SportsRC Strasbourg - Montpellier HSC: Gameiro-Sakho, who was most...

RC Strasbourg – Montpellier HSC: Gameiro-Sakho, who was most successful in his return to France?

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Eight years of absence. After such a long stay abroad, Kévin Gameiro and Mamadou Sakho returned to Ligue 1 last summer. While the striker reconnected with his ex from RC Strasbourg, the defender tried the Montpellier experience. Before their reunion on Sunday at La Meinau, who has so far made the best return to France? 20 Minutes hand out the good (and bad) grades!

The contribution on the ground

Four small achievements and a decisive pass in 19 appearances, the statistical record of the Alsatian is skinny. Especially given the past of the serial scorer and within the second best attack in Ligue 1 (36 pawns)… Kevin Gameiro would he have lost his skill in the last gesture?

“Certainly everyone would like him to be more efficient but he is doing a monster job up front. His calls, his races or his discounts are very interesting, ”defends the former Racing midfielder Jérémy Grimm. “You should not just look at your stats”, supports the president of the RCS Supporters’ Federation, Philippe Wolff. “Already, his return to the club is a superb symbol and he brings a lot to his partners. IF Ajorque scores so much, we can think that it is not for nothing. »

“He has to acclimatize to a new style of play, which is different from that of Spain. In France, we leave less space for attackers than in Spain, ”extends Ugo, a loyal fan of the stork club. He is still harder with “KG”. “I moderately like his nonchalant style. Sometimes, we have the impression that he came to sunbathe in Strasbourg before retirement… ” Enough to deserve just a note below the average, 4,5/10.

For Mamadou Sakho, the task was not easy. After seven months of inactivity (his last match dated back to January 8, 2021 with Crystal Palace), he was to succeed two Montpellier monuments: Vitorino Hilton (retired) and Daniel Congré (Dijon), had spent a decade there, accumulating more than 1,000 matches in L1 to them from them.

His first appearance in Reims was hesitant: “We both took a risk, maybe he wasn’t quite ready, admitted his coach. But I know he will bring us”. An injury in September raised concerns about his physical condition. But since then, doubts have been swept away. He is the boss the Hérault club was looking for. Renowned for their attacking play, the MHSC conceded far too many goals. He has a lot to do with his spectacular defensive recovery.

“I’m not here to laugh. The most important thing is the state of mind, I know I’m known for that, ”explains the former Parisian. “He arrived late because of the Covid-19, we prepared him well so that he was close, and he is gaining momentum”, underlines president Laurent Nicollin. Boss of the defense, rarely fined by the attackers, Sakho remained the same warrior. But he is much more than that. “He speaks to us a lot, through his experience, his calm and his abilities, details Ferri. He speaks enormously to the whole defense and I try to relay his message to the whole team. “An irreproachable boss in the field, who deserves a nice 8/10.

The contribution in the locker room

It’s a scene that says a lot about the relationship between Kevin Gameiro and its partners. It dates back to December 1, match night (and spanking 5-2) against Bordeaux. Just before the break, Racing gets a penalty. Who to shoot it? The logic would be worth Ajorque but the latter prefers to leave it… to “KG” who had missed one ten days earlier against Reims. This time, he transforms it before being hugged by his teammates.

“When we see that all the players have come to give him a kiss or pat him on the back, it proves his good integration and his good state of mind”, appreciates Philippe Wolff, acknowledging that he does not know everything about life in the locker room. Still intimate with certain elements and regularly in training, Jérémy Grimm confirms the general impression: the former Sevillian is appreciated at the club. “He is a simple, humble and hardworking person. I only had positive feedback on him, ”says the current midfielder of SR Colmar (N3). “He doesn’t cheat and gives his all.” Just for that, it’s 9/10 !

Mamadou Sakho, “He is a man of his word. He could have gone to a club that offered him ten times more money, but he had given us his agreement and he did not go back on it”. Laurent Nicollin is not the only one to have great respect for the character. “He is always in the discussion, in the exchange, it is someone who advances the group”, evokes Nicolas Cozza. “I hope he will be one of those leaders who will be able to supervise our young people and make them progress,” explained President Nicollin on his arrival. Cozza, but Mihailo Ristic or the young Maxime Estève have grown enormously by his side.

“Having him in the locker room every day, for me, is huge. I drink his words, evokes Estève, Mamad’s baba. I ask him as many questions as possible, but I try not to be too boring! But when you see the charisma he has in the locker room, you want to talk to him. The guy is unanimous. And not just in Montpellier. During the match at PSG, despite his absence, the Parisian Ultras made a banner in his honor. A rare gesture. “At first, I didn’t dare too much. I don’t know if I called it formal or not, continues Estève. But he immediately put me at ease. The magic works. Sakho, in the locker room, is a manager and a big brother. Notes: 9,5/10

What end of the season can they expect?

This Sunday, Kevin Gameiro will definitely hold. His two usual competitors (for the two front seats) are absent. Habib Diallo is at the African Cup of Nations and Ludovic Ajorque suspended. Without these two packages, the native of Senlis, 34, had no guarantee.

His trainer, Julien Stéphan, has already left him on the bench this season. Without the interested party ostensibly complaining. “I’m not afraid for him. In the coming weeks, he will score again, ”assures Jérémy Grimm. An opinion shared by the president of the Federation of supporters of the RCS.

“He is already creating a lot of chances, like in Metz again last weekend where it is played for nothing. After a while, it will eventually work. There is no reason to be worried”, wants to believe Philippe Wolff. “If he scores a goal against Montpellier, it can really get him started this season. “And take him to the bar of ten achievements in Ligue 1. It is far from impossible in this playful team. We believe in : 7,5/10.

Sunday, like every game, Sako will be placed at the heart of Olivier Dall’Oglio’s defensive system. He is (with Téji Savanier and Jordan Ferri), the first name on the sheet by the coach when he thinks of his composition. The MHSC finished the first leg in fifth place with a very balanced team block and individuals who can allow it to maintain this dynamic.

“Mamadou shows that he is a great player, an international, continues Laurent Nicollin. From there, it’s reassuring for me to have such a player. Reassuring for the staff and the players to be able to rub shoulders with him. There is not a cloud on the horizon in the honeymoon between the MHSC. To those who doubted it, Sakho is not in early retirement. In Montpellier, where he had to conceive of big salary efforts, the ambition is intact. The man with 29 selections has still not given up on his blue dream. “If it wasn’t in the back of my mind, I would have stopped my career this summer. It’s still a goal, and that’s what helps me work. This is what makes me want to work and give the best. “A complicated challenge. But perfect to help him maintain his current level. Notes: 8/10

The balance sheet of returnees

With a total of 25,5/30, Mamadou Sakho wins this match of expatriates back in Ligue 1. Kevin Gameiro is not far, with 21/30. Now, on to the game! On Sunday, the two will meet face to face on the Meinau lawn. On the way to Hérault (1-1), the Strasbourg player had scored…

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