HSC Montpellier – FCF Juvisy Esonne 0:0

Situation:
In general the situation wasnt much different from the preview of the first match of he season between them. The picture has shifted only slightly. Again – like a year ago – Montpellier sat in a good position. After a victory over PSG a few weeks ago but mainly because PSG was also handed a deduction of 4 points from the FFF after incorrect data was submitted in the official form of a league match they won. So this was like a premature final for MHSC with all the other teams still usually not that much of a threat. Given Montpellier and PSG would get the same result out of their Lyon matches and the Paris judgement would be confirmed a victory would nearly seal second spot and CL participation next season.
However the injury of Sofia Jakobsson a few days ago was a major blow to their bid. Jakobsson having had a very successful season so far leading the scorer list in D1 feminine in front of players like Hegerberg and LeSommer and thus was instrumental in their good run.
For Juvisy there was nothing left to get from this rather disappointing season than to enjoy their last few competitive matches against what since 2 years now seem to be the 3 frontrunners with Juvisy being only a distant 4th.

Not the end but the final lost?
After the late win against PSG in their last home match there was no happy end this time around for Montpellier despite they upped their efforts towards the end and tried to get all three points especially in the final 15 minutes. But this was too late and too little to avoid the draw. That leaves them with what might be 2 crucial points gone missing in their possibly last defining match of the season already. – And thus behind PSG now again in 3rd place. If they manage to get the victories they need until the end.

What happened on the pitch
We could nearly again make a copy here of the first match report only without the goals.
It just again didnt happen that much to focus on. The timeline of events was rather accidental. All was dominated by the epic gritty battle in midfield to prevent the opponents offense. And it became clear very early on. The wind was quite heavy again but not as strong as during the match against PSG some weeks ago. Still the side with support of the wind was always the one on the frontfoot. First half Juvisy – Second half Montpellier.
But the match saw mainly the midfield areas as the battle ground. Rarely the ball went into the box on either side. Mostly this was the case only after set pieces. Interestingly when the ball was successfully brought into the box out of open play it was very likely to be a decent scoring opportunity. That was probably because it meant that the very stable and dense defensive wall in front of the box on either side had successfully been passed and thus the way opened for chances in front of goal. In the first half Bilbauts shot after she chested down the wide cross from Thiney was the most skilful crafted chance. But her shot was not easy to take and too central. Diani might have had the biggest chance with an much easier shot from a few yards but also couldnt get the direction right. After the break there was one fine save from Philippe after a shot from Thiney from the edge of the box. And Blackstenius could be denied by quick defending when she looked to be in a good position. And Montpelliers corners always meant danger especially with the wind driving the ball towards goal.

But this were the few highlights of just not enough highlights and engagement of both sides. Not only the battle for midfield counts. There was lot of fight. But Juvisy had absolutely nothing to lose. Just a few nice opponents left to enjoy your football and give it all and show your skills to the spectators. Chance missed in favour of building a wall.

At least in the first half Camille Catala seemed to be most interested in enjoying to play a football game when her side was in possession of the ball and used the chance to create something. But apart from that the defensive orders and keeping your defence formation intact played the overwhelmingly main role.
With her as a wing midfielder and on the other side Kandiatou Diani also as a midfielder they were much more investing up front than the HSCM side where a lonely Blackstenius up front was supported much too lenient and slow from a midfield line that was mostly filled with defensive players and – surprising to me – Marie-Charlotte Leger in the starting line up but in a very deep role as well.
And so it was Juvisy who had the far better chances and should have taken the lead on a few occasions…

Montpellier though realised they had to bring their midfield further up the pitch and with the support of the wind and the change from holding minded midfielder Anouk Dekker to the much more offensive oriented LeBihan gained the majority of possession at least in the second half pushing Juvisy back.
That however still wasnt enough to create a lot of situations inside the box but mainly shifted the midfield battle from being predominantly in the half of Montpellier more into the half of Juvisy.

But chances still came mainly from set pieces and when Cayman missed a last late opportunity in stoppage time it nearly was the best one not resulting from a set piece. She first won a duel in the Juvisy box but then tiredly took the shot and sent it wide while some team mates wanted the pass in promising positions.

So 0:0 it ended and so with 0 might also end the dreams of Montpellier this season to make second place …

Tactics

D1F Montpellier HSC-FCF Juvisy
starting line-ups

Both teams played pretty much the classic back line of 4. Montpellier with Torrent – Agard – Sembrandt – Karchaoui. Torechilla the most defensive midfielder. But adding Dekker and Toletti made it look like a triple-6 more than anything else despite they sometimes got a little bit further up. Cayman and Leger probably should have supported the flanks in offense. And Blackstenius in the most advanced position rather lonely.

Juvisy played the back line with Soyer – Tounkara – Cascarino – Greboval. Bilbaut and Butel holding midfielders. Catala left and Diani on the right side. Thiney more advanced and Matteo in front of her. Matteo and Catala switching at times.

In the second half Montpellier started to risk a little bit more by adding LeBihan in midfield further up the pitch for Dekker and thus stepping away from the triple-6. – However it seemed still not enough even with the wind in support.

It was a nice example though how tactics are changing when tweaks appear and how important slight differences can be. At first sight with Blackstenius up front for Jakobsson there seemed to be similarities in that both like to threaten by running into open spaces. Thus they prefer long balls rather than get passes into their feet to first stop and then work out something with it at their feet. However it showed here how different they are on detail. Jakobsson likes to chase balls even from a bad position and makes sure the defenders have no easy clearance by putting them under pressure or even winning lost balls back immediately. Blackstenius however in a lost position doesnt like to chase the defender down at all. She is much more looking to position herself in a clever way to be able to directly threat the goal with a through ball. Then she can use her physical strength to prevent the opponent from interfering and she can focus on a good finish. Usually for that same reason for example Jakobsson is used in other teams as wing player assisting goal scoring whereas Blackstenius is a center forward mostly having assists to her name as by-product if a chance cant be converted immediately. In this match that resulted in lots of losses of ball possession for Montpellier when they tried to play long balls into Blackstenius the same way they were used to with Jakobsson. Juvisy this way got seemingly around 10 easy overturns where Jakobsson could have secured possession or force Juvisy to only clear a ball out of bounds. But it got better during the game.

Summary and Resume

The main short term consequence of the result is that Montpellier now have handed over a pretty similar chance to Paris Saint-Germain. It looks as if a win against Juvisy would secure second spot (at least) for PSG while MHSC has to hope for Juvisy (or another team?) now to be supportive and steal points from PSG. At least they have to make sure they are there should PSG give anything away.

For the future a side with Butel Bilbaut Catala Thiney and Diani – all (?) actual French internationals in 5 of the 6 offensive positions (and Matteo from the U20-team) should be able to do much much better and tackle Lyon and PSG. At least their reputation exceeds the offense of MHSC for example. But they have to find a better way to make their individual skills count.

For Montpellier (and Juvisy also) a crucial point is to keep or to add talent to their team. Adding Blackstenius and Cayman in the winter was a very good step in this direction. Interesting whether PSG and OL will keep their huge squads with the substitutes being paid so much that they prefer to stay or whether sooner or later top players will leave. And there are huge talents available also for smaller wages from all over Europe. Big players are also surplus in Wolfsburg and Munich and elsewhere in the Bundesliga as well as with the big clubs in England. The Swiss. Italians. Portuguese. Remember they once got Jakobsson from a Bundesliga relegated Cloppenburg side.

Big question is whether Karchaoui is staying with Montpellier who has developed extremely well over the last 12 months. Might be a lucky incident that OL and PSG are already having huge left backs. but if so they should make her the central point of their game. Either in putting her into a playmaker role in central midfield or trying to kind of replace the absent Jakobsson as key player up front. Like Jakobsson she is the only player in their roster who can take on even 2-3 defenders of the top teams successfully whereas most of the others would have more or less only slim chances even when going 1 on 1 against top players.

Player of the match: Anaig Butel

This was unfortunately another match of the kind: It had to be anybody rather than pity it can be only one. No offensive player had a chance to be chosen here. And in midfield all worked well to deny the opponents. It was a tight midfield grid where everyone earned their fair share without huge differences. The wings were closed down. The center players always there in time. Karchaoui still with the most offensive actions from all defensive players despite also well defended from Diani most of the time. But not effective enough for Montpellier at the end. So when midfield play comes down to mainly fight defensive battles Anaig Butel is always a big factor and difficult to beat though she also couldnt initiate any useful attacks. But that wasnt her main task and the defensive midfield worked out well for Juvisy.

Player Ratings:

FCF Juvisy Esonnes

Deville: 6
Not always on top. But when needed

Greboval: 6
Ok in defense with no big challenges

Cascarino: 6.5
Solid and engaged. Sometimes risking foul play too much

Tounkara: 6.5
Good athlet to win the duels. Still to polish the football skills

Soyer: 6.5
Solid without sparkle.

Butel: 7
Good midfield fight. Could there be more

Bilbaut: 6.5
Also solid in midfield

Mateo: 6
Not too much impact but very lonesome

Thiney: 6.5
ok in midfield battling. But not her preferred style

Diani: 6
Again with low impact mainly ok helping the defense

Catala: 7
Most lively offensive player in a white jersey


Montpellier HSC:

Philippe: 6.5
Mostly there when asked

Torrent: 7
Strong in duels.

Agard: 6.5
Smart positioning and solid performance

Sembrandt: 6.5
Solid. Good positioning as always

Karchaoui: 7.5
Winner at the end against Diani after initial problems.

Dekker: 6.5
Solid in defense but no effect in offense

Toletti: 6.5
Also solid in midfield

Torecilla: 6
Solid holding her ground

Leger: 6
Seemed lonesome in offense Also solid fighter but also not too much effect for the offense

Cayman: 6.5
Most active offensive player from MHSC but also no result

Blackstenius: 5.5
Powerful and pressing forward but unlucky when the chance was there.


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