October 4, 2017
10 weeks, one life...
The international break traditionally offers the opportunity to take to pieces the first weeks of competitions. Extremely busy, these first weeks of the 2017/18 season seem richer than ever. On several levels. Here’s a summary.
26 July marked the official start of the Red and Black’s season. And what a start! Returning to training earlier than usual, the Aiglons prepared themselves throughout the summer for a double header which was meant to dictate the rest of their season. With Ajax, the meeting very quickly took on a heady feel. The Aiglons would come out of the encounters victorious and attacked, from then on, a real marathon.
Two battles against Napoli to get into the Champions League followed. The start of Ligue 1 arrived, then the Europa League got underway in September… In all, they played 14 matches in 61 days, an average of one every four days. Four more than last season at the same time. The contrasting appraisal (5 wins, 3 draws and 6 defeats), embodies the bipolar start that the Gym have had, given that the Gym currently occupy 10th place in L1 and top Group K in the Europa League...
At the start of summer, Lucien Favre kept his faith in the system that had allowed the Aiglons to perform well in the league last season: the 4-2-3-1. The Swiss manager, obsessed by balance and a system “allowing the player to express themselves to the best of their ability”, also tried out a 4-3-3 in friendlies (against Servette and Slavia), before testing a 3-5-2 (often used last season) during the trip to San Paolo. After the defeat against Amiens (0-3), the transfer window closed, and it was a different system that was brought into play: the 4-4-2 (proof that the Swiss coach constantly cogitates, looks to adapt and vary).
This formation was a marvel in September. Benefitting from strong wings (Souquet and St-Maximin on the right, Jallet and Lees-Melou on the left), its success equally depends on the two destroyers as it does on the partnership of the offensive duo. Two strengths of the Gym in September. The second of the two duos was embodied by the partnership between Plea and Balotelli (5 goals each), who complemented each other and were consistent. Despite the defeat at the start of October against Marseille, this change of system coincides with the emergence of a new Red and Black style, direct and vertical.
One outfield player has played in every single minute since the beginning of the season: Arnaud Souquet. Consistent, the right-back has played back-to-back without losing his impact. A constant that is summed up in one stat: since the start of 2017, Souquet hasn’t missed one minute of a game.
The other element of the squad who has played in all games is Yoan Cardinale. After picking up a shoulder injury in pre-season, the goalkeeper marked his return to the side against Ajax and he hasn’t lost his place since. Behind the duo is Pierre Lees-Melou. The former Dijon man has played 703 minutes of L1 football in a Nice shirt. He was also involved in the clashes against Ajax and Napoli, starting in 3 of them.