Stade Rennes played host to Bordeaux in this Friday evening Ligue 1 encounter. Rennes were in search of a win after a slight drop in form that coincided with some difficult Champions League defeats at the hands of Sevilla and Chelsea, whilst Bordeaux were looking to push on into the battle for the top half after an inconsistent season thus far.
After some early chances for both sides, the match settled down into a midfield battle with openings hard to come by, but it was veteran Bordeaux attacking midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa who broke the deadlock after some fine footwork and a precise finish from the edge of the area. For the remainder of the match, Bordeaux sat increasingly deeper but defended solidly and were able to keep out an evermore desperate Rennes strike force. The final result of 1-0 will have delighted the away side, whilst Rennes will be disappointed to slip to another defeat.
Bordeaux set up in a 4-2-3-1 system, with Ben Arfa given a free role in behind the striker. Baysse and Koscielny provided a strong and combative central defensive pairing, whilst Sabaly and Kwateng were tasked with providing attacking support from full back. Kalu had an influential game on the left wing, frequently driving inside and beating defenders to open up space, however, Zerkane on the right failed to have as big an impact and faded in and out of the game. In central areas, Otávio and Bašić provided a base for the attacks and defensive security that allowed Ben Arfa the freedom to get forward and do as he pleased. This was a great win for Bordeaux, who stood strong defensively for the most part whilst often looking lively and unpredictable in the final third when going forward.
- 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: 23
- Date of birth: 09/04/1997
- Current Club: Bordeaux
- Career: FC Nantes, Bordeaux
- Position: Right back
- Secondary Position: Right Wing
- Preferred foot: Right
Enock Kwateng had a good game from right back, providing a threat down the right flank when going forward, and rarely having any defensive troubles. Physically, Kwateng has a strong, powerful build and is 5’11, allowing him to adequately compete in both aerial and ground duels, whilst giving him the ability to shrug off opponents on occasion when driving with the ball at his feet. The defender was aggressive when committing to 50/50 challenges, but occasionally seemed unsure about his timing and decision making when being ran at with the ball, and as a result he mistimed one or two tackles that resulted in fouls.
When he did commit to the challenge, he was never beaten, either winning the ball or not allowing his man to get beyond him, whilst in the air he was competent and won the majority of his duels. The 23 year old’s main defensive issue in this match was his positioning when the ball was in transition or on the far side of the pitch to him. He would tuck in to support the centre back, but consequently seemed to forget about the winger he was tasked with marking and left himself too much ground to cover to make a challenge if the ball was switched quickly or if Rennes were smooth in transitional phases. Fortunately for the Frenchman, this only happened once or twice in this match due to Rennes’ struggles with fluidity in the middle and final thirds.
In attack, Kwateng displayed a willingness to get forward and provide support for Zerkane ahead of him, and on one occasion in particular showed the threat he could provide by making a marauding overlapping run before accurately cutting the ball back to Ben Arfa who was unable to provide the finishing touch on that occasion. He also made good use of his pace to provide width and draw defenders away from Zerkane who often looked to cut inside.
During build up play, he did play some accurate passes down the line, but at times he was too predictable and slow on the ball and as a result only completed 23 of his 41 attempted passes in this match. So despite his desire to look forward, he could have perhaps been more inventive and efficient in possession in order to either retain the ball or progress his team up the pitch in different areas. He also rarely looked to carry the ball, and instead regularly looked to release it when put under any pressure rather than taking on his man.
Overall, this was a decent display from Kwateng, who illustrated his ability to provide a threat when going forward and his ability to dominate defensive duels, however, some hesitation and issues with positioning when out of possession let him down at times and he needed to be more efficient at recycling possession when his team did have the ball.
Rating – B1
- Nationality: Algerian
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 15/07/1999
- Current Club: Bordeaux
- Career: AS Monaco (Y), Bordeaux
- Position: Attacking Midfield
- Secondary Position: Right Wing / Centre Midfield
- Preferred foot: Left
This was a relatively subdued display from young midfielder Mehdi Zerkane, who operated out on the right wing and was only able to have 30 touches of the ball before being withdrawn with an hour played. Technically, it is clear that the Algerian has a lot of impressive tools at his disposal, and in brief glimpses he showed his ability to drift past defenders, effortlessly bring the ball under his spell or pick out a perfectly weighted pass in the final third. However, he was unable to do so consistently and as a result provided very little threat from the right hand side.
There were two occasions in which Zerkane seemed as though he might make something happen, the first of which was when he received the ball around 25 yards out and shaped to cut inside and unleash a shot with his favoured left foot, but instead played a very intelligent reverse pass into the path of the overlapping Kwateng who then put a ball across the area. Whilst the other occasion was quite similar as he squared up to his man before working a yard of space to shoot with his left foot from the edge of the box, but in the end his effort was fairly tame and didn’t trouble the goalkeeper too much.
Zerkane played on the right, but frequently looked to drift infield and into the half spaces where the defenders were unsure whether to close him down or not. However, by doing this, he failed to provide any width and often the crowded midfield areas meant that he was unable to have much of an influence on proceedings.
Defensively, Zerkane struggled to match the energy displayed by Rennes left back Truffert, and seemed unwilling to track back at times. The 5’9 midfielder has a decent but unremarkable turn of pace and has quite a skinny build, but did display a good leap on occasion to overcome his opponent in aerial duels. His energy levels were mixed and at times he seemed to drift out of the game and have very little involvement, something he could perhaps work upon improving.
On the whole, Zerkane displayed glimpses of his quality and potential, but his lack of consistency and relatively low energy levels let him down a bit. Despite this performance, Zerkane is a player who I believe has the potential to be an important asset for Bordeaux to accompany their already fairly impressive array of midfield talents in the likes of Adli, Bašić, Ben Arfa, De Preville, Kalu etc., consequently, I will be keen to keep an eye on his development as the season continues.
Rating – B2
- Nationality: Nigerian
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 27/12/1998
- Current Club: Bordeaux
- Career: Sunderland, Bordeaux
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
This was a very quiet display from young striker Josh Maja, who struggled to get involved prior to his substitution on the 60th minute. He occasionally looked to make runs in behind or off the shoulder of the defenders, and these looked as though they could lead to something dangerous, but in the end he was marshalled fairly comfortable by the Rennes centre backs. The 5’9 forward displayed an impressive leap and timing in the air to beat defenders in aerial duels, however, his flick ons were often beyond him and there were very few players looking to make runs off him.
He was relatively effective when receiving the ball to feet, and displayed an ability to fend off opponents before bringing others into play, showing a good awareness of his surroundings and holding up the ball well at times. In terms of providing a threat to the opposition goal, Maja offered very little, failing to register a single shot, whilst he also failed to even have a touch in the opposition penalty area.
This was a relatively tidy and understated performance from Maja, who I’m yet to be convinced by as a lone striker at this level, as although he is able to hold the ball up effectively when receiving it to feet, he often struggles to offer anything in the way of a threat and perhaps looks as though he could do with someone to play off or next to.
Rating – C
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