Marseille vs Monaco, FT 3-3
[Ligue 1, 29/11/2015]
The match was summed up in the post-match pitch-side interviews, both of which the interviewer started by calling the match ‘completely mad’. A draw probably a fair result, neither side playing well and most of the goals featuring a degree of bizarre hilarity. Marseille could have entered the top half of the table with a win, but instead managed to concede 3 goals to Monaco full-backs.
Three of the centre-backs played for the entire match, N’Koulou and Rekik for Marseille (Rekik substituted in the 73rd minute, with Isla dropping back from midfield), and Wallace and Raggi for Monaco.
The first twenty minutes of the match were particularly slow, both in terms of general play and how much work the central defenders on each team had to do. Despite this, two goals managed to be scored, Marseille’s from some pinball in the box and Monaco’s from a free-kick, the entire Marseille team seeming to stop leaving Monaco’s right-back, Touré, to tap in.
No centre-back particularly excelled in the first half hour or so, and the match only really got going sometime after Marseille should have been given a penalty for a foul on star striker Michy Batshuayi which, briefly, seemed as if he may have been injured. With some more attacking movement, it became clear that the Monaco centre-backs would struggle against an incisive side in better form than their opponents, Wallace particularly losing runs behind him quite often.
Rekik, who hadn’t been having a great game for Marseille anyway, had a moment he will want to forget for Monaco’s second in the 39th minute, looking like a combination of two footballing sayings, ‘a fire engine on the way to the wrong fire’ and ‘Bambi on ice’. He slipped as Touré (yes, the right-back) cut inside him after a run from his own half, but even without the slip he didn’t look in control of his feet. Elsewhere, he had earlier done badly on the ball under some pressure, taking the ball out for a throw-in rather pathetically, and occasionally looking unaware of movement out of his direct line of sight.
It could be argued that N’Koulou could have prevented Monaco’s second had he been better positioned as the move developed, as he would have been closer to Touré before he takes the shot (that shouldn’t really have beaten Mandanda at his near post).
As Touré moves into the box, I would have been more comfortable with N’Koulou being a yard or so to his right and in front of him (as he faces his goal), as if he was covering the player who passed it to Touré in the first place, as there’s no real reason for him to drift his run away from goal. He’s possibly moving across in case of a cross, but he doesn’t really seem aware of the back post runner so this kind of seems unlikely to be intentional.
Generally, he was better than Rekik (which, really, you could almost do just by turning up to training with an ability to jog and a working knowledge of the offside rule). In fairness to the Marseille man, he came off after telling the bench that he had something in his eye, though whether this was a true story or just an instance of macho “nah, I didn’t screw up, it was something else that wasn’t my fault, yeah so what if I missed the penalty, I’ve got a dodgy hamstring innit” syndrome remains to be seen.
N’Koulou’s awareness wasn’t perfect, occasionally unaware of runs that were made behind him yet unexploited and there was one moment early in the second half when a rash failed interception almost left his team exposed. However, he was just generally more of a competent defender (partly due to slipping significantly less at vital moments) and helped to direct his partner at times.
Marseille’s second came in the 51st minute from a corner, the Monaco keeper fumbling, Michy Batshuayi seemingly in a near-invisible stealth mode that the other Bats would be proud of, able to poke the ball home. Neither Monaco centre-back, nor the team as a whole, will be pleased with their work here, caught out by a short corner, with Raggi standing just a yard away from Michy for the entire time, though leaving him unmarked.
While Wallace more generally did not have a good match, Raggi was noticeably better. By no means perfect, he was at least aware of many of the runs that Michy Batshuayi (primarily) was making around him, and also did some important work helping to direct the Monaco back line.
Despite this, he may have been able to prevent Marseille’s final equaliser, Coentrão having put Monaco ahead again in the 72nd minute, though this is perhaps being a little harsh on him, though probably no more so than what was asked of N’Koulou for Monaco’s 1st.
Like N’Koulou, Raggi possibly should have been a little deeper in his positioning, rather jogging back in this later stage of the game. He would then have been in a better position to maybe be able to cut out the scuffed shot across the six yard box.
Were Raggi aware of what was going on at the other side of the box he probably would not have started jogging back. Part of his wonderful reaction to the goal (below) is probably annoyance at himself.
Mohamed Mohamed summed the match up well
I know 6 goals in a match is fun but Marseille/Monaco hasn’t been a great advert for French Football. The quality has been terrible
— Mohamed Mohamed (@MoeSquare) November 29, 2015
Similar can be said for the defending from the two teams’ centre-backs, largely in their awareness, but also in some positioning and decision-making. Rekik was stand-out bad, but also, when watching closer, was Wallace. N’Koulou looked a little like he would be a better player with a step upwards in quality of competition and coaching, but Raggi showed his experience to be the only CB in the match to look something approaching convincing.
ETNAR centre-back of the match: Andrea Raggi