Marseille’s opening Ligue 1 game of the season was rather bittersweet as they surrendered a 3-1 lead to only bring home a single point from Corsica. A Gignac brace and Romaric OG had given OM the upper hand but a late resurgence from Bastia ensured the spoils where shared between 2 of Ligue 1’s newest managers.
Sat 9th August – 20:00
SC Bastia 3v3 Marseille
(Maboulou 2, Tallo: Gignac 2, Romaric OG)
Stade Armand Cesari, Bastia, Corsica – Att. 15,537
Sparagna Nkoulou Morel
Dja Djedje Payet Mendy
Thauvin Gignac Alessandrini
Subs: Samba, Abergel, Mendes (>46 Sparagna), Cheyrou, Ayew (>60 Alessandrini), Batshuayi (>79 Payet), Porsan-Clemente
After a calm and respectful minutes applause in remembrance of the Furiani stadium disaster (read here), the game started in a fast and frenetic manner, with a hostile reception from the Corsican fans. The hosts started well, providing OM with some tough tackles, and creating some early half chances.
In the 8th minute they made this count as OM failed to clear their lines, Maboulou speculatively shot from 30 yards. His tremendously struck half-volley managed to dip just over Mandanda’s head giving the hosts the opening goal.
Only 2 minutes later though a well delivered cross from the left by Mendy was met perfectly by Gignac as he headed past Areola. The goal had come after OM had started to compose themselves a little more, with passes finding their intended target, and players running better with the ball.
Marseille then took the lead 5 minutes later as a Thauvin strike was deflected into his own goal by Romaric. Thauvin had picked up the ball on the OM right, and after skipping infield past a Bastia defender struck a shot with his left foot. As Romaric tried to clear, his wild swing sliced the ball past Areola.
The game continued in much the same way, with some ‘firm’ challenges and free-kicks being given away. On 21 minutes though, Bastia’s Diakite took this to the next level. As the ball was about to be met by Alessandrini’s head, Diakite dove in elbow first winning the ball but clattering Alessandrini at the same time. Referee Lionel Jaffredo deemed the incident only worthy of a yellow card, but Diakite should consider himself very lucky to have remained on the pitch.
It could be said that the referee’s failure to deal with that lead to further discipline issues later. After a very high challenge on Payet by Squillaci, Bastia captain Cahuzac then raised his hands to Gignac in the aftermath. Jaffredo decided that both incidents were not worthy of punishment.
Just before halftime Alessandrini did manage to round Areola and score but he had strayed offside just before Imbula played an excellent through-ball.
Squillaci was involved in the first major incident of the 2nd half too. His raised arms blocked a Gignac cross and Jaffredo immediately awarded the spot kick. Gignac tucked away the spot kick neatly into the bottom corner that ensured Areola had no chance despite correctly diving to his left.
Before OM could enjoy their 2 goal advantage, Bastia claimed a penalty of their own. Mendy stupidly had his arms wrapped around Maboulou and pulled the Bastia striker back as he turned ready to face Mandanda. Tallo stepped up to take the spot kick and sent Mandanda the wrong way and reduce the score to 2-3.
Maboulou was again involved on 73 minutes, when he grabbed the game’s final equaliser. As he powered into the OM penalty area, he kept possession of the ball with a lucky bounce, but the OM defending from Nkoulou and Morel was very sloppy. As the Marseille players ran into each other and failed to clear the ball or tackle, Maboulou managed to find space beyond the melee and shoot past Mandanda.
As the game crept towards full time both sides continued to probe for a potential winner, though fatigue started to play a part. Players struggled to get back into positions but many final balls were inaccurate and neither ‘keeper was really troubled.
As with Marseille’s other draw (pre-season 1-1 with Bari), OM will feel disappointed that they could not claim a win. They will rightly feel aggrieved by poor referee decisions again, but can be relatively satisfied with tacking a good point from a determined squad fighting for their new manager, at a venue where Marseille have historically struggled. Bielsa will is likely to have the team working hard on the training ground ahead of next week’s Velodrome opener against Montpellier. There was a great deal of ‘sloppy’ play from OM, and a lack of leadership in defence which was hugely evident in the Bastia equaliser for 3-3.
Ligue 1 Results:
Reims 2-2 psg
Evian 0-3 Caen
Guingamp 0-2 Saint-Etienne
Lille 0-0 Metz
Montpellier 0-1 Bordeaux
Nantes 1-0 Lens
Nice 3-2 Toulouse
Lyon 2-0 Rennes
Monaco 1-2 Lorient