Entering this game on a three-win streak, l’OM came into a game with confidence, looking to win in front of a crowded Stade Vélodrome. Facing a stiff opponent, OM was forced to come back twice to earn a draw.
Montpellier, a young team coming off of a 4-2 win in Lyon, responded to OM’s possession-based style with effective counter-attacks and strong defensive play. Despite dominating the game early, Montpellier was able to grab a quick goal in the 32nd minute, when Boudebouz slotted Ninga behind Nkoulou for an easy finish. Cabella equalized in the 47th minute with a quick shot from 12 meters out, after a cross from the right flank. Ninga, capitalizing off of a Rekik error, slotted Mandanda yet again in the 56th minute. Luckily, Bouna Sarr, off the bench, scored on an open goal after a cross from Nkoudou (whose cross should have been called out of bounds). Let’s look at each sector of the team, and their performance.
Mandanda had a solid game, but was caught in no man’s land on the two goals. Failing to charge off the line, he couldn’t react properly to the shots. Dja Djédjé had a decent game, offering defensive stops and several crosses, though most of his crosses were unsuccessful. Where Dja Djédjé really made a difference was getting in behind the Montpellier defense to send in crosses. Nkoulou had a strong game, offering interceptions and strong tackles, but was beaten for speed on Ninga’s first goal. Rekik covered effectively and had was helping shut down most of the Montpellier offensives, but gifted Ninga his second goal when his clearance popped directly to the striker. Manquilo was strong defensively, but failed to offer any offense, leading to his substitution at halftime for Mendy. Mendy finally had a strong performance, pushing forward often and showing his classic swinging crosses.
Isla had a strong game, getting involved in the offense more than usual, while providing his typical defensive stance. Romao offered defensive support, but was not effective offensively, failing to get the ball very often. Cabella scored a goal and displayed his spectacular dribbling technique, though he did lose the ball often. Bouna Sarr, replacing Romao at the half, was extremely effective, providing speed in the midfield and scoring the second goal to tie the game.
Barrada, positioned on the right flank, offered a lot of crosses and piercing passes, showing a lot of effort and accuracy. Nkoudou, having a quiet first half, offered piercing runs and an assist in the second half. Batshuayi had a tough game, failing to create many opportunities and missing a good opportunity in the first 10 minutes of the game. A tough game for the Belgian, who has been playing in every game for 90 minutes. L’OM will need to preserve him for the future, and must seek a replacement during the winter.
Goal by Bouna Sarr in the 72nd minute. Images courtesy of @PierrePerez0 on Twitter.
Mandanda – 5.5/10
Dja Djédjé – 5/10
Nkoulou – 5/10
Rekik – 4/10
Manquilo – 4/10
Mendy – 5.5/10
Isla – 5.5/10
Romao – 4/10
Sarr – 6/10
Cabella – 5.5/10
Barrada – 5.5/10
Bathuayi – 2.5/10