The Bundesliga Babbel: How Favre is building a nice gym project at Nice

Having taking over the managerial helm this past June at OGC Nice, Lucien Favre has already imposed his style of play at Le Gym, without making waves, and while in demand of higher profile European clubs.

Quietly, OGC Nice sit comfortably on the podium of the Ligue 1 this season.

Arriving freshly in the south of France, Lucien Favre has instilled his game precepts to his group.

Able to adapt to the tactics of his opponents, the Swiss seems to have found the formula to move the club on from its predecessor.

A task far from easy, as confirmed by the mixed start to the season of Paris Saint-Germain, who have also entered a new phase this summer with the arrival of Unai Emery.


Well-regarded amidst the likes of Klopp, Heynckes and Guardiola

With a fondness for travel and new adventures, Lucien Favre decides to begin a coaching career.

In Switzerland, it goes through all the steps and climbed them as a rider of the Tour de France.

He brought up the team Echallens in the Swiss second division, a record in the history of the small club, and was then promoted to the first division with Yverdon-Sport.

He then passed through Servette then took over FC Zurich. There, he won a Swiss Cup and the championship twice. Sparkling in achievements and praise, he was elected best coach in Switzerland twice.

A first round of awards, but surely not the last.

Lucien Favre left his native Switzerland and flew to Germany taking over Hertha Berlin.

Accustomed to vegetate in the soft underbelly of the Bundesliga club takes on another dimension under the leadership of former Toulouse.

At the end of his second season in 2008-2009, the HBSC finished a surprising fourth place, with only the 13th highest budget in the Bundesliga .

One major highlight: Hertha defeats Bayern Munich 2-1 in front of 75,000 spectators a full Olympiastadion. For the first time in Germany, Favre was voted the league’s best coach.

The club lost its stars during the off-season and thus endured a poor start to the 2009-10 season.

Lucien Favre was then relieved of his duties in late September.

Two years later, he joined Borussia Mönchengladbach in the middle of the season with a new mission for him: play like service firefighters and save the team from relegation.

Last of the first phase, the German club managed a spectacular comeback in particular garnering 13 points in the last six days. Sixteenth, the team plays its survival in the top flight at the dam and save in extreme circumstances.

Lucien Favre was again voted best coach of Bundesliga reviving a dying club and permanently installing it high in the rankings.

The following season, Favre transformed die Fohlenelf and finished fourth in the championship including Marco Reus, promising young player at the time.

In his last season at Borussia, the Swiss propelled the club to third in the championship and was again named best coach .

In seven years in Germany Lucien Favre has been elected three times as the best coach, ahead of hitters in the art such as Jupp Heynckes, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola .

And during his stint, he revealed the potential of Marco Reus, worked to recruit Granit Xhaka and develop under-appreciated talents like Juan Arango and Raffael.


A unique conductor

Wherever he went, Lucien Favre has distinguished by a style of technical play and pleasing to the eye.

Like a conductor coordinating intricate movements and shifts laterally, the compact banks of four forming a deep block unlike most Bundesliga clubs, and then upon winning the ball.

It thus promotes the attack, twirls, do not hesitate to unbalance his team to take risks, while relying on a technical midfield and comfortable on the ball.

The football here comes out as dynamic, aggressive and very fast.

The Swiss loves possession, the ability to adapt to his opponent, changes of pace and full match system.

He juggles and between schemes without ever having the feeling of walking on a wire in the middle of empty. Everything is calculated, thoughtful, meticulously prepared.

When he wants to keep a score, Lucien Favre does not hesitate to put in place a solid compact block, impenetrable wanted by the opponent.

In an interview with Le Point, Lucien Favre explains his coaching vision: “The constant movement is a vision that I love, with the speed as a driver. Everything moves faster in the world, Internet, trains, cars …  Adaptation is one of the precepts of Switzerland: ” I demand that my team is able to possess the ball, but also to conduct rapid attacks. “


The importance of the youth setup

Another constant of teams led by Lucien Favre, youth.

The coach did not hesitate to build on promising elements and burst their potential.

In 2006 for example, the average age of the players from Zurich did not exceed 22 years . If it has shaped diamonds that are Granit Xhaka and Marco Reus, he also launched Blerim Dzemaili and Gökhan Inler.

The Swiss takes on the model of the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, who crushed everything in his way at Manchester United with the development of talented youngsters.

In recent years, Lucien Favre has been courted by major European clubs.

In 2013, his name had circulated Bayern Munich side to take over from Jupp Heynckes . During the same summer, LOSC had approached him to replace Rudi Garcia.

In recent months, the Swiss was linked with Stuttgart, Galatasaray, Toulouse, Lyon and Marseille.

He eventually signed for three seasons at OGC Nice.


Can he succeed in the south of France?

As mentioned above, Lucien Favre took the habit of taking average teams that languish in mid-table, to advance and lead them to the Champions League.

With OGC Nice, he somewhat changed his tune. The team has a very fine fourth place in Ligue 1.

The coach will have to confirm the progress of the team and try to do better than last year.

The mission looks dangerous. Nice has lost several of its best players last season, such as Valere Germain, Nampalys Mendy, and Hatem Ben Arfa.

Despite the summer signings, he’s not about to revolutionize the club’s squad depth.

“I’m not going to turn everything upside either. OGC Nice will not change his style of play overnight, his style is here to stay . But I also think about the relevance of maintaining a 4-4-2, as Ben Arfa is gone. And I am above all a pragmatist; I do not like my team is enclosed in a diagram. I want my players to adapt to the context. Sometimes she will press High; for other matches, it will move down on the ground,” explained the coach upon arrival.

Le Gym have won their first two matches of the season, which had not happened to them since 2003 .  Lucien Favre tries, and continues to make changes in small steps adjusting his team’s game systems.

For example: on Sunday against Marseille, he forsake Nice’s usual 4-3-3 to move to 3 -5-2.

Lucien Favre has all the qualities required to win at OGC Nice and further advance the club. He is a follower of the beautiful game and will try to entertain the club’s supporters.

Like Claude Puel, the coach relies on young prospects and has already instilled trust in Malang Sarr, a central defender of 17 years . More generally, he relies on a very young group, which bodes well for a bright future.

Balotelli... so far so good under Favre.

Balotelli… so far so good under Favre.

We are already seeing the likes of Plea, Walter, Cyprien and Koziello in the starting XI.

With the recent acquisitions of Mario Balotelli, Younes Belhanda, and Dante, he has veteran players who have featured in European competition.

It will be interesting to see how Favre will manage Balotelli. So far so good, scoring a brace in his Nice debut vs Marseille. Time will tell over his overall play in a rather defensive Ligue 1.

With a game system and a tactical intelligence that bore fruit in Germany, Lucien Favre has all the qualities to succeed at Nice.


Written by Victor Charnetsky

Follow Victor on Twitter @VanDerCharks

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