28/07/12 – 19:00
Stade Jospeh Moynat, Thonon
Marseille: Mandanda – Fanni, Nkoulou, MBia, Morel – Kabore, Cheyrou – Amalfitano, Valbuena, A.Ayew – Gignac
Subs: J. Ayew ’70, Raspentino ’82, Omrani ‘89
Goals: A. Ayew ’15, J. Ayew ‘84
Marseille ended their pre-season campaign with a morale and confidence boosting win against Ligue 1 opposition. Evian impressed a great deal last season, looking solid after their promotion from Ligue 2, and never seemed to be in any danger of being relegated.
Elie Baup selected another strong starting 11, likely to be the team that starts in Marseille’s first competitive game in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round next week.
Marseille started well with Andre Ayew having the pick of the chances in the 14th minute with Laquait just managing to deny Ayew. But a minute later Ayew managed to find the back of the net flicking on a good cross from a Cheyrou free-kick.
Obviously nervy from throwing away leads in previous friendlies a failed offside trap allowed Khlifa to latch onto a through ball and slot past the advancing Mandanda on 25 minutes. Once again, although this is only a friendly it is something that the Marseille coaching staff and players must work on. We saw it time and time again last season and we have unfortunately witnessed it again in friendlies against supposedly ‘inferior’ opposition.
During the second half both teams looked for a winner. Valbuena managed to become more involved as the game progressed and inside the final 10 minutes some excellent trickery down the left saw the Evian defence make a rash challenge on him, winning OM a penalty. Replays would suggest that Valbuena went down rather easily, and this is something that he does on too regular a basis, that often sees officials and oppositions get fed up and therefore refuse to award legitimate free-kicks and penalties. However, Jordan Ayew stepped up to take the penalty and managed to send the ‘keeper the wrong way as he scored with great composure.
Although, once again, there were some worrying cracks in an otherwise positive Marseille performance, they still have 2 European qualifier games before the Ligue 1 season begins. A great deal could still change between now and that away trip to Reims. On the one side we could retain all of the current squad and perhaps make a much needed defence/defensive midfield signing, win both European games and be set up excellently to hit the ground running at the start of the Ligue 1 season. On the other hand, the club may receive offers too good to refuse for Azpilicueta, Remy/Gignac, suffer a shock defeat in the Europa League. With such a set of circumstances likely to see a drop in morale and confidence this could lead to a poor set of results at the beginning of the Ligue 1 season. Make no mistake the next few weeks are incredibly important for Marseille’s future over the next season or too.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)