Sunday, 15 August 2010

Lille 0-0 PSG

Watching paint dry would have been a great laugh compared to this goalless draw. No, in order to replicate the experience I had whilst enduring this encounter in Ligue 1, I think I would have had to projectile vomit onto walls for 90 minutes and watch this dry instead.

When I chose to watch this match I thought that the current holders of the Coupe de France travelling to Lille to play against the team which finished 4th last season would be a fantastic game. Instead the match was one of those where neither team wanted to lose and I started to get the impression neither team wanted to be there (like me in the end).

The start of the match was not helped by the referee who seemed to blow his whistle as often as he exhaled. This stop-start pattern continued for around the first 20 minutes, saw two yellow cards and allowed neither team to get into their natural rhythm.

As the teams eventually settled into their formations we got something interesting to look at. Lille played with a 4-4-2 diamond which was extremely narrow. This though allowed Benia and Debuchy to really push forward and these two players were often seen throughout the game putting crosses into the PSG box from within the attacking third. This, in some games could have left them vulnerable defensively but Erdinç played very high and there wasn't a great connection between him and Hoarau. Furthermore, Mavuba would often come back to defend as part of a make-shift back three and Cabaye is widely regarded as a 'box-to-box' midfielder.

Meanwhile PSG proved time and time again that their defensive back four could have held out Attila the Hun never mind the Lille attack. In front of them PSG generally appeared to play as a 4-2-3-1 but Nenê and Sessègnon would often drop back to make more of a standard 4-4-2 with Hoarau playing off Erdinç.

PSG had the first real chance of the game after 31 years minutes when Erdinç went close with a header, Nenê then had a powerful shot from the edge of the area ten minutes later but this was a relatively comfortable save in the end for Landreau. Although PSG had the only noteworthy chances, Lille were far and away the better team in the first half. They dominated possession (almost 2 to 1) as PSG refused to press and Lille were allowed to play the ball around before coming forward. Before they even got into a relatively dangerous position though, they were closed down and depossessed.

In the second half I prayed for something to happen that would spark the game off. I thought this was what happened in the 56th minute when a free kick from the Brazilian Nenê was swung into the near post and pushed away by Landreau for a corner. Nenê again swung in the corner and it nearly went in as the Lille keeper was forced into another save, this time punching the corner from off his goal line. This wasn't enough though to set the game alight and an attempted Lille counter-attack was soon broken down.

Lille eventually started to look threatening in the 64th minute when Melo struck wide from a corner. A few minutes later and Debuchy put a dangerous cross into the middle that was headed away by Jallet for another corner. Debuchy met this corner with his head and the ball bounced dangerously across the face of goal before the ball was cleared by PSG.

My patience, matched only by saints, in enduring this match was not helped by the referee who kept on whistling more than an entrant to 'One Man and his Dog'. In particular a soft yellow card given to Makélélé was nearly the final straw for me. I needn't have bothered holding on though, the only chance that reared its head after this point was another Nenê free kick in the 92nd minute that went a couple of feet wide. Overall I guess he was the man of the match though it pains me to award one.

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