French perspective on Montpellier, Giroud and playing in the ‘Devil’s Pot’

Bordeaux fan and good friend of AFCB, Léo Lassarade ponders Montpellier’s poor start to the season and the threat they will pose Arsenal in their first ever Champions League game.

A disappointing start

Montpellier tend to keep the ball during their league appearances but you should expect a compact team against Arsenal, they know how to do that too.

Montpellier started with a draw against a good Toulouse side then lost two consecutive games against Lorient away and Marseille at home. They secured their first three points against Sochaux, a team already in ‘crisis’. Then they were defeated by the newly-promoted from league 2 team of Reims on the clear score of 1-3. Reims has been a terrific team, but only during the 50s.

Montpellier now lies at a disappointing 17th place with 6 goals scored and 8 conceded. Five games might not be enough to judge if they’ve become worse in the long term but there are certainly worrying signs.

Players to watch

Their neighbors and now the leader of the league, Marseille, are the biggest side they’ve faced so far. They couldn’t step it up in this highly disputed game that can be considered a South-East derby. But will the expected transcendence of a first Champions League game in history be enough? There are reasons to doubt that.

The offensive midfielders Younès Belhanda and the young and talented Rémy Cabella are the ones to look out for. They have career plans and they know there is no better moment to get a name in Europe than playing well in the Champions League. At the back we can’t forget that Yanga Mbiwa is competing with Laurent Koscielny for a central spot in Didier Deschamps national team.

The most surprising is that they’ve been very stable during the summer with only two players departing! Giroud wasn’t only Montpellier’s top scorer last season but also had the most assists. He has left a hole behind him. His ability to keep the ball up-front has been lacking and opposing defenders have not been challenged as often. Surprisingly, Montpellier hasn’t replaced Giroud with a genuine goal scorer.

The ‘Devil’s Pot’

The Stade de la Mosson was renovated for the 1998 World Cup in France and currently has a capacity of 32,900. Montpellier’s stadium is typical of those in the South-East — such as Marseille or Nice — when it comes to atmosphere. The nickname of the stadium “La Marmite du Diable” or “Devil’s Pot”. It won’t be a Turkish-like atmosphere but far more intimidating than the silent cathedrals of places like Stamford Bridge.

As a French football follower I’ve been surprised by they very poor start this season. As I said before the starting eleven is almost identical from last season so there must be something behind the dip. Is it the loss of Giroud or the inevitable drop after a successful season? Ligue 1 is a tough championship, one you don’t win relying on a miracle. Good sides don’t suddenly become bad and the most dangerous that could happen — from an opponents point of view — is this game becoming a turning point in Montpellier’s season.

But then again you don’t really know what to expect from this team and to what extent they will trouble to Arsenal on Tuesday. Things get even more confusing when charismatic president Loulou Nicollin tells l’Equipe on Monday that Montpellier will certainly play this season not to get relegated in L2. A bluff?

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15 Responses to “French perspective on Montpellier, Giroud and playing in the ‘Devil’s Pot’”

  1. BrisVegas Gooner
    September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Ha! First in.

    Good description of the club but still can’t get a grip on how they play. Giroud said Montepellier plays a bit like Arsenal tactics wise so I’m expecting a 4-2-3-1 formation but a cautious one like what Leo Lassarade said they were capable of.

    I’d be happy if we stayed with the same team that beat Southampton but the coach said he would rotate and maybe change 3 or 4 of the line up. I like that idea considering we have got Man City in a couple of days after the match

    Line up for me: Mannone, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Ramsey, Ox, Cazorla, Podolski, and Gervinho upfront again.

  2. Terry
    September 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    Thanks for the write up. Nice to get some actual analysis of our opposition. Sounds like Montpelier have made a poor start to the season which bodes well for a team that should be high on confidence. I was surprised to hear Arshavin did not make the trip as I thought there would be a case to give him an opportunity even if from the bench. I wonder if Giroud will get a start against his old team. Kick off is 4.45 AM for east coast Oz, game live on ESPN 2 for those that can get it.

  3. shambo
    September 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Thanks for the insight, I knew little of Montpellier but was aware of their poor start to the season.
    All due respect to the french side but I just cant see them getting a result. The difference in the two sides starts in their respected leagues aswel as the confidence levels points towards an Arsenal victory.
    You cant just turn it on because your playing CL, especially if your a debutante. I would imagine their fans expectation levels are low and this is a very good time to be travelling there.
    3-0 Arsenal.

  4. Theicehammer
    September 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Shambo, whats up my man and a big shout to all you gooners out there. Not had much time @ all for the footy due to family, house and work duties. Really nice to be back though. A good solid start for your boys with some entertaining offensive stuff played. Shalme about the way you conceeded your first goal though.
    Shambo you seem confident about your opening champs league game but due you think with the depth of squad you have you can qualify for knock out stage. 1-0 Arsensl
    My boys have gathered together some vital points early on but the football has been CRAP. uP DE AMMERS.

  5. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    September 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Merci, Leo, some good stuff there.

    Montpelier seem in our position at the same time last year. Weren’t we in 17th and clearly way behind the 8-ball?

    Having now “sobered up” after thoroughly basking in the three points we got with so much style against Southampton, I now have my “game face” on, as should our boys.

    Koscielny is named on the team today, Diaby should be on the bench, Wilshere is back in full training and each day brings Sagna a little closer as well. If we can stay healthy and build on the form we’ve established out of the gate, some glory this year is more than a wish or a hope.

  6. shambo
    September 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Welcome back Ice!
    I very rarely take an opponent for granted bro but I just feel the difference in both teams current momentum and confidence points towards an Arsenal win and I feel if their home fans pressure them into trying to bomb forward that it plays into our hands. I think we will score three tonight.
    I watched your boys vs Fulham and they were good but I gave to say they dont resemble any of the West Ham teams of recent past, seems to be a spark missing Ice.

  7. shambo
    September 19, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    My god that second half was woeful.
    A win is a win…thats all I can say.

  8. 1NiltoTheArsenal
    September 19, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    @Shamo 6:39 am – Man City’s was worse!
    We took our foot off the gas, but we still managed anyway. Tough to play on Tuesday away on the continent. Hopefully now we can rest up a bit before the big test against the aforementioned blue half of Manchester. Will they be down after pulling defeat from the jaws of victory (though due credit RM’s fightback) or will they be raring to have a go at us at home?

  9. leftcoastgooner
    September 19, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Thanks for the preview Leo.
    The energy levels weren’t quite the same as Liverpool and Southampton but never the less there is a more professional attitude about the team as if they somehow expect to get the job done.
    This is a big turn-around from 2 years ago when we found ways to disintergrate.
    Let’s keep it up at Eastlands.
    COYG!!!

  10. Léo Lassarade
    September 21, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    Hello everyone, first of all thanks for all your nice comments, it is really encouraging! I’m really happy about the final result of this game, it has been tough but I think at the end experience prevailed! Also, it was my first blog post about football and it was a pleasure and an honor to do it here. I’ll hopefully be back with some insights before the second game at emirates.

    Ps. Please punish city on sunday :)

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  12. Click For Source
    May 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Montpellier 1-2 Arsenal: All about The Brain - September 19, 2012

    [...] was clear the debutants turned up tonight, as Léo thought they might in our slightly left-of-centre match preview, and they looked more French champions than relegation candidates. On the evidence provided by the [...]

  2. Montpellier 1-2 Arsenal: All about The Brain | Arsenal News Blog - ArsenalNewsBlog.com - September 19, 2012

    [...] was clear the debutants turned up tonight, as Léo thought they might in our slightly left-of-centre match preview, and they looked more French champions than relegation candidates. On the evidence provided by the [...]

  3. Montpellier 1-2 Arsenal: All about The Brain | The Arsenal Post - September 29, 2012

    [...] was clear the debutants turned up tonight, as Léo thought they might in ourslightly left-of-centre match preview, and they looked more French champions than relegation candidates. On the evidence provided by the [...]

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