Olympique Lyonnais defeated Porto 1 – 0 in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 game. They have been struggling in their domestic league, even though they plowed through their Europa League group, even though they played weaker opponents like Brondby IF and Sparta Praha. Bosz chose a 4-4-2 on defence and 4-2-3-1 on offence with Ndombele and Caqueret in the midfield. I did get to watch Lucas Paqueta and Tanguay Ndombele, the former being an up and coming star for Lyon and the latter being someone trying to rebuild his career after an average stay in England.
This article is written by guest writer Nicholas Artiedamarin.
- 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, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Age : 24
- Date of Birth: 26 Aug 1997
- Current Club: Olympique Lyonnais
- Career: Flamengo, AC Milan, Olympique Lyonnais
- Position: Attacking Midfielder
- Preferred Foot: Left
Paqueta started off the game at the 10 on offence, but not strictly as he was able to roam wherever he wanted to receive the ball. On defence, Paqueta was the first line of defence in a 4-4-2 with Dembele. In the first minute his head became bloody by colliding head on against Pepe. He was quickly bandaged and resumed the game. Later he scored the match-winning goal with a calm finish inside the 18 in the second half.
Lucas Paqueta needs the freedom to be able to do whatever he wants on the ball and off the ball when on offence. This is exactly what Bosz instructed Paqueta to do in this game. Paqueta was spread around the pitch, looking for the ball everywhere he could. For example, when the wingers were high up with the ball, one would expect the 10 to be in the box or roam around it. Instead, Paqueta would drop deep to provide the option there as a 6 would do. When he got the ball, Paqueta almost never passed it back, he was always looking for a forward option. Either if it was a 1-2 with a teammate or a clever ball through to Toko Ekambi or Dembele, he would find the ball that would cause trouble for the defenders. What was special about Paqueta was that he almost never lost the ball when facing the defender even though he doesn’t have tight space foot skills.
He looks taller than he is, probably because he is lanky. Even though he looked like he would be shrugged off the ball easily, he had surprising strength against other players, even though it helped that Porto’s midfielders were not very tall. He doesn’t have anything about him that stands out physically, he has average pace and average change of direction.
A part of his game that is worrying is his sudden lack of concentration in certain moments. He almost gave a penalty away when he miscontrolled a headed ball and then the ball hit his extended hand. He has a strong technical ability and moments like these should be very rare. The penalty was ruled for offside and the penalty wasn’t given. Also, when receiving with the ball on his back, he is always a calm presence on the ball and finds a one touch pass back or is able to turn. But on a couple instances, Paqueta received the ball and just stood there, like he forgot what to do, letting the centre backs take the ball from him.
Paqueta could easily play at a higher level when he gets rid of his moments of lack of concentration as he will be more heavily punished against better teams. He would seem as a good fit, in my opinion, at Chelsea where they play a 5-3-2. He would be able to play as one of the two up top and become a false 9, creating chances.
- Nationality: French
- Age: 25
- Date of Birth: 28 Dec 1996
- Current Club: Olympique Lyonnais
- Career: Amiens SC, EA Guingamp, Spurs, Olympique Lyonnais
Ndombele is a special player. He reminds me of another Paul Pogba, very good on the ball, but very weak off it, needing a hard-working midfielder next to him. Ndombele started a double pivot with Maxence Caqueret, with Ndombele playing as a deep-lying playmaker.
On the ball, Ndombele is a wonderful player. He is calm on the ball and doesn’t panic when defenders press him. He is able to dribble the pressure and then find a pass forward. He is a press resistant midfielder. Because he has very good strength when on the ball, he is able to outmuscle smaller defenders, like Porto’s midfielders, when they are defending him side by side. He usually receives the ball very close to where the centre backs are and he tries to find a defence-splitting pass or switch the field.
Off the ball, Ndomebele is a liability for Lyon. A lot of time, Caqueret had to move closer to where Ndombele was to help him defend because defending is one of Ndombele’s weaknesses. He doesn’t have the anticipation to try and intercept passes, he always gets played around with a simple 1-2 or is able to be dribbled. Ndombele always dives at the ball when defending making him liable to a quick midfielder to dribble him. Sometimes this worked in the game as the player with the ball didn’t expect him to defend that way. His weak physical profile doesn’t help either. Ndombele is not quick, agile, or able to read the game that well. Players are able to survive without the first two traits, as Busquets does. But Ndombele has no special ability to read the game well which makes him slow to close space down and slow on the transition. Lyon wasn’t exposed by this because of the hard work of Caqueret, who covered ground for Ndombele.
I don’t think Ndombele will be able to progress his career without a major physical change or if he is able to read the game very well. Those take time to happen and I think, when he returns to the premier league, he will be benched for midfielders with better defending than him.