Following an international break, Ligue 1 returned as early league leaders Stade Rennais headed East to take on bottom of the league FCO Dijon in both sides’ seventh match of the campaign. Prior to the game there seemed to be only one likely outcome with the visitors strong favourites to take home the three points, however, in typical Ligue 1 fashion, this was not the case and the game finished one goal a piece, as Baldé’s second half strike drew the teams level after Terrier had opened the scoring in the 24th minute to give Rennes the lead.
Both teams had good opportunities aside from their goals in what was an interesting, yet fairly mistake ridden, affair in which neither side was able to really dominate proceedings. Dijon started the brighter of the two, and came out firing with Chouiar going close and they looked the most likely to open the scoring, winning every second ball and being direct in possession. However, they were pegged back when, against the run of play, Rennes’ captain Traoré was able to outmuscle Chalá before cutting back for Terrier to find the bottom corner. After that, it did seem as though Rennes began to settle into the game with more sustained periods of possession, but they were unable to put the game to bed and less than 10 minutes into the second half Baldé was sent through down the channel by Chouiar, before cutting inside superbly and firing home the equaliser. After that it seemed as though the game could go either way, as Rennes continued to see more of the ball but Dijon always posed a threat on the counter and in the end, despite going close, neither side was able to find a decisive goal.
The Rennes team had been somewhat depleted by the international break, injuries and suspensions, but they will have still felt they should have taken the three points if they are to seriously mount a challenge at the top of the table this year. This was their first match since the loss of Raphinha to Premier League side Leeds United, and it would be fair to say they lacked his creativity in wide areas. Meanwhile they were missing experienced defensive midfielder Nzonzi and star player Camavinga was given a rest from the start, coming off the bench for the last half an hour or so. Debuts were handed to new signings Rugani and Dalbert in defence who came in for Da Silva and Maouassa (who recently sustained a long term injury) respectively and neither settled particularly well, with Dalbert especially struggling up against Dijon right winger Ebimbe. Having said all this, following the opening goal, they did have chances to put the game to bed and will be disappointed they couldn’t do so, but they will also not be too disheartened by a point away from home.
The hosts went into the game having only managed to get one point out of their opening six fixtures, and against all the odds they were able to double their points tally here thanks to a promising attacking display. They set up in a 4-2-3-1 system with Sammaritano playing just off the lone striker Baldé, though he was given somewhat of a licence to roam and be creative when they had the ball. Meanwhile Chouiar and Ebimbe provided very different threats on either wing, with Ebimbe’s pace and directness and ability to drive his team up the pitch, whilst Chouiar provided creativity, technical ability and a threat to goal by cutting inside onto his stronger right foot. This front four really did look like causing problems at times in this match and did not seem like that of a bottom of the table side.
However, when defending, everything seemed a bit chaotic from a Dijon point of view. Sometimes the forwards would press yet the defence would sit, leaving big gaps in midfield, whilst the back line lacked cohesion and comunication and as a result rarely seemed settled, with some last ditch interceptions and blocks proving vital to not conceding any more goals. This is certainly an area that requires improvement should Dijon wish to change their current fortunes and start to climb the table, though this performance did show that they do have the quality to threaten at the other end.
- 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: French
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 23/01/1999
- Current Club: Dijon
- Career: Lens, Dijon
- Position: Left Wing
- Secondary Position: Right Wing / Attacking Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
Chouiar has the capability to be Dijon’s talisman going forward, with his skill, creativity and finesse, and he showed that at times in this match. The Frenchman’s close control can be exceptional and he is able to use his quick feet and agility to easily beat defenders and create space for himself and others. He completed all five of his attempted dribbles in this match, the joint most of any player on the pitch and beat the opposition right back with clever skill and control on several occasions. He is a player brimming with confidence, not afraid to take on defenders, try and pick out a difficult pass or have a pop at goal. His skill on the ball makes him a very tricky customer for defenders and he looked a real threat to the opposition goal.
He is quite heavily right footed, which could make him quite predictable, but his ability to evade challenges made him difficult to deal with and he frequently tried to cut inside onto his stronger side. When he did cut inside, he had three shots on goal in this match; the first of which was a great effort from outside the area that curled just wide of the far up-right, the second of which was blocked after he took slightly too long to set himself, and the third was saved after he beat a couple of defenders and unleashed a powerful strike that was, unfortunately for him, too near the centre of the goal.
His passing was mixed in this match, as he underhit a couple of overambitious switches of play that didn’t always seem to be on, and the 21 year old was withdrawn on the 78th minute of the game having completed just 13 of his 19 attempted passes. However, he did show glimpses of his capability when it came to passing and final balls, as he delivered a dangerous cross from a set piece and played two key passes, one of which was from a deep area that sent Baldé through down the channel before the striker then went onto score.
For all of his good work on the ball, Chouiar was far from perfect at all times, and he gave the ball away on several occasions after some poor touches in dangerous areas of his own half. Furthermore, he did have a tendency to try and overplay on occasion and he would do well to improve upon his ball retention, especially in matches like this where the opposition see more of the ball so every Dijon attack becomes more valuable and it is important not to waste possession. When challenging in duels or trying to keep the ball under pressure, the winger was able to use his close control at times to wriggle free, but when he was unable to do this, he struggled with the physicality of the game and can be exposed as being quite lightweight and uncommitted to challenges, especially in 50/50’s and this is another reason why he sometimes struggled with ball retention.
Defensively, Chouiar’s physicality and work rate once again let him down at stages. At 5’10 but with a slim build, the youngster can struggle when trying to use his body to protect the ball or shield it from the opposition and although he won both of his attempted tackles in this match, he could appear to be quite weak in duels, especially when the ball was in the air. When tracking the full back, Chouiar was occasionally half hearted in his efforts to work back, and although he is in the team for his creative output, it is important that he is willing to work hard defensively, especially against teams like Rennes who like to invite their full backs to get forward and join the attacks.
Overall, this was a very positive attacking display from Chouiar who displayed that he is more than capable of being a threat. I have now watched and written about the winger on several occasions and have been impressed with his ability in possession every time. He does have some areas for improvement surrounding his physicality and defending, but on the whole he is an exciting young talent who I’m looking forward to watching more of this season, even if it is for a struggling Dijon side.
- Nationality: French / Cameroonian
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 21/11/2000
- Current Club: Dijon (On loan from PSG)
- Career: PSG, Le Havre (L), Dijon (L)
- Position: Right Wing
- Secondary Position: Left Wing / Centre Midfield
- Preferred foot: Right
This was an enthusiastic and on the whole impressive display from the young PSG loanee Éric Junior Dina-Ebimbe, who played on the right wing for his side in this match. The 19 year old is physically exceptional, standing at 6 foot with a strong, powerful build that allows him to have very quick acceleration and pace, as well as being able to stand his ground in shoulder to shoulder duels and provide an aerial presence. These physical attributes are key to the way in which he plays, as he seeks to make the most of his abilities to cause problems for the opposition defence. While Chouiar on the opposite wing relies on his skill and close control to beat defenders, Ebimbe is capable of using raw pace to knock the ball past his opponent before sprinting down the line to get their first.
As mentioned earlier, he is a powerful runner who can shrug off challenges when defenders try to get a shoulder in and this can make him particularly effective on the counter attack. He was frequently able to receive the ball in deep areas before beating defenders and driving his team up the pitch, and he showed the confidence to either drive down the line or drive inside towards the heart of the opposition defence, winning fouls and drawing in defenders. However, it’s not only his pace that is threatening, the 19 year old also possesses good levels of ball control to feint the defender into going the wrong way and he is able to maintain control of the ball whilst running at top speed, meaning he can take advantage of his pace effectively. The youngster attempted 9 dribbles in the match, the most of any player on the pitch, and he made himself a real handful for the opposition defence.
Despite making two key passes in the match and getting one decent shot off that was saved comfortably, it was in the final third that Ebimbe sometimes struggled to have that much of an impact. His decision making and final ball often let him down, misplacing a couple of passes or trying to take on one too many defenders and being crowded out by the opposition. So although his pace and dribbling allowed his team to progress up the pitch, he failed to create many chances when it came to the end of his runs and he should look to become more consistent at this in order to become an even greater threat. He must also be careful when starting out his runs from deep, as on a couple of occasions he was dispossessed before he could get up to full speed and as a result left his team exposed by losing the ball in his own half.
Dina-Ebimbe’s defensive work rate was impressive in this match, and he showed that he was willing to put in the hard yards and fight for the team. He tracked the full back effectively and was not afraid to put a foot in, making four tackles, three clearances and two interceptions. He used his strength well in defensive duels to muscle off the opponent and regain possession, whilst he made a couple of vital interventions when tucking in at the back post. He displayed good awareness and reading of the game to cut out crosses and passes and then worked hard to get forward on the counter attack.
Overall, this was a very positive performance from the 19 year old loanee, who looked threatening on the counter attack and worked hard when defending. He remains quite raw in his abilities and attributes and there are certain areas of his game that require development based off the occasions on which I’ve seen him play, but there is certainly potential there and he could be an important player for Dijon this season, starting all seven of their Ligue 1 matches to to this point.
- Nationality: English
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 25/10/2000
- Current Club: Dijon
- Career: Chelsea (Y), Monaco, Cercle Brugge (L), Dijon
- Position: Centre Back
- Secondary Position: Left Back
- Preferred foot: Left
Jonathan Panzo had a decent game up against a difficult striker in the shape of Serhou Guirassy, but he did expose areas of his game that could require improvement. On the ball, the Englishman seemed sharp and composed, finishing the game with an 87% pass completion rate and seeming happy to take a few touches on the ball to either step out of defence or evade the press before making a pass, and he completed both of his attempted dribbles out from the back. He was not particularly inventive on the ball, preferring to play firm passes to the feet of his centre back partner or full back, but on the whole he did so effectively apart from one or two wayward balls that gave away possession in bad areas, perhaps being guilty of overplaying on the odd occasion.
Panzo displayed good defensive instincts and reactions to make last ditch interventions and clearances, and he made 8 clearances in the game, double the amount of the player with the second most. He also displayed good positivity and awareness to step out of the defensive line to cut out loose passes and as a result he made four interceptions in the match to regain possession for his team (once again the most of any player). Furthermore, he displayed good pace and awareness on the cover to drop deep and sweep up loose balls or to clear the danger before it could develop further.
However, it was positionally and aerially that Panzo struggled in this match. At 6’1 and with a solid build that could perhaps be filled out further, the 19 year old is well equipped to compete physically, but in this game he struggled against the strong and smart Serhou Guirassy who used his body well to win aerial challenges and pin the central defender. Panzo sometimes made it too easy for the striker to get in front of him and receive the ball to feet, and although he hassled him from behind, he was unable to regain possession or force a mistake and Guirassy was allowed to bring his teammates into play.
Moreover, if Guirassy dropped deep or a midfielder received the ball between the lines, Panzo was too easily drawn out of position, leaving a gap in the back line and causing the defence to become disjointed. It also seemed at times that there was a lack of communication between the back four, and although this is their fault as a collective, the young defender should also share some of the responsibility for any lack of organisation. Having said all this, the goal that they did concede cannot be blamed upon Panzo, and Guirassy failed to regularly threaten, so it was a promising display from the England youth international on paper.
Overall, the defender was comfortable on the ball and demonstrated some important defensive attributes and reactions which saved his team from conceding more than the one goal that they did. However, there were certainly areas that Panzo should be looking to improve upon in what could be a tough season for him personally and the Dijon defence as a whole.
- Nationality: Ecuadorian
- Age: 24
- Date of birth: 09/05/1996
- Current Club: Dijon (On loan from Toluca)
- Career: El Nacional, FC Dallas, LDU Quito, Toluca, Dijon (L)
- Position: Left Back
- Secondary Position: Left Wing
- Preferred foot: Left
Despite showing brief glimpses of his qualities, this was a match to forget for Chalá as he made a costly mistake that lead to the Rennes goal before being withdrawn at half time. Defensively, the Ecuadorian seemed solid at times, showing good strength and aggression to make tackles and interceptions, and he seemed to have a stocky build whilst standing at 5’9. He was positive when defending and looked to nip in front of his opponent to win the ball or hassle them away from goal and not allow them time to turn. He showed a decent turn of pace and always wanted to be on the front foot, winning possession for his team on three seperate occasions.
However, he needed to display better awareness and game intelligence, as the winger ahead of him Mounir Chouiar was not willing to work back that often, and so Chalá sometimes found himself in two v one situations, but rather than sitting off and trying to delay the opponent, he instead tried to aggressively win the first challenge, often overcommitting and allowing space to appear in behind him. He was spun too easily by the winger at times, getting too tight to his man, whilst for the goal he was in a good positon to shield the ball out for a goal kick or clear it, but was instead easily muscled out of possession by Traoré who then cut the ball back into the area to set up the goal. The 24 year old’s reaction speed to being turned was also quite slow and he would do well to become defensively more shrewd in order to outhink his opponent.
On the ball, Chalá was quite skilful and on the one occasion he was able to get forward he showed good skill and turn of pace to beat his man and get to the by-line before delivering a poor cross from what was a decent area. Apart from that, there were a couple of neat turns and his passing was relatively solid, but he rarely ventured forward again before being substituted during the break.
Overall, Chalá displayed some of his defensive frailties and was unable to venture forward often, but did show one or two promising signs. He will have been disappointed in his play for the goal they conceded and whether he was withdrawn at half time due to tactical reasons or injury remains to be seen.