Monthly Archives: October 2015

Marseille v Lorient – 28/10/15 – Preview

After the international break, it feels hard to be up for the next game, against Lorient. Look back and we haven’t won in 5 games, are on the back of 3 straight defeats, 1 at the hands of Angers and one at the hands of Slovan Liberec, and another at the hands of that team from the capital. Add to that the punishment of stand closures from the Lyon game, which is still fresh in the memory, the threat of whole stadium closure and fine for this and you’ll excuse me if I’m not chomping at the bit for a Sunday lunch-time visit of Lorient (who last time we played them caned us 5-3 and ex-OM enigma Jordan Ayew bagged a brace and played out of his skin).

But then, I think back to that game in the capital. Another set of questionable decisions screwing us over, but actually that’s all that the performance had in common to previous years. On the pitch we had a squad, no a team, who actually performed to a level near their capabilities, gone was the usual OM squad who turned up and were blinded by the bright (spot) lights, disturbed by the glittery fireworks and blown away by the draft from all the plastic plastic-flag-waving supporters. Just like the OM fans, their team went out and just didn’t give a shit.

More of the same on Sunday would be nice to see from Michel’s team thank you. Play like that and 16th in the Ligue should soon become a distant memory, despite games against Lille, Nantes, ASSE and Monaco coming up. Perform like that and we should overcome the difficult trips to Braga and Liberec in the Europa League and should comfortably qualify for the next round. Perform like that and the OM faithful will be back on side no problem, as it would appear that Barrada, Cabella and Alessandrini are up to the task of filling big empty spaces from last year.

Michel has almost a full squad available with only Barrada missing from the usual first 11 team. Andonian and Isla also miss out.

Full squad: Mandanda, Pelé, Manquillo, Nkoulou, Mendy, Rekik, Rolando, Sparagna, De Ceglie, Dja Djédjé, Silva, Diarra, Cabella, Sarr, Romao, Zambo Anguissa, Ocampos, Alessandrini, Nkoudou, Batshuayi.

Expected starting 11:

Mandanda

Manquillo, Nkoulou, Reki, Mendy

Diarra, Silva

Alessandrini, Cabella, Ocampos

Batshuayi

Lorient head to the partially closed Velodrome having only suffered 1 defeat in their last 5, picking up a win on the road at Monaco and home victories over Angers, Caen and Bordeaux.

They sit 6 points above us in 9th after a solid start to the season, despite losing some key players over the summer.

Expected starting 11:

Lecomte

Paye, Kone, Toure, Goff

Jouffre, Ndong, Bellugou, Guerreiro

Waris, Moukandjo

5 Things Learned From Le Classique

So despite Marseille’s best efforts two penalties undid their good work and PSG extend their lead to the top by 5 points, the result means yet another win for the Parisiens, and Marseille are now just four points from the relegation zone.

But what else did we actually learn from the latest edition of France’s biggest derby? Kevin Galvin investigates.

1. Marseille still have fight

Les Phocéens came out of the block chomping at the bit last night, and had a number of good chances as they stunned Paris Saint-Germain for the opening 20 minutes. Alessandrini was getting the better of Aurier, Thiago Motta was kept quiet by Lucas Silva, and as Michy Batshuayi’s goal was more than deserved when it came.

After the disappointment before the half OM hung in, and even more satisfyingly for Michel won themselves a penalty; while the ultimate result was a loss for Marseille the signs are far more positive than following their insipid displays against Angers and Slovan Liberec during the week.

However, Michel’s side are still just four points ahead of the relegation zone, and will need to take full points from their next four games against Lorient, Lille, Nantes and Nice to bolster their position before facing Saint Étienne away on November 21st.

2. PSG can win dirty

It wasn’t a vintage performance by PSG by any means, but the Parisians crucially got the three points against a Marseille side who arguably played their best football of the season at the Parc de princes.

Laurent Blanc’s side showed their resolve; they came from behind to beat Nantes 4-1 last week, and despite not dominating in the way that they did last week in Stade de la Beaujoire, PSG earned another crucial three points in their bid to win the title for a third season in a row, and have dropped only four points from their first nine games.

3. PSG’s new signings can do it in the big games

Apart from the two penalties, Zlatan Ibrahimovic did very little in last night’s game, having an unusually small impact in a Classique encounter. However, that was compensated by the two fantastic performances of their big summer signings, Angel Di Maria, and Kevin Trapp.

Di Maria was at the centre of everything good for the hosts, and absolutely roasted Paolo De Ceglie down the right hand flank, often linking up with Aurier and Maxwell, and having a big impact on both PSG penalties. The Argentinean scored last year, and is already proving a handful for French defences, Blanc will hope that the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star can do the same in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.

Kevin Trapp meanwhile was PSG’s biggest hero of the night, saving the penalty that would have given Marseille a point, and with moments remaining in the game the German positioned himself perfectly to save from Cabella when it seemed certain that the visitors would be leaving with a point. In all Trapp had five saves, and was voted man of the match.

4. Pressing is they key in Paris

One of the keys to Marseille’s early success was their energy and pressing of the PSG midfield. On numerous occasions Le Phocéens earned themselves golden chances by closing down Thiago Motta in particular, winning the ball back, and countering with intent.

In the first half Motta was inches away from conceding a penalty after handballing Romain Alessandrini’s cross, while in the second such a break led to Abdelaziz Barrada being taken down by Serge Aurier for Marseille’s penalty, which, if converted, could have certainly earned a point for OM.

5. Laurent Blanc’s rivalling José Mourinho for entertainment value

Laurent Blanc is always worth a listen to in a post-match interview; honest, frank, insightful, the PSG manager was once again in top form last night, honestly admitting that the best team didn’t necessarily win, and that Marseille could feel very hard done by.

However, the quote of the night came when Canal + reporter Olivier Tallaron asked the former French international if he saw that Rihanna was in the stand to support his team.

“No, I think she’s looking for you though” he said before walking off camera. Microphone. Drop.

Cabella – a gamble not paying off

It’s 2:45pm local time and the eerie silence has just been severed by the piercing sounds of whistles on the South coast of France. With two sides closed off by the LFP, and the other two half-empty, le Vel’ has barely looked sadder in its 80 year history.

The whistles in the stands follow that of the match’s referee, Mikael Lesage, who has just signalled the end of Olympique Marseille’s latest disappointment in Ligue 1. The Phoceéns, who have lost the core of their side, their manager, their Ultras, and their fourth game in eight, now find themselves in 14th position after one of their worst ever starts in the top division.

It’s been a pretty tough 10 days for all those involved at the club, in a season full off disappointments so far; poor results against Toulouse and now Angers followed a 1-1 draw against Lyon, in a game that’s antics did more to damage the club than the point gained could ever repay.

More worrying however for the Phocéens, were the limp and insipid displays that followed on the pitch against Toulouse, and then on Sunday against newly promoted Angers. Fingers have been pointed squarely at Vincent Labrune, and rather unfairly in my opinion at Michel, come in to right a listing ship, but in truth much of the blame must lie with the players themselves.

Take the case of Remy Cabella; the 25 year-old had already won a Ligue 1 title with Montpellier, and signed a six-year deal with Newcastle United in 2014 and was expected to do great things on Tyneside. However, in reality the midfielder was largely disappointing, and with only one goal and two assists in 31 appearances, the Toon were only delighted to ship him back out on loan, and welcome Florian Thauvin, a far more consistent performer.

Cabella’s was Marseille’s biggest signing in the summer (Unless you count sicknote Abou Diaby from Arsenal), and it was hoped the French international would at least partly make up for the losses of Dimitri Payet, and the aforementioned Thauvin; yet nothing could have been further from the truth.

Cabella has done virtually nothing positive to contribute since he’s arrived in Marseille; six games, zero assists, zero goals. As a matter of fact, the only number to his name has been the two yellow cards he’s picked up, and the consistent low scores he’s been receiving on his player ratings. Conversely, the Corsican native has contributed directly to Marseille’s last two disappointing results, missing a sitter against Toulouse on Wednesday, and committing a criminal foul for Angers’ penalty on Sunday.

Angevian left-back Arnold Bouka Moutou’s run down the flank was threatening, but Manquillo had come across the cover, and with the visiting defender facing away from goal it seemed like the situation had been contained. That was, until, Rémy arrived, scything through the back of Moutou and changing the game. Having dominated the early exchanges and out-shooting their opponents 5-1, OM were now a goal behind and chasing the game in the second-half.

Cabella himself admitted his own poor form after the game in Toulouse, and perhaps his rashness in Sunday’s game was an over-zealous attempt to put things right; however as a now seasoned professional that expected level of maturity has been badly lacking thus far. It also must be said that the Gazélec Ajaccio youngster isn’t the only expected leader on the pitch who has failed to show the way.

Going through the squad; N’Koulou, De Ceglie, Dja Djé Djé, all players on Sunday who you’d expect to galvanise the side following the penalty, and all players who where nowhere to be found as Olympique’s lack of  backbone was plain to see. Romain Alessandini was watching from the stands, still suspended after a needless sending off for a brainless tackle on super-villian Valbuena the week before. Lucas Ocampos summed it up in the final moments; caught in possession dawdling with four team-mates unmarked in the area, the chorus of whistles were frankly merited.

It comes as no great surprise, however, as Marseille try to deal with the gutting of their side in the off-season, and though it’s still early, Michel will almost certainly have to target the next transfer window to make up for the trail of destruction left behind by Marcelo Biesla’s departure. Key players in key positions have not been adequately replaced, and the new players are trying to stamp their authority under extreme pressure, as the older heads, Steve Mandanda to name one, try to hold everything together.

Will things get better for Les Phocéens? Possibly. But with a trip to Paris on Sunday to face a supremely confident PSG, things are very likely get a whole lot worse beforehand.