Top 10 features the top ten stories from the previous month from across the footballing world. The featured articles may be about a massive headline or a result from the previous month, or a culmination of a particular story that needs to definitely be noticed and discussed about. This feature is to bring a different flavor to the breaking news we see and talk to others about and aimed at constructively looking at the point in discussion. The stats used in the article below are accurate as of November 30, 2017.
Often in football, we have seen high the highly established teams set records(both offensively and defensively) and receive praise as early as one-third of the season for their strides in league and Europe. This would mostly be confined to teams which include the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United and even Chelsea. This season however with Neymar moving to PSG and Pep Guardiola’s monster taking its shape in Manchester, it is the once touted money merchants who have reaped all the praise this season.
After one-third of the season, both the teams are probably the two best European teams at the moment with PSG scoring 94 goals in 26 games and Manchester City scoring 57 goals in 20 games in all competitions. This includes both the teams goals scored in the league as it stands – 42 goals from 13 games for City while PSG have scored 45 goals in 14 games. Though both the teams have attracted all the praise for their attacking prowess, there is another trio that have made a great case to be worthy of being named the best attacking trio in Europe right now. With the MSN now non-existent, the Cavani-Neymar-Mbappe trio is oft looked to as the best trio in Europe and you cannot fault one for that. But Lyon’s front three of Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Mariano have been nothing short of sensational and deserve all the plaudits coming their way.
The 2nd placed team in Ligue 1 only after leaders PSG, Olympique Lyonnais have found goals easy to come by. The Lyon based club have scored 37 goals in 14 games in the league so far with an average just below 3 goals per game which many top clubs cannot boast about. The main reason for their attacking success has been the front three who have scored a collective 29 goals of the 37 in the campaign so far.
Nabil Fekir has been a sensation this season in France and Europe and he has been well supported by Dominican striker Mariano and Memphis Depay, after a poor stint at Manchester United. The front three often worked in a way that both Memphis and Fekir would play behind the striker Mariano. Often Memphis Depay would play as the attacking midfielder in the left half space and would cut in to centre while Fekir would play in the 10s role as well as starting from the right to drift inside.
The Lyon manager Bruno Genesio has employed the 4-2-3-1 structure on a consistent basis this term. This system sees Mariano leading the attack as the trio of Traore, Fekir and Depay playing off the striker. Though Traore has chipped in with a goal and two assists, it has been the other two attacking players who have contributed more to the success of Lyon. In some cases, Genesio has switched the system to a 4-3-3 where Cornet is preferred in the right instead of Fekir.
This goes on to show the difference of styles between Fekir’s play. He is best when playing off a striker and he can also play as the right attacking no.8 when the front three becomes a 2-1 set up. Fekir is not pretty adept at playing as the winger and this is one of the most important reasons why the Lyon manager has favoured the 4-2-3-1 set up as he can field his best player in the pitch.
Genesio has really made good amends with the players at his disposal having to bear with the loss of Alex Lacazette to Arsenal.
Arguably the most improved player in this season, Nabil Fekir has recovered from injuries which had plagued his last season and is showing the signs of becoming the next big star of the French league. Fekir is more influential when he plays off the striker as the number 10. Also, the 24-year old is brilliant at the link up play between the players around him and he is excellent with the ball at his feet. He definitely is a luxury to his manager as Fekir also excels as the second striker though he is known for his traits as a No.10.
He is also very good at striking the ball as it is evident from his ‘Goal of the season’ for the previous season. He scored a belter from the half way line against Bordeaux to win the Goal of the season for 2016/17 season. The 24-year old lad Captains the Lyon club and he has already received great plaudits from the greats of the game.
“Nabil is an incredible player. He impressed me technically” these were the words of one of the best technically adept players of all time – Zinedine Zidane.
So far in this season, Nabil Fekir has scored an amazing 13 goals and recorded 4 assists in just 16 games in all competitions. It is in the league where he has impressed everyone, as he has 11 goals and 4 assists to name in just 14 appearances. Fekir also has an amazing pass success percentage this season completing 84.5%, having to play in the final third of the pitch and tasked with the creative burden of the side, with an average of almost 3 shots per game.
After faltering at PSV only to deceive at Manchester United, Memphis rejuvenated himself last season at Lyon. This time though, he is proving that he has the ability to realize his potential of becoming a world class player and rightly proving the things that were thought of him during his time at PSV Eindhoven. Memphis is known for his powerful right foot and is excellent at taking on defenders. Because of this particular style, Memphis is mostly preferred as the inverted winger who cuts inside rather than a conventional winger.
This means Memphis would play in the left flank cutting into the centre with his right foot. Known for his free kick ability, Memphis is one of the most important set piece takers for Lyon. The 23-year old is often seen to dominate in the 1v1s using his physical strength and he is very strong and quick. Just like his attack partner Nabil Fekir, Memphis scored an amazing goal from half-way line last season which goes on to show his striking abilities of the ball.
Memphis has been used as a wide attacking midfielder in most instances as Genesio fielded a 4-2-3-1 in most games. In the games when Lyon used the 4-3-3, Memphis has been preferred as the winger, playing higher up the pitch.
Depay started the league on a decent note but has been great of late. He has totally scored 8 goals from 13 appearances in the league with 3 assists while recording 2 goals and 2 assists to his name in the 5 appearances in Europa League. His best has come in the month of November where he has scored 4 goals and recorded 2 assists in all competitions.
While all the talk at Madrid this summer transfer window was of Alvaro Morata leaving the Madrid side, not much thought was given to Mariano as he was brought by Lyon. While 8 million Euros was definitely thought to be as cheap, little did anyone predict that the young striker would prove to be nothing short of a coup. Quite not as famous as the above, Mariano Diaz has written scripts as to why he is one of the fan favourites of the season. Standing 182 cm tall, the Spanish born Dominican striker has come through the ranks of one of the most famous clubs in the world, Real Madrid. While playing for the B side of the Real Madrid team, Castilla, till the age of 22, Mariano finally made the cut into the first division team in the 2016-17 season.
Unable to make regular first team appearances for the Madrid team full of superstars, Mariano just played 8 games for the Champions. Mariano impressed in his debut for Lyon as he scored a brace in his first game against Alsace. Mariano has 10 goals and 2 assists in 14 appearances in the Ligue 1, a phenomenal record for someone who has not featured much previously in top flight football.
The tall striker is young and just at the age of 24 shows great character going forward. He is solid at the front and can run at defenders with pace. One of the main strong points of his game play is to hit the goal from distance as he is very adept at long shots. He averages more shots per game in the Lyon squad with 3.3 shots per game.
Boasting such great collective displays, it should be said that the Lyon trio have fared well when compared to the NCM who have had 28 goals and 11 assists between them in the league. One intriguing fact is that all the three are almost just 23 years old. Credit should be given to Genesio for finding the right balance between the systems and getting the most out of his best players.
Should they continue to do so, this trio could go on to become one of the most fearsome partnerships not just in French football but also in Europe as their young age should give hope to Lyon and their fans that they can outshine Monaco and co and if they can dare to dream, even topple the mighty PSG.