Lille’s long 17 match unbeaten ligue run was ended on Sunday night as they fell away at Le Stade Velodrome, Marseille beating them 2-0. Taking all things into account, it was a deserved win for OM and the victory now takes them right onto the coat-tails of the teams battling it out for the Champions League places.
The standard of the ligue has improved this year. Much has been made about OM’s ‘poor’ season, but prior to this game they actually had one more point than they did at this stage last season, and only one less than the previous year in which the title was won. A good run of results before Christmas had helped lift things, but what had been lacking were genuine impressive performances. The year 2012 has started with the team looking much fresher and pretty much hammering Red Star and Caen in respective cup competitions. The big question, and what was needed was a top quality victory facing a big team. That’s exactly what they achieved in this game.
Marseille lined up in a very adaptable 4-3-3 formation. The most notable aspects were Mbia at CDEF, Diarra DMID and Amalfitano this time playing on the right hand side of midfield. It was Lille who started brightest in terms of passing and movement but they never created anything. Cheyrou should’ve given OM the lead in the 6th minute but fired over the bar when well placed. That opportunity was the only major sight of goal for either team in the first 20 mins. OMs passing was gradually improving though and they were looking like causing Lille problems both through the middle and on the flanks.
It really should’ve been 1-0 in the 22nd minute when Remy found himself through on goal, but Landreau made an impressive save. On the rebound, Cheyrou stuck a sweet volley which was cleared away by a Lille defender inside the 6 yard box. The pressure was mounting and LOSC were forced to clear another from off the line just minutes later. Lille didn’t really look like a team unbeaten in 17 games at this point. Defensively they were all over the place and out of position. Bonnart was at times a liability, as was Souare at LDEF. Even the usually reliable Chedjou was far from his best, whilst Rozenhal was simply in dream world all too often. It’s clear the visitors missed Basa and Beria a lot in this backline.
But surely the visitors could offer something going forwards? Well actually the answer was no. Hazard showed some glimpses or danger, Joe Cole fought hard, but apart from his shot on the half hour mark which Jelen ‘go in the way of’ LOSC didn’t have a veritable occasion. Talking of Jelen, well in my book he is quite simply just shit these days. He lacks confidence in front of goal, his first touch is often woeful. What the hell happened to the striker who was once such a hitman at Auxerre?!!!
Only another good Landreau save and a Cheyrou miss prevented OM from being 1-0 up at the break. They had been the better team but the score-line remained goalless. Just 10 seconds into the 2nd half, Lille had a mammoth chance when Jelen found himself through on goal. But surprise surprise, he finished tamely and Mandanda made an easy save. Cheyrou picked up a bit of a knock in the 48th minute which prompted Deschamps to bring on Brandao as a substitute.
The return of a legend/shitheap/goalmachine/useless idiot. Whatever you want to call this controversial character is up to you, but he was back on the field and OM switched to more of a 4-4-2 formation with two strikers. The deadlock was broken on the hour mark and it was a well worked goal. Lucho with a lovely pass, Valbuena terrific dink cross and Remy with a cool header into the corner of the net. It was 1-0 and nobody could argue with the score. Maybe the presence of Brandao upfront helped give Remy space, if so then it was a smart substitution by Deschamps.
Lille finally showed some backbone and had a strong 15 minute period from 60-75. Hazard had a huge chance to equalise but failed to convert when played through the middle and Mandanda made a good save. Lille showed far more urgency at long last and seemed to have the bit between their teeth. This was the toughest period of the game for OM and some credit has to be given to Garcia’s men for their spirit during this phase. However, OM hung on and in the 81st minute a glaring Landreau howler allowed Remy to make it 2-0. The LOSC custodian made the wrong choice to come a million miles off his goal line, almost to the centre circle! Remy easily passed him and was left with an open goal which to aim at, he wouldn’t miss.
From then on it was a relatively easy ride until the final whistle and the sting was taken out of the game. To be fair to Landreau, before that mistake he had looked solid all night and made a few decent saves. He was woefully let down by his defence, which really was all at sea on some occasions. Hazard and Cole were the only visiting players who really caught my eye much. The midfield was ok, but not as imposing as it would’ve wanted to be. They had no impact players off the bench either, Payet hardly got involved, the same with Gueye. OM now only sit a couple of points behind Lille, but based on this match I’d be surprised if Deschamps men finish below them at the end of the campaign.
Man of the match :- Remy
Scored two goals, was often a big threat and just looked sharp overall. Suffered a couple of injuries but hung in there grimly, fighting right until the end. Terrific performance from the hitman here in front of the watchful eyes of Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp. (Btw Harry, sod off, he’s not for sale so look elsewhere!)
Valbuena – looked classy as usual and provided a great assist.
Lucho – finally passed it better and looked more confident, maybe and hopefully the start of a resurgence.
Brandao – just has to get a mention doesn’t he for simply playing 42 mins! Both goals were scored with him on the field too.
By Steve Wyss (@meatmansoccer)