Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Reims were too wide against Lens

May 13, 2023 — I’m watching Reims more for 23-year-old French goalkeeper Yehvann Diouf now than manager Will Still. I don’t think their structure played to their strengths when they played Lens yesterday.

Reims’ back-four, made up of Thomas Foket, Yunis Abdelhamid, Emmanuel Agnadou, and Maxime Busi, are not the most proficient passers. Their midfield and forwards consist of decent dribblers. If they can get the ball, they know how to quickly fashion a chance.

Figure 1.1 - Yunis Abdelhamid passes to the left.

Figure 1.1 is a good example of their normal structure: a back-four with a box in the middle, and wingers providing width on the touch-line.

I feel like they’re too wide. There’s too much space. It would help if that box of four was closer to the defenders, more compact, with shorter distances for the ball to travel.

Reims’ back-line isn’t good at passing, so the distance the ball has to travel to reach a midfielder or forward is far, and they often misplace passes.

Figure 2.1 - Illustration of my suggested changes.

If the midfield box moved closer to the defenders and the far-side winger inverted to move closer to the midfielders, they might have more luck consistently transitioning into the opponents’ half because the distance between passes would be shorter.

Shorter passes are easier to complete, and you can’t trust the Reims defenders to switch the ball. The far-side winger helps overload the midfield and the ball-side winger provides the width.

Lens went down to 10 men after a red card in the 19th minute. I understand the idea to use maximum width to stretch the pitch to the max but they don’t have the personnel to make that much space work.

Figure 1.2 - The weight of Yunis Abdelhamid's pass was too soft and the ball is intercepted.
Figure 1.3 - Yunis Abdelhamid doesn't cut off the pass behind him to Ilokma Lois Openda.
Figure 1.4 - Yehvann Diouf does a good job positioning his body to limit the angles Ilokma Lois Openda has to score. Openda puts his shot wide.

Yehvann Diouf comes to the rescue, as he’s often called to do when there’s a mistake from sloppiness.

Figure 3.1 - Seko Fofana drives forward with the ball.
Figure 3.2 - Emmanuel Agbadou comes out to challenge the ball.
Figure 3.3 - Seko Fofana drives past the challenge.

Emmanuel Agbadou must prevent Seko Fofana from getting past him. If Agbadou can’t get a foot on the ball, he should take out the man to avoid allowing Fofana to enter such a dangerous area.

Figure 3.4 - Seko Fofana shoots the ball into the bottom left corner for the goal. Yehvann Diouf is left motionless, with no chance to save the shot.

Yehvann Diouf is having an incredible season, leading Ligue 1 in save percentage at 81.5% from 114 shots on target, but no one could stop that shot. It was perfectly placed by Seko Fofana.

Would recommend muting the audio on the video because the song isn’t very good. There’s not many good compilations for Yehvann Diouf yet, and this is the best one I could find.

Throughout Europe, teams are actively seeking goalkeepers, and those teams should be knocking on Reims’ door to inquire about Yehvann Diouf.

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