Olympique Gymnaste Club de Nice-Côte d’Azur
Squad list for Lyon:
Gardiens: Letizi, Ospina
Défenseurs: Apam, Diakité, Hognon, Jeunechamp, Kanté, Rool
Milieux: Coulibaly, Echouafni, Faé, Hellebuyck, Sablé, Traoré
Attaquants: Adeilson, Bamogo, Ben Saada, Rémy
Choix de l’entraîneur: Barul, Moussilou, Ozokwo, J.Moreau, Modeste, Mouloungui, Cid, K.Adu, Quansah
As promised, Antonetti is ringing the changes (as much as he can, without a particularly large squad): Modeste and Mouloungui have been left out entirely, and in his meeting with the press yesterday, Anto made pretty strong hints at both Ben Saada (Hooray!) and Adeilson, the latter perhaps not from the start but definitely likely to figure as a sub.
Before the match, Eder and Lloris will reportedly both be getting bouquets and much love; fingers crossed that after that they’ll at least have to work for the joy.
Many streams — oh, the power of Lyon — are here.
Putting aside the grim and heartbreaking realities that a)Nice, for the most part, have failed to show the necessary commitment for two of the last three matches, and b)Cyril #1 hit the bar with the PK that very likely represented his (and the rest of Nice’s old people’s) last chance ever to play in the Stade de France, Ben Saada’s goal was gorgeous, and is only going to make me talk more about how he needs to get a run in the side to show what he can do. Yes, he’s scrawny and not as consistent as he should be, but apart from Rémy, Nice have no one else who can change a game like Ben Saada can. Period. He can do magical things, whether with smart little touches (Exhibit A) or with determination and skill, when the team are dying for someone to step up (Exhibit B is above).
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It’s fascinating to see how Antonetti’s is reacting to the loss, and how it’s affecting his approach to the Lyon match. Rather than doing what you might expect and downplaying the Vannes result as “just another loss,” and something that the team are already beyond, he immediately described it as something that could lead to a crisis (his word, not mine), and then, today, at the same time that he lamented the early non-PK call in the Vannes match and the damage it did, he also said Nice’s challenge going into the Lyon match is “To manage [the Vannes] failure. It takes great courage, great sacrifice. This will not be simple.”
In my experience, that’s a pretty unusual approach for a head coach to take after a devastating loss, and heading into a match against the league leaders, no matter what sort of form the leaders are in. Yes, Antonetti’s defending his team against the Great They in the media, but he’s also basically daring them to step up take some responsibility for their season, and the direction it’s been going to last two months. Me, I love it. I just hope they’re able to respond because, results aside, it’s going to be very, very hard for them to get their confidence back if Sunday’s is another bad performance.
[In other news, the team are under threat of disciplinary action because of the behavior of supporters during the Vannes match, and could find themselves playing a match behind closed doors following the Disciplinary Committee's meeting on the 19th. Man, and throwing stuff seemed like a such a good idea at the time, too.]
For once, I’m happy that there doesn’t seem to be any way to watch this match — the official site has wisely decided not to upload it, and I’ve not seen it anywhere else. When the atmosphere is being described as resembling that of a friendly and even Nice players are admitting they didn’t show up, you know things were really dire.
It sounds like Monaco absolutely dominate the match and, had their finishing been a little sharper, could easily have won by three or four, rather than waiting until the 85th minute to go ahead. The silver lining, obviously (well, apart from Adeilson making his first appearance for Nice, if four minutes count), is that Nice can now focus on the League and the CDL — now, they just need to make sure they win that semifinal in eight days, and all will be forgiven.
The only other news I’ve got today is that Nice have reportedly rejected a Panathinaikos offer of between €700,000 and €1,000,000 for Kanté and, according to Ricort, won’t sell him for even €5 million. At least, you know, not right now. He claims they’re planning to start talks on an extension “very soon” but, given the way Kanté was talking at the start of the season, I won’t be holding my breath for a new contract to result.
I don’t know if it’s a good omen or a sign that I’ve lost my mind entirely, but I just caught myself singing “Nice allez” out loud in the shower. (If nothing else, it’s reason #2104 it’s best for everyone that I live alone.)
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Gardiens: Letizi, Ospina
Défenseurs: Cid, Diakité, Hognon, Jeunechamp, Kanté
Milieux: Coulibaly, Echouafni, Hellebuyck, Sablé, Traoré
Attaquants: Adeilson, Bamogo, Ben Saada, Modeste, Mouloungui, Rémy
Cyril #1, Faé and Apam have all been left out to keep them getting cards and missing the CdL semifinal, while Quansah and Adu are off on youth NT duty in the Junior African Cup of Nations. Assuming Antonetti will try to save some legs for the weekend, we could well see at least Sablé from the start. Adeilson’s presence in the team is a bit of surprise, given his fitness concerns — we’ll see if he ends up playing a part or not. (Monaco’s team is here.)
I’ll edit this to add a link to streams tomorrow, if there are any. Meantime, here’s a short pregame interview with Hellebuyck for you.
[First, I apologize for the infrequency of updates here -- I'm just too busy right now to give Nice the attention they deserve, but I'll do my best to post once or twice a week with the big news, such as it is.]
This week, that news is the arrival of defensive mid Julien Sablé (presentation video above) from Lens on a three-and-a-half year contract. He’s not young (28), but he’s tough as hell, and has a great relationship with Antonetti from their time together at ASSE, where he was captain for many years. And, even more importantly, after sitting on his butt in Lens for the past 18 months, he’s excited to prove himself, and make a difference at Nice (or, it sounds like, anywhere Antonetti happens to be hanging out).
I confess that I knew nothing about Sablé until his name started appearing in rumors last month, but reading through the forums, this move is getting a really positive reaction, primarily because of what a warrior he was at ASSE. Immediately, his main role will probably be slotting into the team for Cup matches as Nice try to survive in three competitions, but it’s generally accepted that, longer term, he’ll replace the ageless Chouf, when he either hangs it up, or physically isn’t able to keep himself in the first XI anymore (next season?).
Two pretty promising pick-ups in the winter transfer window isn’t bad at all, particularly given the prices involved (Sablé’s hasn’t been revealed, but there’s no way he cost much, considering how little-used he’s been at Lens.) — full marks to Mr. Ricort, and bonus points for the misdirection about the team’s total lack of interest in Sablé.
Two day to the (Cup) derby! I’ll try to at least post the squad list when it goes up.
Report coming tomorrow, as soon as I watch the match, and my soul has time to recover from poor Modeste’s awful miss.
I won’t bore you with a long report on the Le Havre match, but I watched it this morning and, in general, was pretty impressed. Nice dominated the first half, thanks in part to a massive performance by Faé, and Modeste played the best 45 minutes I’ve ever seen out of him — he was trying all sorts of things he usually won’t even consider, and most of them were coming off, including a Zlatan-esque backheeled pass for Faé that he took out of the air and played perfectly into space. I’ve said it before and it doesn’t take a genius to recognize it, but confidence is everything to Modeste, and if he can just keep his head right, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. (Hopefully the fact that Antonetti has decided not to send him out on loan will help with that, rather than seem him doomed to a second half spent sitting at the end of the bench, watching Adeilson play.)
Faé faded a lot in the second half, and it’s no coincidence that Nice’s hold on the match did, too — in the 4-3-3, it seems like they really need him to dominate the midfield (which is asking a lot), because if he doesn’t, those middle three end up doing nothing but chasing the ball. Luckily, Hellebuyck is a machine, and Le Havre’s passing in the final third was dreadful, as was most of their shooting, so the ease with which they broke through the midfield on the counter came to nothing.
In addition to Modeste and Faé (for a half), Diakité also had a strong match — it’s rare for him to stand out as much as he did on Tuesday, and it was really nice to see. He got forward well, and made a crucial, sliding intervention in the second half, when a Le Havre player (can’t remember who, sorry) was in alone on goal. In goal, Letizi didn’t have much to do, apart from catch the periodic hopeful cross and watch balls fly over his head, but he earn his pay in the 89th minute with a flying save off a free kick. The old man has still got skills to go with his class — Nice really are lucky to have him.
Also, Kanté is a beast, but we knew that already. It would be awful to lose him, particularly with more teams circling Apam every day.
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In scheduling news:
•The draw for the semis was held today, and Nice get to play at home again. Woo hoo! Vannes will come calling February 3rd or 4th.
•The Nancy match has been rescheduled for February 17th, after the trip to Le Mans.
Doesn’t matter how late the goal [video here] came or who the opponent was — what matters is that Nice are into the semis. Hell yes.
(Report when I can find and watch the match, probably Thursday.)
Frozen pitch. Both coaches and captains agreed with the referee that it would be dangerous to play, so everyone went home.
With the CdL match against Le Havre on Tuesday, this one’s going to have to be rescheduled for a later date rather than just pushed back to Sunday. (Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Rescheduling the Nancy Match.)