Having beaten the Bundesliga’s 4th placed team on Saturday, it was clear that Wednesday’s game against Jorge Jesus’, 2014 league and cup double winning Benfica, would provide a much sterner test. Jesus has managed to get the Eagles working as a cooperative and cohesive unit, impressing many on their European travels over the past few seasons.
Wed 23rd July – 20:00
Marseille 2-1 Benfica (Gignac, Batshuayi; Gaitan)
Stade Gabriel-Montpied, Clermont
Romao Lemina Mendes
Thauvin Payet Alessandrini
Subs: Sparagna, Morel, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Porsan-Clement, Batshuayi
Playing in Clermont there was a full house in attendance for the second OM friendly of the summer. Starting with a similar formation that comprehensively beat Bayer04 days earlier, Bielsa’s OM started well. Thauvin had the pick of the chances during the opening exchanges before Benfica opened the scoring.
The first goal came through a defensive error between Romao and Mendes, with Gaitan punishing OM as he beat Samba from the edge of the area.
Marseille stayed focussed though, keeping their position and discipline that had served them so well in the previous game. Once again it was Payet who was the instigator, perhaps benefiting from the extra attention that Thauvin and, ex-Clermont man, Alessandrini were being given. Payet added to his assist tally through a superb corner in the 20th minute which Gignac expertly dispatched.
The game was a good physical encounter with Dja Djedje and Thauvin for OM, Gaitan and Talisca for Benfica picking up bookings in the opening half. Although Bielsa may be a little annoyed with some slips in self-discipline for these bookings and set-pieces that were given away, it does demonstrate just how competitive a game this was throughout.
Bielsa made 2 changes at half time bringing on Sparagna, for his first team debut, replacing Lemina and Batshuayi replacing Gignac. After almost finding the net on his debut. Batshuayi only had to wait 10 minutes to get his first OM goal. Another beautifully weighted through-ball from Payet saw the Belgian take the ball round Moraes before slipping it into an empty net.
As the game continued to be played in a robust and competitive manner, one or two players over stepped the mark, namely Teixeira who was red-carded for Benfica after a poor lunge at Payet. Although Payet was stretchered off, and looked to be in some discomfort, he re-joined play shortly after.
As expected Benfica searched for an equaliser late on, but never managed to trouble Samba too much. Bielsa managed to make a few more changes including the introduction of Cheyrou and Amalfitano for Imbula and Thauvin, before giving Porsan-Clemente his first team debut. What a few months it has been for the youngster, having recently signing pro for OM after an impressive season with the U17’s last year.
A second successive win for OM under Bielsa. More impressively this came against much tougher opposition, and they came back from a goal down.
Pre-season pitch time (in minutes):
180: Samba, Dja Djedje, Romao, Payet
135: Lemina, Alessandrini
90: Gignac, Bathshuayi
71: Amalfitano, Cheyrou
1: Thauvin, Payet, Amalfitano, Gignac, Batshuayi
OG: Reinartz (Bayer04)
1: Amalfitano, Batshuayi