After a great weekend away in Lille I wanted to put down my thoughts on the two games I watched live and the players that caught my eye.
I don’t think Lille could have asked for a better stadium to play football in, just a magnificent arena. Was also really good to see the atmosphere in the city before the game. Much more life in the town than I had previously experienced. Hope it stays that way.
I have no doubt that Salomon Kalou and Marvin Martin are going to be a great success for LOSC. Martin is settling fine, his awareness on the ball was top notch and will only get better once his understanding with his teammates improves.
Obviously Lille missed Eden Hazard, this was always going to happen, he was the player that got inbetween the lines and helped the whole system flow. A new style is being created and will take a little bit of time, as is with most teams. There is no doubt Garcia is the right manager with the right players to make this work.
I think Nancy will easily finish around mid-table. Scoring goals may be a problem but with Yohan Mollo they always have a chance of creating something from nothing. Defensively they are very well organised and tough to break down. Salif Sane has been a steal and controls that midfield as well if not better than Samba Diakite did. Left-back Haidara is a great prospect at only 19 is easily one of the better left-back’s in Ligue 1.
Valenciennes is an excellent little football town, it’s a shame that they have a lovely 25,000 seater stadium that they will never fill, no through a lack of interest of passion, there just isn’t the fan base, the ultras do a great job in making as much noise as possible and the stadium has been created in such a way to help them as much as possible with a safe standing section. The city has a population of 40,000 so maybe a 10/15,000 stadium would have been better served but 25,000 is right for any future developments and helps host future French internationals or U21 games etc.
In the next 12 months I can really see striker Vincent Aboubakar moving to a bigger club, he had a quiet game due to a lack of service but the quality is there, he could be LOSC’s new Moussa Sow. Loris Nery played well at left-back and he should develop well at the Stade du Hainaut under Daniel Sanchez. I didn’t think much of Abdul Camara, seemed a bit clumsy, has a physical presence and pace but no control of his abilities, he is not the answer to Renaud Cohade who they missed so much.
Nice were poor in the first half, the front two of Franck Dje Djedje and Abrahim Guie Guie were invisible. Eric Bautheac was easily there best player, really active, good on the ball, hard-working, great attitude, excellent move for him to replace Anthony Mounier.
Diacko Fofana came on at half-time and looks a very exciting right-back. Great pace going down the line, looked to get the ball in the box at all times and had a real positive attitude. Only 18 he is definitely one to watch out for.
Another player worth remembering is Alex Bosetti of Nice. He came on with less than 10 minutes to go and looked a very explosive and hunger striker, changed the game a little and Nice actually looked like threatening for the first time in the whole game. Constantly making runs and looking to cause problems. He played a few minutes for France in the u19 European Championships and is possibly why Claude Puel hasn’t rushed out to buy a few strikers this summer.