FC Nantes drew away 1-1 against Juventus in their Europa League playoff first leg round, leaving all to play for next Thursday as Les Canaris will host the Italian giants at La Beaujoire. Juventus dominated proceedings early on, with Nantes proving wasteful in their hosts’ half. With a 5-man defense, fuelled by the return from injury of old-school centre-back Nicolas Pallois, Nantes head coach Antoine Kombouaré’s intentions were clear: overload their penalty box and proceed with counter-attacking play. The plan came undone at the 13th minute when Juventus scored a class goal – Ángel Di María pinged a fantastic halfway line cross for Federico Chiesa to head it for Dušan Vlahović to easily slam home.
A goal down, Les Canaris were pinned back by Juventus. Di María and Adrien Rabiot kept finding pockets of space left, right and centre in Nantes’ midfield. The visitors gradually grew into the game from the half-hour mark though, mounting the pressure on I Bianconeri. However, Juventus’ tightly-knit 3-man defense and Nantes’ wastefulness in the final third meant they failed to register a single shot on target in the first half.