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Apr 2012
20:36 Comments (19)
Lille threaten PSG, by Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benítez

Yesterday, Sunday, we had the opportunity to attend a more than interesting clash which could be decisive in the French league title. Lille OSC, third in the table, hosted Paris Saint Germain CF, second in the table and 5 points off the top team Montpellier Herault SC who had won on Friday against Toulouse FC (0-1). A Lille win, managed by Rudi Garcia, would put them just one point behind PSG, giving them a chance to finish top if they had good results in the last 4 matches.

The match, as you can see in image 1, had one team, Lille, who based their game on a balance between attack and defence, with width supplied by their wide attackers and full backs and constantly looking for a magic moment from their star, most effective, player. Hazard is capable of winning a match on his own and that's what happened again in last night's game.

As for Carlo Ancelotti's PSG, they were organised defensively, with 4 at the back, with Motta in front of them but with free attacking roles for their forward players. Their 1-4-3-2-1 system is called the Christmas Tree in France because it resembles one on the tactics board. Their game was based on the great attacking ability of their forwards any of whom can change the game in a moment.

The Match

As last night's game developed in the first half, we saw the home side, Lille, creating dangerous chances, but it was PSG who looked more likely to score as their players found space when they counter attacked through the great pace of Gameiro and the quality of his team mates like Pastore or Nene when they had the ball.

From outside Hazard was bit too deep and he was not influencing the game as much as he could do when Lille attacked. So as we said, Rudi Garcia's team were mainly creating a threat through Payet or De Melo but they were not giving you the feeling they were in control defensively which made you think that at any time, they were vulnerable to conceding the first goal of the game.
However, PSG, with their experienced back 4 and Motta in front of them along with the notable work rate of Matuidi and Sissoko in front of him, allowed the Paris side to defend well and then show the quality of their three offensive players, making you think that it would be the team from the capital who opened the scoring.

From the point of view of the game developing, Lille looked to switch the play, long and short, to try to unbalance the opposition on the wings and make a penetrating pass or cross for their most advanced player, De Melo, to show how good he is in the air.

PSG, though, looked for Motta when they had the ball and he tried to link with Nene or Pastore between lines or with Gameiro behind the defence.

The image below shows clearly the strategy both teams we using.

Second Half

In the second half we saw a completely different game. And it was through Pastore's goal for the visitors which forced Rudi Garcia to make attacking changes to try to equalise. He did so, and I think he did well given the state of the game and the score. The introduction of Joe Cole and also Roux a bit later gave the team much more penetration and especially more incisiveness in attack.

And we can look at what happened now. A penetrating pass to Roux was the key moment in the game as he was brought down just as he got in to the box. It meant the sending off of the defender Sakho, who had come on for Bisevac as he was the one who brought down the home player giving away the penalty. The rest goes without saying. Hazard took the penalty with composure and made it 1-1.

From then on, Lille continued to attack, thanks to their numerical superiority, and a few minutes later Hazard's trick pass created the second goal which was the winner and gave the three points to Rudi Garcia's team.
A result that could be crucial in the end for the destination of the French league title because, apart from widening the gap with Montpellier who are out in front at the top, it also leaves Lille only one point behind PSG. So that's the situation which leaves both teams fighting for second place and the Parisians 5 points adrift with no margin for error to try to win the title. The league has been really interesting this season and even more so in the final weeks, with just 4 games left.

19 Comments Send us your opinions
30/04/12 at 20:46:08 #1
Rafa I love your analysis of games. You are a tactical genious. Hope you come back home one day, we still miss you at Liverpool.

Thank you Rafa for everything you did for our club.
30/04/12 at 23:33:15 #2
Rafa's Red Men
I guess this must mean Fergy cracking up now then, Get in City, be nice to see the press state how Roberto Mancini won the imaginary, all powerful mind games;I shall not hold my breath, though.

Oh and by the way was that game not lost by poor man marking in the box? Bit of impartiality on the merits and flaws on both systems, wouldn’t go a miss now would it, Sky ;)
01/05/12 at 01:05:58 #3
Hi Rafa,


Hello, nice to read you again, always I try to consider what you say.Thank you.
01/05/12 at 02:31:56 #4
Is it fair to say that since the arrival of Jose Mourinho into the English Premier League the favoured formation globally is 4-3-3 which can be adapted to a more prgamatic 4-2-3-1. Having analysed these formations what would you suggest the next generation of formation would be, to somewhat combat this?


Hello, as always I say, it depends on your own team but I like the 1-4-2-3-1 formation to combat this one. Thanks.

01/05/12 at 08:12:41 #5
Hi Rafa,

What did you think of Joe Cole? What do you think of the theory that his managers at previous clubs have misused his talent and tried to beef him up to suit the Premier League and in the process reduced his effectiveness?

Do you think he would have been a more successful player in Spain?

Do you think it is possible for a player to learn to be a more efficient, disciplined team player at 21, or is this something that needs to be learned at youth level?

Thanks for you response. YNWA 


Hello Chris, the age is important if they want to learn, but if they want to learn, that is the key for me. I don't know too much about the character of Cole to have an opinion. Thanks.
01/05/12 at 08:41:39 #6
This is team no one can beat except GOD
Kelly Skertel Agger Dann

Larsson Gerrard Lucas Mertens

Wolfswinkle Luke de jong
01/05/12 at 09:21:29 #7
Hi Rafa, Thanks for the excellent analysis. I would like to ask a question which is unrelated to the game. Media indicate the the EPL has improved and point to the teams being much closer together on the table as proof. I tend to think that it is because the top teams have not been spending as much as they have in the past that has allowed other teams to catch up. When you lok at Man U and Chelsea their players are getting much older than one normally finds. Man U has not replaced Scholes or Giggs and they cannot go on forever. at chelsea there are number of players in their 30's. What is your opinion on this? Regards Keith YNWA


Hello Keith, if you think about five or six years ago, Chelsea, United, Liverpool, Arsenal. I don't think the level has gone higher. Thanks.
01/05/12 at 20:00:40 #8
Dear rafa

Hope you doing fine

We have suffered from strikers with body and strength like Dedeir

Carra just couldn't seem to be able to hold him specially in airial balls

Is just impossible to stop such strikers or you should have in your team defenders with strength like Vidic or his likes ...what are the options 


Hello, to have different kind of players is important for a lot of games. You can choose the right player for some games and that can be the difference. Thanks.
01/05/12 at 20:07:34 #9
Dear rafa

Rafa the market look crazy this summer .. Some clubs already getting their targets so early . Is that normal .?

Big big teams coming in this Summer with big big money

Do you think there are enough quality players for everybody out there .. 


Rafa .. Regarding Posolski , his a quality player isn't he .. He can play
SS CF ST and even as winger on both side he can send rocket balls with his both feet with same accuracy .. And very good on volleys and shots from first touch

Amazingly he was never a target for us while you were in charge rafa 


Hello, If you can sign players early you have to do it. It will be cheaper.

Podolski is a very known player, the price sometimes is the problem. Thanks.

02/05/12 at 06:05:18 #10
Hi Rafa,

I have a hypothetical question. If you have a young right winger who has a troubled background and has a habit of going out late at night (maybe to the MTV music awards) and often comes into training late, and you have an experienced attacking player, who can play on the right and is very disciplined and hard working but may not have great technical ability, you'd chose the experienced well behaved player. Would this be because the young player is late, because he has an attitude problem, or because he cannot follow your tactics? Do you think the young right winger could have been a success if he had the correct mentality, or do you think the technical side of his game was also perhaps over rated?

Thanks for your response. YNWA


Hello Chris, you have to try to advice the young player about his behaviour and the decision it depends on the best for the team. You have to win games not just a game, the rest of the squad needs to know the rules, then you can win trophies, not just a game. Thanks.
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