Thursday, July 5, 2012

PSG - A Tale of Two Selections

Lavezzi in, Ceara out, Chantome going, Sakho sulking; PSG's mercato can only get more interesting.  Having looked at Montpellier's preferred starters for 2011/12 with a view to assessing their situation for next season, doing the same analysis for PSG was a bit more complicated.  The managerial change during the winter break gives a clear cut-off at the halfway point of 2011/12, in terms of selection and formation.

Data comes from L'Equipe's teamsheets and formation graphics, so may not be 100%, but you get the idea.

Kombouaré set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 (barring a 4-4-2 in the opening game, Hoarau's only start in 2011), his preferred starters shown in the graphic:
In defence, Ceara got 15 starts, also covering at LB, Camara 12, Sakho 10, Tiene 11, with alternatives provided by Bisevac and Jallet (8 - Jallet also appearing on the RW), Lugano and Armand (6).

In midfield, Matuidi had 12 starts, Bodmer 12 (mostly in a holding role but initially in the attacking three) and Sissoko 9.  The front four was very consistent over the games Kombouaré was in charge - Nene 18, Menez 17, Pastore 16, and Kevin Gameiro was the only outfield player to start all 19 games.

Then came winter, and Ancelotti - there's a Christmas tree joke in here but I'm damned if I can find it - his preferred formation a 4-3-3, and starters per the graphic:
 It was the back four that changed the most - of Kombouaré's preferred starters, only Sakho held on, with 10 starts (and is muttering darkly about doing one if another central defender arrives, a view with which we may have some sympathy if the rumours are true and that CB is EBJT) - Jallet was promoted to first choice RB (with another two starts on the right wing), and January signings Alex Costa (15) and Maxwell (13) were immediately installed as fixtures. Bisevac stayed fairly level with 9 starts, but Camara was downgraded to 5 and Ceara to 2; his contract has now been terminated.

Another new boy strode confidently into midfield, Thiago Motta getting 14 starts, but the change in formation meant less disruption here, Matuidi and Sissoko both holding steady with 13, and Bodmer managing 9 as cover.  Clément Chantôme, who had got 7 starts at the start of the season under Kombouaré, started only once under the new boss, and now looks to be on his way to Lyon.

In attack, the usual suspects Nene (17), Menez (16) and Pastore (14) were regulars, with rotation employed if Ancelotti actually picked a striker - the big difference was that this was not, as before, always Gameiro; he got only 8 starts in 2012, Guillaume Hoarau (who I was surprised to find is 28) got 6, and was the preferred sub option (10 as opposed to Gameiro's 6) when Ancelotti changed things up.

Ancelotti has hinted (warning - includes auto-start video) that Gameiro will have more joy next season but the poor guy looks a bit crumpled - as well as causing frustration week-to-week, Ancelotti's formation change probably killed his chances of going to the Euros; 9 goals in 2011 (he was competing with Giroud to be top scorer) collapsed to 2 in 2012.

The purchase of Lavezzi is interesting - it could mean that Ancelotti wants to be able to rotate more with the CL to play, but what effects this will have are unclear; it could dislodge Nene, or push him into the centre if the strikerless 4-3-3 is retained; or Menez could suffer, with his manager recently stepping away from the FFF disciplinary panel issue and also saying, rather exasperatedly, that he'd rather Jeremy didn't pick up "12-13" cards a season for arguing with referees. That number was not picked out of the air - his Ligue record was in fact 12. Cover seems the most likely explanation if PSG are to make a better job of competing in Europe than they did last season, but the window well open and the frique there to be spent, this will not be the end of the story for PSG.

Click here for a visualisation of the selections throughout last season (another visual that works as well as a pillowcase cover design as for information purposes).  

Note: the formation creator used above is and also allows for the creation of fantasy teams; Death Metal Rovers? Check. Coalition Cabinet DisUnited? Check - if you can name more than four of them.  Have fun.