C1: OM in Lisbon for hope or fear
Does Marseille have a future in the Champions League? If they had the right to believe that by beating Sporting Portugal a week ago, OM still need a good result in Wednesday’s second leg in Lisbon, four days before the game against Paris SG.
After the resounding 4-1 win at the Vélodrome, OM could have approached this crucial second leg against Sporting with confidence and strength.
But inexplicably, Igor Tudor’s team suddenly went off the road on Saturday in the league with their first defeat of the season in L1, conceding at home against Ajaccio (2-1), red lantern at the whistle.
“I find it difficult to explain this defeat. In fact, we only played 15 minutes,” admitted the Croatian technician after the game.
So a simple unwelcome accident, or a genuine admission of weakness from a team faced with a grueling schedule and having won just two of their last five games in all competitions?
In any case, the huge underperformance on Saturday is a reminder that OM depended heavily on certain elements, such as Mattéo Guendouzi and Jonathan Clauss, who were badly replaced at the Vélodrome and could be back on Wednesday.
It also showed that certain supposed leaders like Dimitri Payet or Gerson were still a long way from the goal, that Tudor didn’t really have a plan B, neither in the system nor in the selection of men, and that the offensive potential of the team behind craftsman Alexis Sanchez wasn’t very impressive.
However, Tudor immediately urged his people to “keep going”, supported by Payet. “Some defeats are good, that puts the record right,” said the Marseille N.10 before turning to Lisbon.
– Irrational first leg –
“We gave ourselves the chance to catch up again in this group,” he recalled. In fact, last Tuesday’s only success in the very homogeneous Group D was enough for the Provençals to get back into the running for qualification after two defeats at the start against Tottenham and Frankfurt.
The Marseillais are certainly still last, but just three lengths behind Sporting, leaders, and a point behind the English and Germans, who meet in London on Wednesday.
So hope has returned, but OM know it wouldn’t be prudent to take too many lessons from an irrational first leg behind closed doors that doesn’t say much about the value of either side.
“We played 11 against 10 for more than an hour. The second leg will be different, outside, with their spectators. It’s going to be very difficult,” Tudor warned after the final whistle.
In Marseille, the Spanish Sporting goalkeeper Antonio Adan had written a good part of the history of the game, offering OM the goal to equalize, then being very involved on the second before ending his performance upside down with a kick half an hour ago game time.
Of course, he will miss Wednesday’s José Alvalade Stadium but his replacement, Franco Israel, didn’t look stunning at the Vélodrome either. However, Ruben Amorim will bring back his centre-back and captain Sebastian Coates, who was absent in the first leg.
In addition to the expected returnees of Guendouzi and Clauss, Marseille will rely on the experience of Sanchez, Eric Bailly and Chancel Mbemba, as well as the leadership of Amine Harit and Cengiz Under. Their mission is to leave Lisbon with at least a point before turning to Paris, Neymar, Mbappé, Messi and Sunday’s classic.
It is always my pleasure to provide insightful information on important topics and if you have learned something from my article then I thank you for taking the time to share it with your friends or family.
We put a lot of heart and invest a lot of time trying to bring you the most interesting articles.
You would encourage us to do it even better in the future. Thank you!