After OL-PSG : with a 3-5-2, Sylvinho tried something new
In recent years, Lyon and Paris have gotten the fans used to seeing a great show. Between plenty of goal-scoring (including the 4-4 in 2012), spectacular goals (Fekir in 2018) and goals in the last second (Memphis in the 2-1 in 2018), football lovers have rarely been disappointed. And if the match on Sunday night was not as spectacular as usual, it stayed in keeping with the dramatic with an a bit of brilliance from Neymar in the last moments giving the victory to PSG (0-1). For this match, Sylvinho had aligned his team in 3-5-2, a system he had yet to use this season. In front of Anthony Lopes, a defence of Denayer-Andersen-Marcelo was in charge of helping their goalkeeper in keeping the clean sheet. In the middle, defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes was playing alongside Houssem Aouar and Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, while Léo Dubois and Youssouf Koné patrolled the wings. In front, Memphis and Moussa Dembélé led the attack.
The best-laid plans…This unprecedented system had several good intentions. First, it allowed Léo Dubois and Youssouf Koné to get further forward on their flanks. While Sylvinho has often stated, since the beginning of his time in charge, that he wanted his defenders to be primarily defenders, the supporters have often expressed their dissatisfaction with this. Thus, Youssouf Koné had a good match by being more offensive than usual. Secondly, this system also allowed Memphis to take up more positions centrally, a position where the Dutchman shines for his country. Nevertheless, he did not seem to know how to influence the game and the creative impetus came more from Jeff Reine-Adélaïde. This sterility left Moussa Dembélé isolated who found himself deprived of balls played into the area. Finally, with three defenders, the Brazilian was able to foster a more technical environment, including Thiago Mendes as the first receiver of balls played out from the back. This is perhaps the point that brought the most satisfaction: the initial passes were clean and allowed OL to offer some quick counterattacks in the first period.
If the results are mixed, the system deserves to be revisited. It was the first match together for the three central defenders, who collectively had a good match, only to be beaten by the virtuosity of Neymar. In the middle, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde is still finding his feet with the club, despite good some performances and Houssem Aouar must still find his comfort zone in this midfield. In a system such as this, awareness of other players is important, both with teammates and with the a system that requires specific defensive and offensive moves. In front, even if Memphis offered a half-hearted performance, this position of "nine and a half" brings him closer to Moussa Dembélé. That means the center-forward is less often isolated which could eventually solve some problems of offensive animation.