An overview of the first third of the season
With their 0-0 draw away to Montpellier last Friday, Le Gym wrapped up the opening third of their league campaign. So, let’s take a look at the stats from the team’s opening 12 games.
LE GYM REMAIN UNBEATEN
Not only do Les Aiglons sit second in the Ligue 1 table with a third of the season played, but they’re also the only team to still be unbeaten in the current top-flight campaign, with Francesco Farioli’s men having won seven and drawn five of their 12 matches so far.
Away to Montpellier, Les Rouge et Noir also pulled off the considerable achievement of not having trailed at any point in their first 12 league fixtures, thereby equalling Les Girondins de Bordeaux’s 1984/1985 record in this respect.
In terms of their opponents so far, Le Gym have already faced half of the current top ten, notching up wins away to Paris Saint-Germain (3-2 on Matchday 5) and Monaco (1-0 on Matchday 6) as well as at home to Marseille (1-0 on Matchday 9), plus draws with Lille (1-1 on Matchday 1) and with Brest (0-0 on Matchday 7).
a steely defence
Le Gym have been able to rely on an extremely solid backline so far this season, as they currently possess the best defence in Ligue 1, with just four goals conceded in 12 games (five fewer than PSG). Thanks to this feat, Dante and co. are following in the footsteps of 2013/2014-era Lille OSC, who are the only side to have let in so few goals at this stage of a French top-flight season in the 21st century.
Marcin Bułka and his defensive partners have earned themselves a total of nine clean sheets so far in 2023/2024, including an ongoing run of seven straight games without conceding a goal since Kylian Mbappé scored past the Polish keeper back on 15th September. Across Europe’s top five leagues, only Juventus FC had been able to match this run… until last weekend, that is, when Serie A’s current second-placed side saw Alberto Dossena find the back of their net in their 2-1 win over Cagliari Calcio.
AN ATTACK THAT HAS GONE UNREWARDED
With 13 goals scored in their opening 12 games, Le Gym have found things slightly harder in attack than in defence, but that isn’t to say that they’ve completely neglected their forward line. Certain indicators highlight a key factor: the team can put together dangerous attacks, but they lack a little efficiency in their final ball. This is proven by the fact that Francesco Farioli’s men currently possess the fifth-highest xG (expected goals) in Ligue 1 but sit just ninth in the rankings for actual goals scored. In addition, Nice’s attackers have taken 163 shots so far, the sixth-highest total in the French top flight and another sign of their willingness to get in and around opposition penalty areas.
With a third of the season played, Le Gym boast six different goalscorers, with Terem Moffi leading the way on three goals, followed by Gaëtan Laborde, Evann Guessand, Hicham Boudaoui and Jérémie Boga on two goals each and Youcef Atal just behind them on one, thanks to his strike in the 2-0 win over Strasbourg on Matchday 4.
BUŁKA AND DANTE GET THE MOST USAGE
For the time being, Francesco Farioli has called upon 22 different players, but six of them stand out in terms of their amount of game time, and just two have featured for the entirety of Le Gym’s 12 games so far this season: goalkeeper Marcin Bułka and 40-year-old captain Dante, who have both played 1,080 minutes since kick-off on the opening day.
With 1,001 minutes under his belt, left-back Melvin Bard has enjoyed the third-largest amount of game time, having started every game so far and played the full 90’ in seven of them. Not far behind him, we find Youssouf Ndayishimiye, who, as the metaphorical compass in Nice’s play, has missed just one fixture: last Friday’s game against Montpellier, for which he was suspended. With 975 minutes played, the Burundian sits ahead of Jean-Clair Todibo, who missed the Matchday 2 trip to Lorient but has racked up 968 minutes across 11 games, and Gaëtan Laborde, who has played 868 minutes across 12 games.
individual honours aplenty
Le Gym’s exceptional start to the season has also been marked by a series of individual honours. In September, the aforementioned Bułka became the fourth Nice player to take home a UNFP Player of the Month award, beating teammate Terem Moffi in the voting. The Rouge et Noir shot-stopper was also voted as August’s and September’s Aiglon of the Month by the team’s fans as a sign of recognition for his remarkable displays, which include two penalty saves in the 1-0 win away to Monaco on Matchday 6. Defensive rock Jean-Clair Todibo, meanwhile, succeeded him in October.
Hugo Rondet, avec Opta