Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
Report of the 1st leg –
Marseille came into the match winless in 8 games and having lost 7 of those fixtures. The 1-1 draw at Nice a few days before was a slight morale boost, but realistically OM had played really badly there and were fortunate to escape with a point. Fans and everyone associated with the club were hoping that a CL match with Bayern would bring the best out of the players and that this surprise CL run might continue.
Injuries haven’t been kind to OM since the turn of the year and again for this game, coach Didier Deschamps was given a number of problems to contend with. Diawara is out for 6 months with a cruciate ligament problem, Loic Remy has yet to recover from his thigh injury, whilst Andre Ayew really needs some shoulder surgery to fix his problem in that department. Add to the fact that Jordan Ayew often seems to have some sort of niggle, and Andre Pierre Gignac genuinely looks like a fatter bastard than ever before!
Deschamps opted to field 3rd choice keeper Andrade for this game. In some ways I can understand that decision; Bracigliano looked really poor in the cup game against Quevilly, but playing Andrade was definitely a massive risk. He also started with Remy and Andre Ayew, clearly deciding to gamble in a big game like this one. The problem was that both of the latter two were clearly not at full fitness and their capacity to produce was certainly decreased because of this. Remy missed a massive chance to open the scoring after 6 mins from close range, he should’ve done way better.
The first half was largely uneventful, and OM could take heart from this. Bayern were expected to come here and dominate, but they didn’t prove themselves to be the clearly superior team. Yes, they looked better on the ball and yes they had more intent, but overall OM did a solid job. Unfortunately though, the hosts couldn’t complete the job and just before the interval Gomez was played through the middle. He got the shot on target, Andrade parried but didn’t do enough to prevent the goal. Really the goalkeeper should have done far better, let’s just say that Steve Mandanda would’ve definitely prevented the Germans from scoring.
In the 2nd half, OM started well enough and actually looked threatening inside the first 15 mins of it. They showed a high energy drive, but couldn’t find an equaliser. Andrade made a good save to keep it a 0-1, but there was nothing he could do to deny Robben from close range in the 69th minute and Bayern led 2-0. The rest of the match was pretty much a procession. Bayern controlled the game and OM never looked like getting a goal or finding a way back into it. It seemed like the visitors were never out of 2nd gear and probably could’ve scored more goals if they wanted to. The final whistle went and a disappointed Stade Velodrome crowd had to accept that this seasons Champions League dream was effectively over.
OM probably played better than a lot of people expected them to do here, but it still wasn’t enough. Bayern were better and I’d say they probably had a lot more in the tank if they needed it. The gamble to start Andrade backfired, whilst using the ‘unfit’ Remy and Ayew didn’t pay off either. OM now have 6 days to prepare for the 2nd leg in Germany, but if they turned this deficit around it’d be a miracle. Quite simply the team isn’t playing anywhere near well enough at the moment, and unless Mandanda has a superb game the score-line could get ugly.
Steve (@MarseilleUK and @meatmansoccer)
Marseille Team selection –
Having (over) generously been given the weekend off from ligue action, avoiding a game against table-topping Montpellier, Marseille have had a week to prepare for and fully concentrate on overcoming a 2 goal deficit against Bayern Munich.
First choice ‘keeper Steve Mandanda is available after suspension and will man the goal, bringing some confidence and experience that 3rd choice Andrade couldn’t provide at the Velodrome. The only other likely change will see the suspended Diarra replaced by Kabore.
Much of OM’s game-plan will be the same as the previous game trying to use the width provided by Amalfitano and A.Ayew to attack the Bayern defenders. Valbuena should look to support both players as well as the sole striker, Remy, as he will undoubtedly be free to roam where he pleases by Deschamps.
For large parts of the first leg, Marseille managed to contain Bayern successfully and looked threatening on the counter-attack. As Bayern will be likely to play with far more confidence in front of their own supporters, this is likely to be Marseille’s game plan again. Attacking wise, Azpilicueta and Morel must overlap and support Amilfatano and Ayew respectively. Defensively, Marseille must keep track of their men more efficiently. Both Bayern goals came from slack marking and players being dragged out of position, this is where Kabore and Mbia will help support the defence, although in order for this to be successful they must man mark instead of zonally mark, as the Robben and Ribery are simply too quick and skilful, and will slip through slack marking.
Bayern Munich –
Bayern played at 12th placed Nurnberg this Saturday just gone and managed to pick up a 1-0 victory thanks to a 70th minute strike by Arjen Robben.
Although Bastien Schweinsteiger is the only confirmed absentee, manager Jupp Heynckes may alter his squad knowing that 6 of his players are only a booking away from missing a possible semi-final tie. Any changes may benefit Marseille, as one of the weaknesses that @redrobbery offered ahead of the first leg was the lack of depth in Bayern’s squad.
So, Marseille travel to Germany needing a huge victory to progress to the next round of the Champions League, just as they did at the beginning of December when they prepared to face Dortmund.
Most already have this game as a write off, giving OM no chance at all. Current form agrees. However, no team is unbeatable, and on their day we know Marseille can be amongst the best. I hope for an all-out Marseille performance, thousands of miles away from the poisonous atmosphere of the Velodrome with protesting fans’ only supporting by default as they boo the opposition more than their own players. Away from the pressures of French media, away from every other team’s fans hoping for an OM humiliation despite them being the only team left in the competition offering anything positive for the infamous ‘coefficient’ ratings. More than anything I hope for some pride. This season has been abysmal, average and then just plain awful. Wins have been achieved as a result of other teams being slightly worse than ourselves, or ‘big’ teams bottling big games. Please, if this is going to be our last Champions League game for at least a season, give us something good to remember, give us a reason to be proud Marseille supporters again.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)