anything wrong all game, making a promising start to the new campaign. On the ball he is technically sound with his dribbling making him press resistant and a confident carrier of the ball to get Etienne up the pitch. His passing is useful for this as well, with him willing to play it forwards and boasting an impressive passing range allowing him to switch play giving Etienne a chance to attack any potential spaces that have opened up. His confidence in his dribbling allows him to be comfortable in tight spaces when being pressed making him an effective out-ball for the defenders knowing he has the capabilities to beat the press and take the pressure off, shown by him completing 3 dribbles and being fouled twice. He did try too much on one occasion and lost the ball in his half but showed good determination and won it back atoning for his error. 

His passing was very accurate throughout the game completing 39 passes (92.9% accuracy) and 5 out of 6 long balls. This let Etienne control parts of the game and helped them to get forwards linking the defence to the more creative players, with good line breaking passes or with a long switch out to Debuchy, something he utilised often since Debuchy was constantly an outlet on the right side touchline. He was never afraid to get on the ball, something that was necessary since Lorient were chasing the game from the 19th minute onwards, it’s this type of composure and confidence which was a factor in Etienne walking out as comfortable winners in the end. 

Off the ball he maintained position which is the type of discipline Claude Puel likes to see in his defensive structure. In the tackle he was aggressive in trying to win the ball back and made 3 tackles. At 5’11 with good ground covering capabilities and an average build he can offer a decent service when not on the ball with him not being a pushover whatsoever, strengthening the Etienne spine whilst also adding a much needed link between defence and attack.

Neyou looks a very competent midfielder on and off the ball early on in his Etienne career with two good performances back to back one being against perennial champions PSG in the Coupe De France final. It’ll be interesting how he gets on throughout the season and whether he can maintain his performances.

Rating – A2

Adil Aouchiche

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 15/07/2002
  • Current club: Saint Etienne
  • Career: PSG, Saint Etienne
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Secondary position: Centre Midfield, Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

On the left wing Aouchiche was handed a competitive debut by Claude Puel in the season opener playing the full 90 minutes. Aouchiche wasn’t lacking in confidence, constantly showing for the ball and making himself a viable passing option resulting in him having the highest amount of touches of the Etienne attackers. This confidence is evident in his style on the ball, with him willing to take people on and take them out of the game and make things happen. He showed good decision making as well, getting into areas that wouldn’t put Etienne in a dangerous situation and not being unrealistic in his dribbling attempts. 

His passing mainly consisted of short link up passes on the left hand side of the pitch linking up with Nordin who played in the number 10 role for Etienne or Macon who played at LB and had a supporting role as opposed to a creative role. He did also exhibit an ability to play long passes but these few passes were mainly safe and backwards as opposed to trying to play dangerous balls in behind the defence. He has a good set piece delivery as well usually beating the first man most of the time and creating a chance for his Etienne team mates. He was comfortable using both feet, nearly scoring a goal on his weaker left foot but was denied by a solid save from Lorient keeper Paul Nardi at the near post.

Defensively he was okay, winning the ball back on occasion but this has never been his strong point of with him being much more of a flair player than an engine who runs the hard yards. He looked a bit lightweight at times getting muscled off of the ball or being weak in a challenge, this is due to his slim build this’ll improve as he gets older though growing into his frame and bulking up. 

In only his second ever appearance in the league Aouchiche was not out of place whatsoever and showed he can be depended upon to make things happen for Claude Puels Etienne side, showing real ability on the ball which will only improve the more game time he gets.

Rating – A2

Wesley Fofana

Player profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 17/12/2000
  • Current club: Saint Etienne
  • Career: Saint Etienne
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: right

Fofana is now the star man in the Etienne backline after William Saliba’s departure to Arsenal. Fofana is great physically with a wide build making him strong in shoulder-to- shoulder challenges, being 6’3 with a very powerful jump making him strong in the air and therefore a threat from set pieces and also possesses good pace to recover if he gets beat or if a player is played in behind with a through ball. This pace allowed Debuchy to play high for Etienne since they are confident that Fofana is fast enough to get across if the opposition tried to exploit the space left and good enough in 1v1 situations defensively that Etienne won’t be in trouble.

Fofana is aggressive in attempting to win the ball back committing 4 fouls and receiving a yellow, but he does time his tackles well when it matters and on one occasion making a clean standing tackle when Lorient had a decent chance for a shot due to a scramble in the box, throughout the game he made 4 tackles.. He is not afraid to put his body on the line either blocking 2 shots from Lorient, when the opposition are wide looking to put in cross he shows good defensive IQ taking up a side on body shape which allows him to keep an eye on his man and on whether the ball is coming in or not and if it does he can react accordingly. He can be guilty of not checking his shoulder though since at one point a cross came in and he allowed the attacker in between him and Debuchy , but he got lucky since the cross wasn’t accurate allowing Debuchy to head clear.

On the ball Fofana needed to show improvements from what we saw last year and he did so in this game looking relatively comfortable making line breaking passes and progressing the ball up the pitch completing 82% of his passes. But his passing range still needs work with him only completing 3 long balls from 11 attempts. 

To go up the next level Fofana needs to keep improving the ball playing side of his game since the actual defensive and physical side of his game are at a good level already. If he can do this then he will be an elite centre back in a few years time.

Rating – A2

Denis Bouanga

Player profile:

  • Nationality: Gabonese 
  • Age: 25
  • Date of birth: 11/11/1994
  • Current club: Saint Etienne
  • Career: Lorient, RC Strasbourg, Tours, Nimes Olympique, Saint Etienne
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary position: Right Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Bounga was a talisman for Etienne last year with his blistering pace combined with his dribbling and good goal scoring ability resulting in 10 goals and 3 assists. He would’ve been hoping to get his 2020/21 off to a good start to try and build and a good last season however this was not the case. 

Bouanga struggled to get involved in the game only getting 27 touches, not helped by the fact Etienne were focusing a lot of their play down the left hand side and to attack through Aouchiche. But when he did get on the ball he struggled to show much quality with most of his passes being loose even if they were very simple passes to make. He also missed a big chance to score after Yvan Neyou’s shot was deflected causing the keeper to awkwardly parry it into the 6 yard box for an easy chance but Bouanga hit it wide. He had one good moment where he showed his pace bursting down the line and flashing in a dangerous cross which was just out of reach for Aouchiche. 

Off the ball he was no better being weak in the challenge and generally lazy in his attempts to win it back, meaning Mahdi Camara had to be the one to step up and help Debuchy something he did very well in fairness.  Overall Bouanga had a poor game offensively and defensively something he will be looking to put behind him for Etienne’s next game which is against RC Strasbourg

Rating – D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: