Marseille fell to a shock 0-1 loss away against Troyes as PSG took over at the top of the table. Facing the worst defence and arguably the worst team in ligue 1, it was a nightmare night for OM. To top things off leading scorer Andre Pierre Gignac will be out for the rest of 2012 with a foot injury. There have been many highs and positive points for OM so far this season, but this was arguably the lowest low, even worse than losing to Valenciennes.
The prognosis heading into the contest was very positive for Elie Baup’s men. Most of the squad was nearing full fitness, even Diawara isn’t far from a return. The coach had the luxury of keeping Loic Remy on the bench along with some other decent options. I think its fair to say that this was the strongest XI and bench OM had at their disposal all season. Troyes meanwhile, but were completely depleted and missed many players to injury, especially in defence.
Troyes severely weakened in defence
Troyes’ defence has been made to look a laughing stock by most sides this year. In total, they conceded 19 times in their 9 previous games this year, looking very shaky in the process. They only had 3 available defenders for this game, surely OM would tear them open easily yeh? Actually wrong. Troyes were to keep an amazing clean sheet and arguably deserve it too. For once, Jean Marc Furlan operated some sensible tactics in Ligue 1 and set up his team to be hard to break down. Mostly this year Troyes have looked to play in an attractive and attacking way, which has been to their detriment. Whether or not OM were expecting this again who knows, but they struggled to adapt having to break down a more resolute formation.
Lack of OM penetration
Yes, OM did have more possession and yes some chances were created but after all the huff and puff, the only meaningful effort on goal in the first half was an Amalfitano shot which Thuram beat away. OM just couldn’t create clear cut chances and Troyes defended well and solidly. To make matters worse, Gignac had to exit in the 20th minute after breaking his foot and he probably wont return to action until 2013. At the other end, Troyes offered little threat but they were never in danger of conceding, 0-0 at the interval summed things up.
After halftime, a Valbuena free kick was well saved by Thuram as OM looked to start the period strongly. But it was Troyes who came closest to breaking the deadlock when they smashed the crossbar thanks to a header from a corner. Yes, OMs deficiencies from set pieces came back to haunt them and would later cost them dearly. The best chance the visitors had all night arrived within a minute of Troyes hitting the bar. Loic Remy found himself all alone at the back post, seemingly looking nailed on to score, but he somehow fluffed his header into the ground.
Troyes’ late sucker punch winner
OM kept knocking on the door after that attempt, but most of the shots which tested Thuram were from long range and once again clear cut chances couldn’t be created. It was a real struggle for Baup’s men to break down this supposedly ‘weak’ Troyes defence. OM were making very hard work of things but so often this season they had managed to get the job done and get a result when it mattered. Clearly the players believed this and kept trying right until the end. However, there was to be a late twist in the tale as Troyes completed a smash and grab raid to steal the points for themselves. As so often is the case against OM, the origin of the goal was from a corner which wasn’t properly cleared. Nivet picked up the loose ball and fired home low into the bottom right corner. That made it 1-0Troyes and you just knew there and then that they’d hold on to complete a famous win.
Terrible result for OM
Clearly this is a totally unacceptable result for OM. No matter whether you have ambitions to win the title, finish in the European places, or even just finish inside the top 10 then you simply have to beat a side like Troyes. Credit the hosts for somehow producing their most solid display of the season, but with them missing so many players OM are severely guilty of not taking advantage. A fair outcome probably would’ve been a 0-0 draw, so why were OM so dismal at creating chances? This is very unexplainable because every other side this year has torn Troyes apart and made their defence look terrible. My only possible conclusion is that OM came here thinking they had already easily won and were too over confident. Lets hope that’s the reason, otherwise this result doesn’t bode very well for the rest of the season.
Whilst they were undoubtedly unlucky to go home with nothing, everyone should be ashamed of not leaving Troyes with a comfortable 3 points. This could be a very costly result come the end of the season against a side that will likely be relegated, maybe even as the bottom placed side.
Player ratings and comments
Mandanda 5/10 Hard to fault him for the goal, he did little wrong (or indeed anything) throughout and was hardly tested.
Abdallah 5/10 Defensively assured and did get forwards well, but his crossing was poor.
Nkoulou 4/10 Seemed to lack concentration in this match and wasn’t really up for it. Also picked up a silly yellow card.
Fanni 5/10 Troyes never really tested him out that much, he did ok.
Morel 4/10 Solid defensively, but again much like Abdallah his crossing was woeful and final delivery poor.
Kabore 5/10 Generally played alright and nearly scored with an excellent long range shot. But against a side like Troyes you’d expect him to exert his authority more and dominate the midfield. He didn’t.
Cheyrou 4/10 Much like Kabore, he did ok but is capable of far better. He should’ve really controlled the middle of the park against such weak opposition.
Valbuena 7/10 OMs best player. He was everywhere as usual causing problems and trying to make things happen. He’s clearly very confident at the moment and looks sharp. Final ball could maybe be better though.
A Ayew 3/10 Its about time he started to play better because he’s been well below par this season. Wins and good performances from others have masked his deficiencies. He needs to step it up.
Amalfitano 4/10 Maybe wasn’t 100% fit, didn’t look all that sharp anyway. His crosses were generally poor and except for one decent turn and shot in the first half he didn’t offer much threat.
Gignac N/A Only played 20 mins before getting injured, had looked lively before that.
Remy 4/10 He needs to score a goal in the liguie to get his confidence back. To be fair, he looked better and relatively dangerous the longer the match went on, but he has to be downgraded for missing such an easy header at a crucial time.
Jordan Ayew 5/10 Came on and played the last 25 mins on the right wing. Added some energy to the side, but ultimately failed to make that much of a difference.
Mendes N/A He only played the last 7 mins, difficult to assess his performance.