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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? Girondin de Bordeaux. Enjoy.
We’ll get to the game in good time, but there are a couple of points that need addressing first. First, the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux (Matmut Atlantique if you’re a sellout) is an absolute wonder. Designed by Herzog & De Meuron – they of 2008 Olympic stadium fame – and finished in the spring of 2015, it was most recently in use during the summer of 2016 when it served as a host stadium during the European Championship. Several group games were played there but it most notoriously saw Simone Zaza sneak up on a ball during the penalty shootout against Germany in the quarter finals. Highly trained sniffer dogs are yet to retrieve the ball from the wooded areas on the stadium’s doorstep.
The stadium, which has a capacity of 42,115, supposedly takes the inspiration for the encircling pillars from the pine forest of the Landes regions, but to me the obvious parallel is with the Grand Theatre in Bordeaux itself. The pillared facade and repeated visual texture are an obvious nod, albeit the stadium is much lighter and airier. This lightness continues inside and watching a game held here feels a lot brighter than many other stadia around the world. This could also be because the seats are bright white and, for the most part, unoccupied, but I’m going to be kind and put it down to good architectural design instead.
Stadium aside, this game was noteworthy because Bordeaux wore their away jersey when they were the home team. I give modern football and it’s marketing carnival an easy ride because I’ll take good football with advertisements over potato fields and ‘reducers’ every day of the week, but this is a step too far. It was made even more ridiculous because Nantes were in their home jerseys, a fetching yellow number.
This made a White vs. Yellow match-up, which makes absolutely no sense when the home jerseys would have been Blue vs. Yellow, a much easier colour match to follow on a choppy stream at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. Even the third jerseys – a neon tourist postcard transmogrified into a shirt – would have made more sense. Obviously it’s not going to bring the world to an end but it’s a nuisance, one of those excesses of the present day that jam in the craw.
As for the game itself; it certainly happened. Nantes didn’t really have enough about to pose any kind of threat in the final third, but were defensively solid enough to stymie the play of Bordeaux with relative ease. Jérémy Ménez seemed to demand that the play move through him but did little beyond slowing it down or dribbling into trouble, a trick that loanee right-back Youssouf Sabaly emulated with gusto throughout the match. Despite my doubting of his ability it was Ménez who, in the 30th minute, was largely responsible for creating the sole goal of the game.
The Brazilian winger Malcolm played a first time pass from the middle of the park to find Ménez in oceans of space on the right flank. He was several yards ahead of his team-mates, but did well to hold up the play and craft enough space inside the penalty box to lash a ball across the top of the six yard box. Diego Rolan did well to make up the ground and met the cross at the back post, continuing his run when the Nantes defence had considered the play dead.
There was a blip in the plan when Jérémy Toulalan appeared to pull his hamstring just after the re-start, and a frantic finish saw Cédric Carrasso kept very busy in the Bordeaux goal, making a string of good saves in the last twenty minutes. Carrasso earned his match fee in the second half, the clean sheet a welcome sight for a team that had conceded six goals in it’s first two games in the season.
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