Marseille continued their disappointing start to the Ligue 1 season after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to struggling Stade Brestois 29. Marseille were immediately under pressure after a Mandanda error gifted the visitors the lead after only 4 minutes. Marseille looked for an immediate response, however, until Andre Ayew equalised in the 20th minute Marseille had only created a few half chances. For the rest of the game neither keeper was really tested as Marseille struggled to create any clear cut chances against a deep lying Brest team who seemed more than happy to settle for a draw.
Although the game started in a bright Mediterranean sunshine, Marseille were left in the dark in the fifth minute when Poyet dribbled past 2 OM players before firing in a speculative shot from distance. Somehow the usually dependable Mandanda let the shot sneak in underneath him, in one of the weakest goals Marseille will concede this season. Marseille then increased their position of the ball, however, most of this was around the half way line and chances were few and far between. Morel looked positive with some searching runs down the left, and whenever Valbuena was in possession it looked as though Marseille might create some goal scoring opportunities. This came to fruition on 19 minutes when a neat overlap and one-two between Remy and Valbuena, played in Remy down the right who held up play well before neatly playing in Ayew who had the simplest of finishes inside the 6 yard box for his second goal of the season. For the rest of the first half neither team created any clear chances. Marseille either created a good chance with no one in the right area to complete the move, or delivered poor crosses and passes when the forward men were in good positions. Brest managed to continually find positions between Marseille’s midfield and defence, and just like their goal, managed to get some shots away from distance. Had Brest been a little more clinical in the final third they may have found themselves in the lead before the half time break.
The second half was played out in a similar fashion to the first. With neither team creating too many chances. The only difference was that SB29 seemed to be happy to settle for the point and immediately dropped deep when not in possession, making it even more difficult for OM to find a clear path through to goal. The game was crying out for changes and Didier Deschamps duly obliged on 61 minutes bringing on the rather unpredictable Jordan Ayew and Cheyrou, for Valbuena and Lucho Gonzalez. For me, this was a mistake. Until this point Valbuena had been the one shining light in the Marseille team, getting himself into advanced positions, playing some excellent through-balls in and delivering consistently good set-pieces. At that point of the game I would have withdrawn Lucho, who had one of his poorest games this season and put on Cheyrou. By ensuring Valbuena and Cheyrou stuck to the flanks they could have begun to attack the relatively weak Brest right and left backs, either playing in quality crosses or using the pace of Ayew and Remy to play balls into the channels for them to run on to. The impact that Deschamps had clearly hoped for failed to materialise, with only a snap-shot from just inside the 18 by Remy, and a shot over the bar from Amalfitano the only OM chances of note in the second half. Even a late attacking change of Omrani coming on for Diarra failed to change anything, and the game ended in what has to be a very disappointing 1-1 draw.
Marseille consistently struggled to string together passes throughout the game, which was not helped by Lucho’s uncharacteristically quiet game, where he would normally help link up play between defence and attack as well as the left and right flanks. A great deal of this seemed to be left to Valbuena who played very well. The substitutions that Deschamps made failed to make any real impact and only seemed to add to the uncertainty of the team who struggled to find team mates in any positive positions and regularly gave away possession through mislaid passes. The most disappointing aspect of this draw was the manner of the performance, where very few players seemed to wish to make a difference. This was evident in the stats of only 4 chances for OM against 6 for SB29. The crowd voiced their dissatisfaction at the end of the game with boos and whistles ringing out around the Stade Velodrome.
Monsieur Dupont will of course be happy with the result and Brest should take a great deal of credit for managing to limit Maraseille’s creativity and continually frustrate them throughout the game. Deschamps should probably be grateful for the international break and will look to work with his team on some of the defensive frailties they have displayed in the league this season, and build on the positive attacking displays they have shown in the Champions League.
The draw leaves Marseille in 13th place, which although is disappointing, is not entirely irrevocable and if the side can begin to gain some momentum after the international break they should still be able to look for a Champions League place as teams like Montpellier, Caen and Lorient etc. may start to fade further into the season. The draw also lifts Brest out of the relegation places and they will hope to continue that rise by gaining a positive result against SM Caen at home in week 10 of Ligue1.
Mandanda – 4 – At blame for the goal, and looked shaky throughout
Azpilicueta – 6 – steady game
Diawara – 6 – Helped keep the Brest attack quiet
Nkoulou – 6 – Tried to support going forwards
Morel – 7 – Some good searching runs forwards
Lucho – 5 – Very quiet game today
Diarra – 6 – Solid game in the centre
Amalfitano – 6 – Struggled to to create very much
Valbuena – 8 – Looked positive in everything he did
Ayew – 7 – Goal, and helped create some of the chances
Remy – 7 – Went looking to support others and was often out of position as a result
J. Ayew – 6. Cheyrou – 6. Omrani – 5.
OM MoM – Valbuena
(@OMarseilleUK & @Andrew_js3)