Tag Archives: France

ALLEZ L’OM! A visit to Olympique Marseille with Avalanche

Olympique de Marseille v Lorient

Velodrome

26th August 2016 20:45 Ligue 1
Stade Vélodrome, 3 Boulevard Michelet, 13008 Marseille, France

Last Christmas I was absolutely delighted to find some cheap flights from Lulsgate to Marseille, in that sweet spot at the end of the school summer holidays when the new football season has begun. The whole of France is En Vacance so there’s no risk of strikes and the mistral is down to a gentle breeze, almost making the 30 ° + heat fairly bearable. After a wet week in Wales last year, a family holiday in the South of France was something to look forward to, especially as I could probably factor in a trip to catch an Olympique de Marseille game. Yes some of my motivation for visiting this neck of the woods was OM driven, having been a fan from a far for many years.
Once the fixture list for the new season was finally revealed, I saw that we would see them lining up against Lorient from in the north-west France in Brittany. Purchasing tickets online from Bristol was a breeze – I selected a pair in the Tribune Jean Bouin (a French athlete from 100 years ago), clicked on the “Achter” button and then they were immediately mine to print out.

Jean Bouin

Fast forward several months to holiday time and disaster struck in the departure lounge. I realised that I had forgotten my tablet pre-loaded with loads of holiday reading material, so I panic bought some magazines which I will barely consume and a copy of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to re-read.

We were to spend our first 24 hours dans la Ville de Marseille before heading out west, on a train along the beautiful Côte Bleue to our holiday resort near Martigues. In this time we could see how important the club is to the City, spotting the OM logo everywhere and specifically on a variety of the distinctive white and sky blue Adidas maillots (replica shirts) being proudly worn. In the tourist Information office I booked a stadium tour for the day after the game and I managed to leave a few well-chosen Bristol City stickers round the place before we left until our return at the weekend.

Cut to a few relaxing days later, leaving the girls by the pool, me and my Son are heading back into Marseille for our football adventure. Spotting our shirts, a young French lad, who was heading back up North with his family after a week off, was doing his best to engage my Son with a few football related questions, but my lad did his best to pretend he wasn’t there – probably for the best as it turned out they were heading back to Paris and he was P$G. Being a long time OM fan, I’d already schooled my son that the Parisien team are to be respected as much here as we do Bristol Rovers at home.

Gustave Ganay

On arrival back in Marseille we made our way to our Airbnb near the stadium, which was on the brilliantly named Boulevard Gustave Ganay. We were afforded a fine view of the magnificent new Velodrome from our room and it was complete with mosquito nets which amused Avalanche Jr after I explained what they were for. After a reasonably confusing but entertaining conversation in Franglais with the host we headed back into the centre of town for an ice cream on the Vieux Port.

Much to my dismay I discovered that the tres grande Mural of local boy Zinedine Zidane on the Corniche is no more. So we hit up the local Adidas store, which has a fantastic tribute by a local graffiti artist to Zizou in the stairwell. The merchandise was more expensive than ever due to the Brexit effect – €90+ for a shirt is a little beyond my willing, despite my sons pleading, so we left empty handed. Taking a stroll through Castelane, heading back towards the stadium I remind Joe that his namesake (his middle name is Zinedine – my Wife was caught unaware in the hours following his birth) heralds from this very area. Maybe he’s just taking it all in but he doesn’t seem that impressed.

Zidane

Supporters ShopOnce we made it back up to the Boulevard Michelet, the place was a little busier with OM shirts everywhere. We made a visit to the official club superstore, where my favourite piece of tat was a pair of 3D OM boxer shirts complete with glasses. No I didn’t understand the point either. I was tempted by a full size replica of the European Cup, but it close a few zeros more € than I had at my disposal. (Incidentally Marseille are the only French club ever to have won it – something fans like to remind those in Pari$ whenever possible.) We then headed over the road to the Ultras own shop (pictured above), at the foot of a massive block of flats opposite the stadium. This was a refreshing place after the clinical interior of the official, Adidas sponsored shop we had just escaped form – there was a great level and variety of stock, from t-shirts, scarves and badges  Some fantastic anti-P$G stuff was on display) and the whole organisation was impressive – it puts most official club so called “super shops” to shame.

Back outside, after I had strategically placed a BCFC Away Days sticker, we sat down for a Velo 2quick glass of Ricard at the amusingly titled “Le Fair Play pub”. Ricard is a type of Pastis, which is an aniseed flavoured aperitif, best consumed diluted with water, ice and hot weather. It’s incredibly popular in Marseille and everyone was at it – the beer drinking (La Cagole, a popular malty + fizzy local brew was my favourite) seems to happen after the game. A few locals were curious about our accents and once they found out we were English it was all about the local legend that is Chris Waddle. His name was the first two words anyone said to us when they discovered our origin. There was also talk of Joey Barton, who is a minor cult hero after his season long loan here a few years back.

Waddle

Refreshed, we had a few Kodak moments before making our way up the ginormous mass of steps to the foot of the stadium and made our way into the stadium through the Kiddies Haribo section – I presume this was to get the younger fans as suitably wired as the adults. A very smart looking lady (airline hostess standard) handed us a free program each and escorted us to our seats.

MLD

With 30 minutes to go before kick-off, the two Ultra groups at both ends were already in action and produced a constant wall of sound until the very end of the game. Their positive enthusiasm for the duration of the game was refreshing, despite the protests that were also happening, targeted at owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus. MLDGO signs were everywhere (inside and outside) and the Virage Sud Ultras displayed a massive strongly worded, sign which spanned the whole width of the Velodrome. Fans seemed to be very unhappy about the owner’s lack of interest in their club. Days after, their wish was granted and she was selling the whole concern to an American investor. The game was poorly attended with the reported number being 26193, with many fans were staying away in protest. Despite this, the atmosphere was electric and after the teams walked out to Jump by Van Halen (which sounded better than you’d think) we didn’t know if we should be watching the game or the fans! My son was particular transfixed with the fat bloke stood on a purpose built platform, with his back to the pitch shouting instructions out through a megaphone.

The game itself went well, with OM recording their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory. The first goal came from a particularly impressive free kick from Cabella and Swansea loanee Gomis, who was an absolute joy to watch play.

It was a late night for both of us – French games typically kick of at 9pm, which I was thankful for it was still absolutely baking inside. Next morning, after a quick espresso and a pain au chocolate – we reported for duty at 09:30 for a stadium tour before catching a train from the Gare St Charles back to our holiday in Martiques. We did manage to get a few good photos of my son in his City shirt for hopeful inclusion in the programme once we got home – check the Leeds edition!
I did afford myself a quick glance back over the city from the fine vantage point that is on offer at the top of the steps in front of the station and said a quiet au revoir. Marseille is an amazing city whose inhabitants are a credit to it. And it’s easier to listen to the local’s lingo down here, as they speak a little slower! Everything you’ve heard is wrong and the Marseillais are friendly as Parasians are rude!

Fam

The author and his son!

by Avalanche (with a little help from his Editor ;o)

 

NB: This peace originally appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition, of Bristol City fanzine, The Bountyhunter (@BountyhunterBC)

 

Marseille v Ajaccio – 15/03/13 – Match Preview

Fri 15/03/13 – 19:30 (UK – Replayed on ESPN 07:45 Sat)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Nicola Rainville

 

Background –

Marseille play on a rare Friday evening as they look to keep hold of 3rd place, taking on mid-table AC Ajaccio. A disciplined performance ensured that OM weren’t beaten by OL last Sunday although les Phoceens will be disappointed that they didn’t take all 3 points after dominating large parts of the game. A draw may have been fair on reflection, and it also takes the pressure off a 1st place finish, perhaps allowing OM to concentrate on keeping hold of a Champions League place. A Champions League place is imperative now given recent reports from within the camp that both Valbuena and Nkoulou would be more likely to leave without the promise of Champions League matches, and also given the recent publications from the excellent ‘Swiss Ramble’ showing the difference between Champions League and Europa League in terms of incoming revenue for French teams.

The 2 goals from Andre Ayew in lasts season’s week 11, 2-0 win for Marseille coincided with their dramatic mid-season turnaround, and given the history between the 2 teams Marseille certainly have the upper hand with 8 wins to Ajaccio’s 1 at the Stade Velodrome.

 

Marseille –

The bore-draw against Lyon could be seen as a negative, however, I would like to think of the positives that the team, players and fans could take from this. Defensively, Marseille were disciplined, giving away very little and allowing Lyon few clear-cut chancers on goal. Many in the media have criticised Marseille as becoming a ‘boring team’ (I still feel that Toulouse and Bordeaux wear that crown), but Elie Baup has managed well with what he has. Attacking wise, OM have looked far more interesting with the inclusion of Sougou along with the effervescent Valbuena. Defensively we have looked a little suspect throughout the season, but as Romao or Cheyrou continue to develop an ever improving partnership with Barton, it is surely only a matter of time before the possession play and link up between defensive and attack becomes a great deal more pleasing on the eye.

Elie Baup is still without Amalfitano (knee), but Morel and Cheyrou are still expected to feature despite recent knocks. The Full squad consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.

Given Ajaccio’s weaknesses it would seem this is another game to get Valbuena and Sougou running at the opposition defence. Attacking with pace has caused ACA a number of problems this season and OM should look to exploit this, particularly at home.

Likely starting line-up:

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Who are they? –

Former Marseille man Albert Emon brings his Ajaccio team to the Velodome hoping to pick up their first win in 8 years there. Having won the Ligue as OM’s striker in 71-72, he never managed to lift any silverware when in charge managing runners up spot and a French cup final spot too.

Emon will be without the suspended  Andre and Oliech, along with the injured Oberhausser and Pierazzi. Althou Chalme returns from suspension.

Ajaccio come into this game having lost 2 of their last 3 games and have won only 1 in their last 4, beating Lorient last week 1-0. They sit 12th in the away ligue tables having won only 2 of their 14 away games, drawing 6 and losing a further 6.

Ajaccio can be deadly on the counter attack, so this is something that OM must look out for if they keep the same high defensive line adopted in a number of the recent matches.  Set pieces have also challenged Ajaccio’s oppenents this season, and we don’t need to be reminded about Marseille’s weakness to these!

Likely Ajaccio line up and formation:

Ochoa

Lippini Zubar Poulard Bouhours

Mostefa Lasne

Belghazouani Cavalli Sammaritano

Mutu

 

Summary –

A win for Marseille will help keep them in position for a Champions League spot, which is perhaps realistically the best that can be hoped for this season. Given that Lyon have a tricky trip to Bastia and psg and Saint-Etienne could cancel each other out, this could be a great weekend for Marseille, however they need to start it well and that would come through a convincing win and performance.

 

Predicted score: Marseille 3-0 Ajaccio  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.44

Draw 4.00

Ajaccio 8.00

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Bastia v Lyon

Lille v Evian

Lorient v Brest

Montpellier v Troyes

Reims v Rennes

Sochaux v Valenciennes

Nancy v Nice

Toulouse v Bordeaux

Saint-Etienne v psg

Lyon v Marseille – 10/03/13 – Match Preview

 

OL v OM Olympico

Sun 10/03/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Gerland, Lyon

Ref. – Clement Turpin

 

Background –

2nd meets 3rd this Sunday in the race to see who can keep in touch with psg and stake their claim as genuine title contenders. Both teams have faltered when given the chance to keep in touch or extend a lead at the top this season, so there are a number of pressures with this game. A defeat for Marseille would surely end any lingering hopes of challenging for the title, whereas a defeat for Lyon would put them 5 points behind psg and it’s difficult to see the Parisians slipping up again this season. Of course, Marseille would also like to avenge the rather humiliating 1-4 defeat at the Stade Velodrome back in November.

Marseille –

After an excellent performance in Ligue 1’s ‘le classique’, OM were disappointing in the Coupe de France re-run, before putting in a more assured and convincing display against relegation strugglers Troyes last week. The 2 late goals that gave OM the win, suggest the match was more difficult than it was, the only downside being the amount of chances OM squandered.

After missing the last 3 weeks through injury, Elie Baup can welcome Benoit Cheyrou back to his squad, although he will find it difficult to break back into the starting 11 with January signing Alaixys Romao impressing in recent weeks. The squad that travelled to Lyon consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.

Expected line-up and formation: 

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Having been a direct replacement for Gignac in previous games, Sougou, was used as a right sided attacking midfielder when he came on against Troyes and was far more imposing in this position. He linked up well with Valbuena as Andre Ayew retreated into a deep holding role. His vision and pace directly resulted in both of Marseille’s goals and there is little doubt that without him, Marseille would not have won.

Although 4th in the defensive tables, Lyon do concede a number of attacking opportunities to their opponents so if OM can keep their shooting boots on then they may successfully find a way past Vercoutre. The link-up between Valbuena and Sougou will be key to this as the pair exploited the space left through Gignac’s drifting positioning and punished Troyes in a way Marseille have failed to do in recent games. A solid improving partnership between Barton and Romao/Cheyrou should also perform better against Malbranque than they did at the Velodrome too.

 

Who are they? –

Just as Marseille have surprised the media and fans alike this season, so have Lyon. Their efficient play has kept them towards the top of the table all season and despite the loss of high profile players before and during the season, youngsters and fringe players have stepped up admirably.

Just like Marseille, Lyon had a poor record at Stade Brest, and this continued last week as they could only leave Brittany with a single point after a 1-1 draw thanks to Makonda own goal.

Lyon are a very effective team and it is unlikely that focussing an attack on one discernible weakness would lead to success against them. Marseille will stand a far greater chance of victory through using all of their attacking options and arsenal against them. This will include; counter-attacks, width through aAyew and Sougou, individual skill through the centre through Valbuena, crosses and arial skills from Gignac etc. This along with far more resolute defending will give OM their best chance against Remi Garde’s men.

Lyon are likely to be without Gourcuff and Ghezzal, Reveillere is also a doubt. Gonalons and Fofana return after missing the Brest game. Likely line up and formation of Lyon:

Vercoutre

Dabo Bisevac Lovren Umtiti

Gonalons Fofana

Laczette Malbranque Lopez

Gomis

 

Summary –

A win in the ‘Olympico’ would do wonders for either team. OM have the most to lose from this game as a defeat would surely leave both Lyon and psg too far ahead to be caught this season. An OM win though, as well as retribution and revenge for the defeat earlier this season could give them the impetus and inspiration to put together an impressive end of season run and really push psg and Lyon all the way.

 

Predicted score: Lyon 1v2 Marseille  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Lyon 2.15

Draw 3.30

Marseille 3.40

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Rennes 2v2 Saint-Etienne

psg 2v1 Nancy

Brest 0v1 Toulouse

Valenciennes 1v3 Lille

Evian 5v1 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v0 Lorient

Troyes 4v2 Reims

Nice v Montpellier

Bordeaux v Bastia