D1: FCF Juvisy Esonne – HSC Montpellier 1:2 (0:1)

Since years the ever same situation in France has been more or less as gripping as watching a glass of water evaporating in the sun. Last season was one of the tightest though. At least half a year Montpellier HSC could shake up the old order Lyon – PSG on 1 and 2 until the winter. Only to see them rather fading away in the second half. But Montpellier was also again off to a good start this season so far having not yet conceded a goal. FCF Juvisy Esonne on the other side with a rather shocking initial loss to Guingamp. However the main question of this match remains the same like the years before: who from these two here sitting in third and fourth also what feels already since 20 years would be the main challenger.

Headline: still getting tighter
but still work to do. Tighter between these two and to the big guns. The match was individually quite on a good level. It lacked some fluidity however because both teams focussed on pressing each other quite well. The margins could be close enough now for both to threaten the top teams based on the individual class of the players. And that individual class has been the main gap for all those years where they have had no chance. But is that still the case anymore? We will have to wait and see. But we have already seen that a back line with Linda Sembrandt can go much further than the one with Wendy Renard and Griedge MBock (though she still isnt the best individual of the three) for example. And that was not because there was an astonishing offensive power lined up in front of Sembrandt.

Speaking of offensive power. The match wasnt very gripping because it missed scenes not only in the boxes but even so close to both boxes. It was a tough battle in midfield though and very intense. But to have an advantage over the top duo there will still be more compactness needed. Maybe the main point they need to improve on. But lets have a short look

What happened on the pitch

Really a short view it needs here like very view matches need. Because it just didnt happen that much to talk about the timeline of the events. And the game also had no big twists and turns. Even the goals – sometimes remarkable changing points in a game – didnt seem to have much influence on the eternal fight for the upper hand in midfield. That this fight was never during the 90 minutes won by any side was one of the major problems they might face against the big guns. There they cant afford to give the ball away with creating that low level of danger up front. The passing has to be much more crisp to play the way into the opponents danger zones. Or they have to go more direct forward traying to get behind the opponents back line with their passes. Releasing Jakobsson as Montpellier did some time ago for example what threatened even Lyons back line much more than what they achieved here against Juvisy in 90 minutes.

Here it wasnt too difficult for the back lines to stop the attacks far before any danger could be smelled. Seeing finally three goals on the scoresheet doesnt really reflect the proceedings. It was nearly every chance a goal. The only free kick from a half way decent position was converted. As well as the first time when Montpellier have been able to pass their way into the opposite box. Or to put it the other way round. The efficiency from Montpellier in using their chances was very good. But it will be hardly possible to keep that at such a standard.

The free kick for Montpellier was only the first half decent opportunity of the match. It seemed nearly also one of the first times that the match in open play came as close as 22m to the goal. A good position. But still not easy. However you need only to get the direction of the free corner right when the goalie speculates the ball isnt getting there – and thus looks stranded when the ball is getting there. 0:1 after 29 minutes. The only shot on goal in first half except from corner kicks? At least nothing dangerous.

So that 0:1 was still how the second half started but only for less than five minutes. Because with the first pass to a forward into the box (hard working Tonazzi to Jakobsson, who had reinvented her old goalgetter instincts) it was 0:2 and that was the first real changing point. Juvisy was hit and needed to recover. Montpellier grew in confidence. And as long as the 2 goal deficit stood and the longer the time went on you saw Montpellier knew this was it. Catalas chance around the hour mark was the closest Juvisy should get. You never knew though because the game still was close enough to swing in another direction once Juvisy would have scored. But this wasnt to be until deep in stoppage time. The following kick off then was the last action and Motpellier got a deserved win. They mostly looked the slightly more energized and slightly more determined side.


tactical line-up

Both played a rather similar system. Montpellier started with a back line of 4 Toletti – Agard – Sembrandt – Karchaoui. Decker and mostly Toletti the more defensive midfielders. Leger more on the left, Jakobsson more on the right and more looking to support the offense. And Tonazzi mostly on the most advanced position but falling back to support the defense and switching positions very flexibly. LeBihan also rather advanced.
Juvisy played in the back line with Soyer – Tounkara – Dusang – Graboval. Bilbaut and Butel holding midfielders. Mateo left and Diani on the right side. And Thiny and Catala in front of her with a lot of freedom to work everywhere in the attack. They changed roles not quite as often. However Diani again didnt change anything at all was well defended by Karchaoui most of the time and thus couldnt add as much as possible to the offensive play of Juvisy.

Both sides played a style that has become kind of the latest trend up front. Mixing up positions very frequently and flexibly. The upmost player often hanging back deep in midfield to support the own defense and different players filling up this role then in the meantime. Might be not a bad thing at the moment for some teams.
But the main difference was the style of play from the wing backs. Karchaoui and especially Torrent always in support and available for their team mates when going forward. That was much less and only occasionally on the other side from Soyer and Greboval.

Both teams however had also a strong focus on being back fast enough to prevent their opponent. Thus there was rarely room for a lot of chances. In fact Juvisy only was able to create one half decent chance for Catala the whole game long until the (too) late consolation.

Summary and Resume
First difficult test successful for Montpellier. But Juvisy didnt look that bad at all. A draw was well available for them. However two things are paramount. There is this little step that most players are able to step up. That fraction of a second that Montpellier often seemed to be faster in anticipation of what to do next. But the margin was so narrow that simply having a good day or bad day might switch it. The other problem was that Gaetane Thiney wasnt able to create any special situation for them. That is very much needed in the team of Juvisy – or that somebody else is able to step in. And another player who should be more instrumental was again the opposite. When Karchaoui is able to take out Diani then Majri and (hopefully soon again) Boulleau are also. Diani however could and should be used as a similar free agent counter forward as for example Jakobsson 1-2 years ago instead of only sticking to the sideline where her contribution was very low. A typical example of a subpar setup where the team is only as good as the eleven parts.
Montpellier again off to a good start and the first difficult test passed. Might be enough already when they can keep up that level all season as it is again very close to the top. However there would be huge improvements possible up front when they could use the strength of their players better to get behind the opponent more directly rather than trying to combine and play through the back lines. A good day. The self-belief. And a little bit of good luck. But mainly a little bit more polish in team tactics. And either of them could beat the top two.

Player of the match: Torrent

That was not easy. Both back lines including the defensive midfielders played well and didnt allow their opponents too much. Yet Montpellier looked the slightly more stable one in preventing a break through. The forward oriented players had the much more difficult task and it was much more difficult to shine. Nevertheless they worked hard and supported their defense well. Tonazzi might have been the best example for that. From the Monpellier back line the center was very good in positioning to prevent any play through towards goal. Karchaoui did very well to deny Diani and didnt allow dangerous attacks on her wing and found time to suport the offense. However Torrent on the other side did that even a little bit more especially in the second half.

Player Ratings:

FCF Juvisy Esonnes

Deville: 6
Its the goalies corner. Mostly Ok apart from that

Greboval: 6
Ok in defense

Dusang: 6.5
Also solid and lively

Tounkara: 7
Good athletics to win the duels. Still to polish the football skills

Soyer: 6.5
one of those who made the difference.

Butel: 7
Good midfield fight. But there could be more

Bilbaut: 6.5
Also solid in midfield

Mateo: 6
Good player with not enough impact especially after the break

Thiney: 6
Not her best day and then nobody able to compensate for this

Diani: 6
Like often an additional add-on far away from the team on the side. In defense ok

Catala: 7
Most lively forward in white and a strange substitution

Montpellier HSC:

Philippe: 7
Mostly there when asked

Torrent: 8
Driving force

Agard: 7
A little bit unsettled after her mistake. Very solid before

Sembrandt: 7.5
Solid. Smart positioning as always

Karchaoui: 7.5
Strong against Diani. Also going forward.

Dekker: 6.5
Solid in defense

Toletti: 6.5
Also solid in midfield

Leger: 6
Great work rate but not so much effect up front

LeBihan: 6
Also solid fighter but also not too much effect for the offense

Jakobsson: 6.5
Solid work rate. And always looking to get into dangerous zones. still needs more

Tonazzi: 7
Always looking to take initiative.

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