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Colin Crawford is a museum worker with a well cultivated taste for the arcane and unusual. Buy him a cup of tea and he’ll talk about anything to do with soccer.
This season Colin is exploring Ligue 1, club by club. This week it’s SC Bastia, and on Saturday he watched them take on Lorirent. Here’s the recap.
After watching a pretty dull game last week in Montpellier vs. Angers, I was treated to one packed full of incident last Saturday when SC Bastia travelled to Brittany to take on Lorient.
First of all, full marks to Lorient for really sticking to their branding. In case you didn’t know, the team colours are orange and black. Every single thing in that stadium was also orange and black, save the grass. The most impressive part was getting the advertisers to agree to render their logos in the appropriate colour combination, subjugating their usual brand identities in the face of love for the Lorient team.
The kits themselves were rather bland unfortunately, a dull adidas template that is brought low by it’s colour combination. Black and Orange seems so flat in comparison to the Orange and Navy blue of Montpellier for instance. Bastia get points for having their shirts made by Kappa, and there’s a good shirt in there somewhere – a sort of monochrome Sampdoria knock-off – but you have to really dig through the extra sponsors that the match day shirts have. It’s a bit of a shame really.
As mentioned, the match itself was kind of bonkers. Bastia lined up in a rough 4-3-3/4-2-3-1, with Thievy Bifouma out on the right and Monaco loanee Allan St. Maximin nominally on the left, but really popping up all over. 36 year old Sebastian Squillaci started in the heart of defence, but wasn’t overly tested.
Lorient were much better going forward, they maintained possession in more dangerous areas, and were better at breaking the lines with through balls, but never really threatened the Bastia net, spending more time out wide than penetrating through the middle. The Lorient number 7, Didier N’Dong was looking dangerous though, and appeared to be the likeliest source of joy for the home side.
For their part, the two Bastia wide players looked very lively, running well with the ball at their feet, but never having decent numbers in support. Mehdi Mostefa and captain Yannick Cahuzac were doing a defensive job in the centre of the field, and centre forward Enzo Crivelli played about ten years older than he actually is.
It was Bastia, however, who broke the deadlock in the 26th minute with an absolutely storming finish from St. Maximin. Sadio Diallo hoisted a long ball into the box from a free kick on the right side, just inside the Lorient half. To be honest, it wasn’t a great free kick, and the Bastia players did a terrible job attacking the ball as it was cleared easily. Lorient didn’t follow it up though, and St. Maximin was first to the loose ball at the top of the box. His side foot finish looked so easy but it whipped into the top right corner and Bastia were 1-0 up against the run of play.
Lorient’s woe was compounded just a few minutes later when N’Dong was sent off with what could be called a soft red card. He flashed the studs at around knee height, and did catch Mostefa on the foot, but the Bastia players foot was at the same height and it was an honest attempt to play the ball. Despite losing N’Dong Lorient still played more intricate football than the visitors, who were happy to run the ball down the flanks and look to capitalise on set-pieces, which they did in the 38th minute.
Diallo again gave life into a dead ball, serving one up for Crivelli to smash in with his head from a corner. It was a good run from the Bastia forward – on loan from Bordeaux – but he left his marker behind pretty easily, and it could have been the case that the Lorient number 6 – Francois Bellugou – was looking after two players on the set-piece. Either way, Bastia were 2-0 up and cruising at the half.
Lorient came out in the second half playing much the same way as they did in the first. The passing was crisper, the interplay between the front two and the midfield more effective and in more dangerous areas, and Walid Mesloub looked good on the left wing. So, of course, Bastia had the bigger chance. Bifouma won a penalty on the hour mark, completely fooling Lindsay Rose into jabbing a leg out into his path. Crivelli took responsibility for the spot-kick and basically gave Benjamin Lecomte in the Lorient net catching practice. It was soft, central, and at waist height. Terrible.
Mesloub endeared himself to the home crowd further in the 66th minute for getting himself booked. St. Maximin was being cheeky with his stepovers so Mesloub, who was presumably a bit fed up, came in from his blind spot and cleared him out. It won cheers, but did little to affect the game.
Lorient went down to nine men in the 77th minute after an absolutely bizarre passage of play. Majeed Waris, who had been playing well for Lorient as number 9, had turned well in the area and was shaping to shoot before getting hauled down. The referee was no more than five yards away and inexplicably signalled play on, eliciting howls of frustration from the Lorient players, none more so than Benjamin Jeannot. In his rush to get to the loose ball the Lorient midfielder, who had been subbed on only 15 minutes earlier, shoved the referee out of the way, earning himself a straight red.
Bastia put the game beyond all doubt in the 80th minute with Crivelli somehow getting himself another goal, putting a diving header into a rebound from Mostefa’s shot off the post. I can’t talk enough about how little Crivelli seemed interested in playing football, but he did end up with two goals, so (insert shrug emoji).
It’s always going to be difficult to draw larger conclusions about a teams playing style and prospects for the season from one game, but this was a particularly weird one. I’d be surprised if Crivelli gets any more goals this year, and Lorient look far better than a 3-0 loss at home. Bifouma and St. Maximin look like decent players for Bastia, so perhaps the island club will still be able to avoid the drop.
Read more from Colin
SC Bastia: Riots in the streets
Montpellier vs. Angers – Match report]
Adventures in Ligue 1 – Angers SCO
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