Saint-Etienne journalist reviews William Saliba's first defeat of the season

Metz' Senegalese forward Habib Diallo (L) vies with Saint-Etienne's French defender William Saliba during the French L1 football match between Metz (FCM) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at the Saint Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on February 2, 2020. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP)
Metz' Senegalese forward Habib Diallo (L) vies with Saint-Etienne's French defender William Saliba during the French L1 football match between Metz (FCM) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at the Saint Symphorien Stadium in Longeville-les-Metz, eastern France, on February 2, 2020. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP)

William Saliba started in his first defeat of the 2019/20 campaign, losing 3-1 to Metz on Sunday.

William Saliba against AS Monaco (Photo via Twitter)
William Saliba (Photo via Twitter)

The good news with Saliba recently is that he’s back and playing again. He only made seven appearances in the first half of the season, thanks to injury.

Unfortunately, after impressing in his comeback game, Saliba and the team didn’t do so well against Metz at the weekend. Saint-Etienne journalist Chloe Gallot of Ultimo Diez gave us a report on the match.

FC Metz 3-1 Saint-Etienne

For his second start of 2020, William Saliba partnered with club-captain Loïc Perrin, in a partnership which usually does the job. However, it did not this weekend against FC Metz.

After a solid midweek game, both Saliba and Saint-Etienne fell apart for what was Saliba’s first defeat as a starter with his team. This day had to come but we did not expect to see such a disastrous performance from everyone – the defensive line included as they conceded three goals.

After a good start, Saint-Etienne quickly became sloppy. Metz didn’t show any threat until the 43rd minute and their first attack. Saliba lost an aerial duel against H. Diallo, Nguette recovered the ball, easily beat Trauco and scored the first goal of the evening. The referee then sent everyone back to the dressing room for half-time.

Ultimately, Saliba’s first 45 minutes were far from disastrous, if not quite up to standard. The second half wasn’t as good though, and the youngster probably had his worst evening since he debuted. The ball he lost in the 46th minute, almost costing his team a goal, is a good illustration of the day’s sloppiness.

During the second half, neither Saliba nor his teammates really managed to hurt Metz – a team gaining confidence again after two wins in a row.

Saint-Etienne had a few chances but lacked efficiency whilst the day’s opponent did not. In their third opportunity of the match, Metz scored their second goal thanks to Habib Diallo. On that one, Saliba couldn’t do much.

But we cannot say the same for Metz’s third goal. The defence totally lost it. Saliba was not marking his man properly, which allowed his opponent to have plenty of space to get close to the box. V. Pajot then crossed the ball into the box, Perrin could not intercept it and Nguette was there to put it in the back of the net.

Saint-Etienne finally managed to score a goal – in the 89th minute – but it was way too late.

Les Verts lost their 10th game of the season and are now in 15th with only 28 points.

It was clearly a tough day for everyone, although such performances can also be seen as a good way to improve and work even harder. Players always learn. This is especially the case for William Saliba, who is hungry to get better and better.

It is also important to note that it was more of a collective failure than an individual one. But still, the game won’t be remembered fondly.

On the statistical side, the 18-year-old defender completed 87% of his passes (62 passes in total), won eight of his 12 duels, completed one tackle, made one interception and lost the ball eleven times.