Marseille clearly had other things on their mind heading into this home Europa League match with Cypriot champions AEL. With the big PSG classico encounter just 3 days away, Elie Baup decided to rest Gignac, Andre Ayew, Morel and Valbuena to the bench. The surprise was youngster Baptiste Aloe who was given a place in the XI, whilst Joey Barton as expected started in the centre of midfield. There was also a first start for summer signing Florian Raspentino who operated on both wings and also defender Lucas Mendes.
Marseille were to eventually go on and win this match 5-1, but overall that scoreline was very flattering. Indeed, this was generally a match of few chances, especially in the first half. Most of that period was played at a pedestrian pace and both sides seemed to have very little drive or energy. It was as if they were playing under roasting hot high temperatures or something! Clearly, OM weren’t in the mood to be expending needless energy and just preferred to knock the ball around slowly.
A goal didn’t seem likely at either end, but it was the visitors who went into a surprise lead around the 20 minute mark. OM have been renowned for their poor ability to defend set pieces in recent times and again this problem was to come back to haunt them here. They failed to properly clear the ball and Ouon fired home from around the penalty spot to make it 1-0. Truth be told, OM didn’t look like equalising but they managed to somehow claw themselves level before half time. From a corner of their own floated in by Joey Barton, Rod Fanni got on the end of it and headed nicely into the back of the net. Despite the match being very boring and little action happening, 2 goals had been scored by HT.
After the break, OM went ahead thanks to Lucas Mendes header on debut, again the origin was from a corner. Baup’s men were very clinical in this match and converted 4 of about half dozen meaningful chances they created in the 2nd half. Loic Remy added a 3rd, Gignac hit the post before adding a 4th and there was still time for Loic Remy to complete a brace in stoppage time. The final scoreline was 5-1 and on paper OM had run out as emphatic winners. But this masked a match in which OM weren’t really that dominant, they just got the job done.
Then again, they didn’t really have to be that brilliant here. All they needed was the 3 points and to regain some momentum after the poor 4-1 loss at Valenciennes. The south coast side weren’t really pushed and used up little energy in beating their opponents. I don’t think this match would’ve taken too much out of the legs of the players. As a bonus, Loic Remy returned to form, Gignac got his first goal for over a month, Joey Barton put in a good performance and Mendes also got a debut goal.
OM couldn’t have asked for too much more out of this fixture in preparation for Sunday’s big clash with PSG at the Velodrome.
Link to goals: http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000356/match=2009919/postmatch/report/?autoplay=true (Requires Flash)