OM dropped out of the title race as they suffered a defeat away against bitter rivals PSG on Sunday night (0-2). It was a flattering win for the hosts and OM outplayed their star studied opponents for most of the game. However, at this stage of the season its results that matter the most, and the visitors failed to deliver in this crucial department.
The night will be remembered mostly for the hype of David Beckham. He was on the bench for PSG and was almost assured of coming on at some point. The whole media frenzy surrounding Beckham was embarrassing to say the least. At any possible opportunity the cameras were showing him sitting on the bench. It was as if the match actually took 2nd stage compared to the old dinosaur that he is.
Lucky deflection for PSG
On the field, OM suffered the worst possible start when Lucas Moura’s shot was deflected into the net by N’Koulou. The effort was going well wide and it was a very fortunate goal for PSG, but they were ahead. The hosts enjoyed their best spell at the start of the game and were the better side for the first 20 mins or so. Lavezzi had hit the post as early as the 1st minute and they looked pretty dangerous going forwards on the counter attack.
Gradually, OM came back into the game more though and by halftime were certainly looking like the most likely side to score the next goal. Elie Baup’s side were exploiting plenty of space on the wings, but sadly none of the wide players could put in enough quality deliveries. Mathieu Valbuena was imperious in the middle of the park for OM and was arguably the best man on the field.
OM always looked vulnerable on the counter attack though and their defensive line was simply too high for most of the match, especially in the first half. Key players such as Mandanda and N’Koulou simply weren’t performing to their capabilities either. The latter arguably produced the worst 45 minutes he’s ever had in an OM shirt and he was simply shambolic before the interval. The own goal was unfortunate, but it rather summed him up in the first half.
2nd half domination, but all in vain
After the break, OM dominated proceedings and clearly outplayed PSG, but they couldn’t find a way to get back level. They ran into a complete brick wall in the form of Salvatore Sirigu who made several outstanding saves to keep his side in front. Gignac was twice denied superbly, although on the first of these occasions perhaps the ex Toulouse man should’ve tucked the ball away. Andre Ayew thought he’d scored late on thanks to a fine looping header, but at the last moment Sirigu managed to somehow claw the ball away. It was very frustrating for OM who definitely deserved to get back level and weren’t rewarded for their efforts.
Clearly at HT some things had been said in the dressing room and a number of players came out after the break looking distinctly better. N’Koulou looked at his imperious best again, Barton controlled the midfield and made a number of excellent passes. Valbuena maintained his level and was the heartbeat of the side going forward, whilst Andre Ayew battled really hard on the left hand side with purpose fight and determination. What OM lacked was that bit of extra quality, especially in the wide areas where they had chances to hurt PSG. The wingers and full backs just failed to deliver enough decent balls into the middle and PSG were usually able to clear easily from most crosses. Les Phoceens were also extremely wasteful from the number of set pieces they had, often from excellent positions.
PSG rubbed salt into the wound when Ibrahimovic grabbed a 2nd goal in stoppage time. It was far more than they deserved, especially in the case of Zlatan who had a very quiet game and gave OM few problems. All the talk and hype will be of David Beckham’s involvement in the goal after he came on in the 76th minute. Time will tell if he’ll be much use to PSG on the field, although nobody can deny he will certainly be an asset for them off it.
Title race over, despite good performance
Overall this was a harsh defeat for OM, but also a crucial one. This was probably their best display of 2013 so far, and certainly their most committed. But this match was never going to be about who played the best, the key was getting a result. At the end of the day, PSG have picked up the 3 points and managed to find a way to win. OM need to ask themselves why they allowed this to happen and to make sure in the future they learn from this loss. The title is now out of reach for Elie Baup’s men, but they still have everything to play for this season, starting with another fixture against PSG in the Coupe de France in midweek.
This defeat hurts a lot, largely because it was undeserved. What OM need to do is bottle up this pain and disappointment, and make sure they use it as a positive for the future. They have to learn from this loss and next time make sure they don’t suffer the same outcome.
Come back stronger
To quote the great NFL linebacker Ray Lewis who made this inspirational speech following the Ravens’ emotional AFC Championship loss against the New England Patriots in Jan 2012
“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time. This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”
This was one of the great speeches I heard, and it worked. The following year the Ravens returned and went onto win the Superbowl. OM need this sort of spirit now and to come back stronger.
OM player ratings
Mandanda 4/10 – Lacked communication and authority at times.
Fanni 5/10 – Provided energy and drive, but his final ball and crosses were poor.
N’Koulou 4/10 – Complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. He was awful before HT, but excellent after it.
Mendes 4/10 – Without being too bad, he was never particularly convincing.
Morel 4/10 – Got into some good wide positions but wasted opportunities
Barton 7/10 -After a fairly quiet first half, he controlled the midfield after the break and became a key player.
Romao 4/10 – Had a match riddled with errors in the 2nd half especially, didn’t particularly shine.
Andre Ayew 6/10 – Fought very hard for the cause and was unlucky not to score
Kadir 5/10 – Not too bad, but one senses he is still settling in at OM and there is more to come from him.
Valbuena 8/10 – He was superb and the heartbeat of the side. Passed the ball beautifully and always a threat.
Gignac 4/10 – Should’ve scored at least once and really needs to hit the back of the net in fixtures like this.