Alexis Sánchez, the brain of Tudor / C1 / Gr. D / OM-Frankfurt / SOFOOT.com

Alexis Sánchez, the brain of Tudor / C1 / Gr. D / OM-Frankfurt / SOFOOT.com

Welcomed like a king in Marseille at the end of August, the Chilean international landed at OM with the pressure of being one of – if not the – most beautiful CVs to have worn the Marseille tunic in the 21st century. Author of an excellent start to the season, the headliner of Chile’s golden generation, accustomed to the greatest atmospheres, has already become an essential pawn for Igor Tudor. Explanations.

His sky and white adventure could have started in an incredible way after a slip on a smoke bomb sent on the forecourt of Marignane airport, but the support of Alexis Sánchez held. Aligned since at the forefront of the Marseille attack in place of an Arkadiusz Milik who crossed the Alps to join Juventus, El Nino Maravilla offers a different approach and profile of the Polish trigger. Used on the right side at Barça, on the left side at Arsenal and second striker at Inter, Sánchez collects, at 33, both top clubs and attacking positions and has seen his sample thicken a little more since his arrival at the club. OM, where he showed up with a bunch of physical questions in his suitcases. Questions that he quickly exploded: the one who played less than 900 minutes last season with Inter is having a great start to the season, in the stats – four goals in six games in France – as in the game.

Little but strong

Known for his liveliness and tonicity, the Chilean international, 169 centimeters tall, shines above all so far thanks to his accuracy with his back to goal and his resistance to duels. While the League of Talents drags the championship reputation with a big physical density, thus requiring a certain time of adaptation to the new recruits, the caliber and the experience of Alexis Sánchez seems to have offered him a shortcut. If he is not necessarily dominant in the statistics of duels won, the new number 70 of OM stands out for his ability to turn each battle won into gold. A quality which makes it possible to offer variety to a collective which seeks to gain meters quickly without really having any other concrete point of support.


Illustration against LOSC, this weekend: Veretout lengthens towards Alexis Sánchez who comes to stick to Bafodé Diakité. The former Inter player is well anchored in his support and resists the duel against the former Toulousain…


It is then impossible to intervene for the Lille defender. Sánchez can then serve as a pivot Cengiz Ünder set back near the surface…


The Turk then slips the ball to Pape Gueye who can arm a good shot which will be saved by Lucas Chevalier.

Despite the combative character he carries around in his suitcases from Tocopilla and who has been known to all who have followed him since the early 2010s, his resistance to duels on the attacking front and his success in this pivotal role may be more surprising. However, it is above all technically that Sánchez stands out in Tudorball. Available between the lines, he represents as much a breath of fresh air for the Olympian revival as an apnea for the opposing defenses.


Example on the field of Brest (1-1), where Guendouzi finds a very nice pass towards Sánchez who breaks two lines. The ball comes strong and halfway up, but the Chilean puts it back perfectly in one touch in Milik’s race…


Everything is in place for the Pole to go to goal on his left foot, but he misses his ball and allows Brendan Chardonnet to recover the ball.


Despite his small size, Alexis and his excellent relaxation can win certain aerial duels and offer a little diversity to OM. Facing Clermont, he perfectly headed a long ball from Chancel Mbemba towards Payet, thus offering a great opportunity to the Reunionese…


The Clermontois will have time to come and tighten up to prevent the number 10 from Marseille taking his chance in an area he particularly likes.

Santa Clauss, a gift for Sánchez

Second most used route behind the one that leads to Matteo Guendouzi since the start of the season, the Sánchez-Clauss route is one of the strengths of the start of Tudor’s mandate at OM. Accomplices from the first match they played under the same tunic, the two Marseille recruits already display a natural and decisive understanding. The Chilean, often with his back to goal, being right-handed, has a logical tendency to orient towards the side of the French piston, while the former RC Lens, who has occupied an average position higher than the median since the start of the championship, is naturally tempted to play inward. The first goal scored at the Allianz Riviera against Nice is a good illustration of this agreement after Alexis pierced the skylight of Kasper Schmeichel following a good percussion from Clauss…


Against Brest, Alexis picks up between the lines as often following a good serve from Valentin Rongier and directs in one touch towards a right side then open for Jonathan Clauss (out of field)…


The Chilean’s ball is excellent, and the Marseille block quickly projects in numbers towards Marco Bizot’s goal…


Alexis followed the action and made himself available on the edge of the area for Clauss, then facing inside. He is served by his piston and will attack the goal line on his ball grip…


Behind, he crosses at the end of the race, but Clauss who also followed the movement of his partner is a bit short to recover this life-size one-two-three.


Facing Clermont, Alexis Sánchez once again leaves the marking of his defender to make himself available between the lines and is touched by Matteo Guendouzi. At the time of his stall, Clauss makes the opposite move to take advantage of the opposing alignment and his partner’s foot…


The French will offer, as usual, a good center in the area. Mateusz Wieteska must intervene in front of his goal with the presence of Payet behind his back…


The Clermont defender will make a mistake and will offer a goal ball to Payet who will not be able to conclude this movement initiated by the Sánchez-Clauss pair.

“He’s a champ. He brings a lot in terms of desire, intelligence, being professional. He’s not here for fun. He is an example for all. » Igor Tudor

Physically already in place

Before facing Brest at Francis-Le Blé on the second day, Igor Tudor said of Alexis Sánchez: “You shouldn’t expect him to be at the top right away, but in a month it will be good. » The South American did not finally need the mattress offered by his trainer to find a place in the Marseille house. Already efficient and physically sharp, the striker will nevertheless surely gain in consistency over time (only 64 minutes per Ligue 1 match on average so far with only one match played in full against Clermont out of the six played). Nevertheless, El Nino Maravilla is keen to make every minute spent in the Marseille tunic profitable. For this, the number 70 perfectly assumes the status of figurehead given to it, both collectively and institutionally. Hyper generous in efforts without the ball, Alexis is a real leader in pressing within the team which has the second highest PPDA (number of passes authorized by OM to the opponent in their half of the field) League 1 (8.74). His aura and his leadership are such that he influences and draws the whole team into a common energy, as his coach pointed out at a press conference on August 18: “He’s a champ. He brings a lot in terms of desire, intelligence, being professional. He’s not here to have fun, he’s serious. He is an example for all. He positively influences the whole team. »


Against Clermont, Sánchez triggers the Olympian pressing on the pass back from Auvergne. Guendouzi, Rongier and Gueye then activate to follow him and try to recover the high ball…


The individual pressing dear to Coach Tudor is in place, Diaw is put under pressure by Sánchez and has only one obvious solution close to him, that offered by Wieteska…


The Polish defender is then also under pressure and is forced to lengthen, which will return the ball to Samuel Gigot.

As well as being able to repeat high-intensity runs to initiate the pressing so dear to his technician, Sánchez is also proving crucial off the ball when his side are in possession. As smart to move as precise to finish, the Chilean makes life easier for his partners thanks to his races and his mobility, things that have long been criticized by his predecessor, Arkadiusz Milik.


Facing LOSC, Harit, Alexis and Ünder quickly project themselves towards the opposing goal in a quick attack made in Tudor. Sánchez does not even look at the ball anymore and attacks space to push back the Lille defensive line and offer meters, time and solutions to his Moroccan friend…


Despite the three-against-four in favor of Lille, Harit has two good options after setting the median until the entrance to the opposing surface. He will finally choose the Ünder option on the right side…


The Turk will serve Alexis in a touch that will calmly equalize with the flat foot. The Chilean has scored all of his Olympian goals so far in the penalty area (three out of the four have been completed with one touch).

Last physical question that remained at the time of the arrival of Sánchez in Provence: did he still have enough kidney to make the difference alone? If the VMA and the sequence of matches should not pose problems with good management of his playing time, the liveliness and tone of his support seem less manageable. Key color of his palette, the support of the attacker must follow to make the most of the technique and the mobility of the latter. So far he looks reassuring once again, always demonstrating that ability to turn around quickly and confuse the opponent on the ball with spontaneous changes of direction.


Against Clermont, Rongier touches Sánchez, then glued to Alidu Seidu. The Chilean feigns his ball and finally moves towards the axis thanks to an outside right foot which eliminates the Ghanaian…


He then bypasses the Clermont defender and then resists the duel to serve Pape Gueye on his left…


The former Le Havre and Nuno Tavares get in the way when exploiting this ball which then ends up blocked by the first Auvergne obstacle.

“Sánchez had clear ideas about where he wanted to go, in which game system…” said Pablo Longoria during the presentation of his latest gem, while Tudor was in awe of the versatility of his new striker: “Sánchez can play anywhere in attack. We may see him on the right, on the left, in the middle… With this kind of player, it doesn’t change much. » For the moment, the tripartite seems satisfied. Longoria has found a leader for his project on and off the pitch, Tudor can count on a flexible world-class player and Alexis Sánchez is regaining his brilliance in an environment that suits him perfectly. It remains to be seen whether he will continue to assume this status in the greatest of competitions, where he missed OM on certain sequences during the defeat at Tottenham (2-0). First element of response, this Tuesday evening, against Frankfurt, at the Vélodrome.

Little by little, Randal does his Kolo Muani

By Matthias Ribeiro

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