Marseille opened up their ligue campaign with a 1-0 win away against newly promoted Reims. Both teams played well in what was an exciting game at Le Stade Auguste Delaune II, ultimately the difference between the sides was to be a superb Bruno Cheyrou volley. Overall, it was a positive performance by OM and a lot of good things were shown, although there are some aspects to work on as well.
Both teams lined up as expected and OM in a 4-3-3 formation. Jordan Ayew came in on the right wing replacing Amalfitano, whilst Azpi came into the team at right back. After some early pressure, Charles Kabore tested out Agassa with a long range shot and then Valbuena forced him to tip a free kick over the bar. Reims’ first dangerous occasion was in the 13th minute when a fine Courtet header tested Mandanda low down, and he had to save behind for a corner. OM have always looked vulnerable at set pieces recently and for some reason they lack confidence in the air. This was an area which Reims tried to exploit all night.
In the 20th minute, Valbuena completely missed his kick not too far out when completely unmarked and overall it was OM who had the better of the first half. It was Reims who had the best chance though, about 10 mins before the interval when Ghilas found himself all alone in the area not far out, but Mandanda pulled off an exceptional close range save to deny him. The defending and marking was awful here, so OM could perhaps consider them lucky to be level at HT. Nevertheless, they had mostly been in control so there was optimism for the 2nd half.
The visitors started well after the break and Gignac had a couple of chances. It looked like OM were knocking on the door but then from about 55-70 mins Reims had their best period of the match. It wasn’t as though they created massive chances, but just generally looked more dangerous by pushing OM on the back foot. The closest they came was through a Courtet diving header and a flick-on Ayite header which passed inches wide of the post.
OM managed to ride the min-storm though and were to eventually end the match much stronger. Andre Ayew was unlucky not to give them the lead in the 65th minute when his close range diving header was superbly saved by Agassa. Then 10 minutes later Gignac found himself free in the area and perhaps should’ve done better, but once again Agassa came to Reims’ rescue. Overall, the custodian had been Reims’ best player on the night and looked unbeatable. However, a moment of Cheyrou brilliance was to finally beat him in the 77th minute.
Kabore floated in a cross from the right hand side and the OM captain smacked home a blistering volley into the right hand corner of the net. Agassa got a hand on it, and perhaps a really world class keeper could’ve prevented the goal, but overall it was a lovely strike. The remainder of the match was fairly uneventful and OM held on fairly comfortably. Last season, perhaps Le Phoceen would’ve conceded a late equaliser, but that wasn’t to be the case here and they picked up the 3 points.
It was a good game of football and Reims showed they wont be any pushovers this season, especially at home. There were a few concerns defensively for OM, but like Elie Baup said after the game, the way Marseille are playing this season might sometimes leave them a little exposed at the back. The most important thing here was obtaining victory on the opening day, it would’ve been a blow to slip up against a newly promoted club, even if it was on the road. OM will now hope to maintain their 100% start next weekend against Sochaux at the Velodrome.
Player verdict and ratings :-
Mandanda 8/10 Made key saves at a crucial time and showed his class
Azpiliqueta 6/10 Considering his mind might be elsewhere, he did alright.
Fanni 6/10 Solid, if not spectacular
N’Koulou 7/10 Strong and bullish as ever
Morel 6/10 Just above average performance, did ok.
Cheyrou 8/10 Led the way in the middle and topped off his performance with a superb match winning goal
Kabore 7/10 Strong physically and battled hard in the middle alongside Cheyrou
Valbuena 6/10 Can do more, but still contributed enough positive things
Andre Ayew 6/10 Caused some problems on the left, although missed one big chance.
Jordan Ayew 5/10 Could’ve contributed more and was also booked stupidly.
Gignac 5/10 Got into some good positions but probably should’ve converted at least one chance into a goal.
The only substitute used was Abdullah who only came on for 2 mins+ stoppage time so its unfair to rate him.
Referee (Said Ennjimi) 9/10 Not often he will be praised this season but he did nothing wrong here, got all the big calls right and let the game flow well. A surprisingly good performance.
Official OMarseilleUK Man of the match :- Mandanda.
A close call between him and Cheyrou, but his key saves at 0-0 kept OM level, and this proved crucial.