Tag Archives: Marseille

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)

 

Labrune, Fit for Purpose?

Labrune

Irish Marseille fan Kevin Galvin (@shefellover93) questions OM President Vincent Labrune’s ability to govern one of the world’s most unique and passionate clubs.

As the dust settles on a charged Olympico derby, fingers are being pointed at those responsible for the terrible scenes that caused last night’s game to be suspended over 20 minutes, and will undoubtedly result in sanctions for l’OM and its supporters.

The source? Mathieu Valbuena; the former Marseille midfielder is currently in a lawsuit with the club to the tune of over half a million euros (£414,000) for issues arising with his agent. Valbuena believes that money he had to pay to his agent for breaking the contract should have, in fact, been paid by the club itself.

Valbuena’s lawyer says that current Marseille president Vincent Labrune made a ‘verbal agreement’ to pay the sum to agent Christophe Hutteau, and is now in the courts against Les Phocéens. The case was taken four days before the French international was due to return to the Vélodrome, before Valbuena himself was quoted as saying only the “true” Marseille supporters wouldn’t jeer him, and rather predictably, yet somewhat disturbingly his effigy was hanging on the roof of the Vélodrome as the teams came out to warm-up, a sign of things to come.

The game itself saw the hosts use what could comfortably be described as anti-tactics, trying to kick Lyon out of the opening exchanges, despite the fact that they themselves were more than capable of playing some decent football, as shown by Batshuayi’s great run leading to Alessandrini just shooting wide in the early moments.

However the narrative that dominated was some of the appalling and calculated fouling of Marseille. Remi Cabella was very lucky to have only gotten a caution after a dangerous two-footed tackle on Christophe Jallet. Valbuena was then taken out by Rekik, causing temperatures to rise on the pitch.

After Steve Mandanda just missed out the chase with Lacazette he brought the Lyon forward down, Lacazette converting himself to give Lyon the lead. The white hot atmosphere boiled over as Romain Alessandrini scythed through the back of Valbuena, and earned an admittedly harsh red card from referee, but again putting the attention, and the blame in the eyes of the Phocéens, on traitor Valbuena.

One man in particular that the blame is being put at is Marseille club president Vincent Labrune. The director’s comments during and following the incident have been pretty inexplicable, given the week that the club has been through. While Labrune isn’t known for measured response; videos of Marseille hooligans taking apart parts of Groningen before OM’s Europa League game against the Dutch side on Thursday, added to last night’s incident, the President’s reaction has been counter-productive, unprofessional and simply immature.

“I think everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror; I’ll be accepting my responsibilities as president, and I want everyone else to look at those at the Football Federation, the referees, and Olympique Lyonnais as well. The club accepts its responsibilities for the two or three bottles thrown onto the pitch”

But as the pictures show, it wasn’t just two or three beer bottles. Harmless paper balls were followed by a torrent of plastic beer bottles, and eventually a lit flare at Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopez, before the players were eventually escorted from the pitch, riot police followed to protect the playing surface.

This is the man that should be wanting to avoid this kind of incident; but instead of accepting the obvious problem that, albeit a minority, fans in the Vélodrome last night were unable to behave themselves and that the game was postponed due to their actions, he would rather deflect the blame on parties that had very little to contribute to the situation.

Labrune is allegedly the reason why the whole Valbuena incident has gotten to the stage it has, over a year after the midfielder left the Mediterranean coast. He refused to comment following the disgusting scenes of hooliganism in Groningen, and has now totally stuck his head in the sand to a problem which almost caused the first abandonment in a Ligue 1 match due to crowd trouble.

Not only has he not accepted his own responsibilities by not acknowledging the extent of the problem, but he’s trying to lay the blame on parties that have little-or-nothing to do with it. Insinuating that the referees were part of last night’s problem is extremely dangerous and irresponsible on two fronts. First, it undermines fans’ responsibilities, regardless of what happens on the pitch, it also undermines the referee’s job, and need for impartiality, regardless of his decisions.

The fact is that last night’s referee Rudy Buquet called the game as he saw it; Mandanda did make contact with Lacazette, and while Alessandirini’s foul was borderline a red, the fact that Valbuena was being kicked up and down the pitch meant that the man in the middle had to ensure player safety, and therefore clamp down on the antics that Marseille were employing.

Labrune then tries to blame the Federation, for presumably hosting the game, and then Lyon, for what, turning up?! The away side kept playing despite the detritus pouring down on them, and then re-took the pitch to finish the game, surrendering their goal advantage in the process, something which I imagine OL officials will have something to say about when the issue is brought to the LFP.

This is not the first instance in which Labrune has proved himself unfit for purpose; empty promises, spats with managers, suspicions over illegal activity and ill-judged comments have plagued his tenure since taking over in 2011.

Meanwhile a disastrous transfer window has seen some of OM’s biggest stars depart while only Abou Diaby (on the Premier League’s list of most inured players of all-time) and Rémy Cabella (A man that made little-to-no impact at Newcastle) have been the only ones brought in.

With Biesla walking out after the first game during Marseille’s disappointing start to the season, ill-discipline plaguing the side, and now almost certain financial and supporter sanctions to hit Marseille after bad behaviour both home and away; Labrune’s refusal to combat these issues, and his feeble attempts to deflect attention onto others forces Marseille fans to ask if he is indeed the right man for the job.

Marseille v Bastia – 13/09/15 – Match Preview

OM SCB

Excitement, elation, disappointment and despair, just an average 2 weeks as a Marseille fan it feels. After the highs of the emphatic 6-0 win over Troyes there was the lacklustre defeat at the hands of Guingamp, the end of the transfer window promising much, only to be left deflated with the lack of signings that we really needed.

After an international break where those who weren’t on international duty travelled to Slovakia to face Spartak Trnava, Michel will hopefully have managed to spend more time with his squad getting to know them and working on some of the failings that halted our progress against Guingamp. Without Batshuayi around for the last week, he will also have got an idea of awaits between now and January should the Belgian international get injured.

Having struggled to get past a deep lying Guingamp team last game, getting caught on the break twice and creating little to nothing in the final third in our previous game, there has to be a clear sight for improvement from Michel and the OM team. If Diarra is playing deep and protecting the defence (when under pressure) as he has in previous outings, Allesandrini and Cabella ought to stay out wide around the half-way line with a view to attacking down the wings, a contrast to Bastia’s preference to attacking down the middle before spreading out wide further up the field, finding width on the Velodrome’s pitch which did not appear to be there in Guingamp. Mendy will immeadiately support Cabella and these two should be the 2 to aim for if crossing for Batshuayi, whereas Alessandrini could be used more for cutting inside, in which case Cabella could drop more central linking with Michy, and Barrada providing cover support from a deeper position.

For now, Michel has kept the full squad under wraps, with no definitive answer as to which of the new players will start or even be in the squad. The most likely inclusions would be Mauricio Isla and Lucas Silva.

Likely starting line-up:

Mandanda

Manquillo, Nkoulou, Rekik, Mendy

Isla/Silva, Diarra, Barrada

Alessandrini, Batshuayi, Cabella

Bastia have managed a fairly solid start to Ligue 1 this season, currently sitting in 6th after home wins against Rennes and Guingamp, whilst drawing with Lorient and losing to Saint-Etienne whilst on the road. Although the Corsicans won’t have any fans with them at the Velodrome, they do have ex-Olympians Brandao and Florian Raspentino in their squad, though they will be without Djiku and Kamano through suspension.

Bastia’s expected line-up:

Hansen

Cioni, Squillaci, Modesto, Palmieri

Cahuzac, Fofana

Ayite, Diallo, Danic

Brandao

As much as we said the Guingamp game was a must win, with tough games against Lyon and psg combined with the start of our Europa League campaign, it really is imperative that OM kick start the season now and begin to assert some sort of consistency.

Allez l’OM

@aswanny84

@MarseilleUK

Guingamp v Marseille – 28/08/15

OM team

Having started week 3 with their 3rd manager, no wins and the lowest Ligue goal-scorers, an emphatic win over Troyes took OM from the foot of the table and to the Ligue’s joint highest scorers, bringing some much needed pride and confidence to the Velodrome. Some excellent performances from new signings Diarra and Cabella along with solid performances from Mendy, Batshuayi and Alessandrini were the pick of the bunch, though everyone played their part.

The 6-0 win certainly hit the headlines, but as good as OM were, the second half performance from Troyes meant that as good as OM were, most Ligue 1 teams would probably have put a number of goals past Troyes as they completely collapsed and looked as dejected a side I have ever seen. So another week and another test for Michel and his squad. The result against Troyes will be quickly forgotten in aid of more ‘crisis-club’ headlines should OM fail to pick up a win over bottom of the Ligue, Guingamp, who have failed to register a goal or point so far this season.

Michel has managed to bolster his squad already with the loan of Real Madrid’s Lucas Silva, though he isn’t available for the match-day squad yet, Dja Djedje misses out through the injury he received before the Troyes match, so Romao returns to the squad after his suspension. Given the performance against Troyes it is likely that Michel will name the same starting 11.

The full squad consists of: Pele, Madndanda, Manquillo, Nkoulou, Rekik, Doria, Sparagna, Mendy, Lemina, Diarra, Sarr, Barrada, Romao, Frank-Zambo Aguissa, Ocampos, Alessandrini, Cabella, Nkoudou, Batshuayi.

OM expected line-up:

Mandanda

Manquillo, Nkoulou, Rekik, Mendy

Lemina, Diarra

Alessandrini, Barrada, Cabella

Batshuayi

A trip to Guingamp is never easy, OM have won as many games there as they have lost (3 each with 2 draws too), and Joeclyn Gourvennec will want to bring some cheer to the home faithful after a poor start to the season. After the highs of last season’s Europa League exploits, many expected Guingamp to make a positive start to this season without continental distractions, however, 3 straight losses to Nantes, Lyon and Bastia have left the club bottom of Ligue 1.

Life was always going to be difficult for Guingamp after losing last season’s top scorer, Caludio Beauvue to Lyon and as a result they’ve failed to find the back of the net so far. Their average of 4 shots on target per game, compared to OM’s 5 showing the difference a week can make to how clinical a team can appear statistically in front of goal.

Expected Guingamp line up

Lossl

Jacobsen, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Leveque

Salibur, Mathis, Sankhare, Giresse

Benezet, Briand

 

Coming off the back of such a big win, OM will have to perform well again. This will keep morale and confidence high amongst the squad ahead of tougher games (Lyon and psg in the next 5 games) and demonstrate to other teams and the press that the Troyes game was not just a flash in the pan.

 

Allez l’OM

@aswanny84

@MarseilleUK

Marseille v ESTAC Troyes – 23/08/15

OM.net

OM.net

This weekend brings around OM’s 3rd game of the season, with their 3rd manager of the season as they still look for their first points of the campaign. New manager Michel was appointed earlier in the week and quickly took charge of training sessions, pitting the pro team against CFA squad and made it clear that he requires some investment into the squad. The week also brought about the much expected departure of the inconsistent Florian Thauvin that brought in Remy Cabella as part of the deal.

Michel brings experience having managed Getafe, Sevilla and Olympiakos and has experience in European competitions. He is expected to play a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation that the squad should be comfortable enough playing. Immediate changes Michel brought about is the first inclusion in the match day squad this season for Doria, the hot prospect, whose purchase caused so many issues between Bielsa and the board. Frank-Zmabo Aguissa also makes the squad alongside new-boy Remy Cabella. There is no Romao in the squad who is expected to depart imminently.

The full squad consists of: Pele, Madndanda, Manquillo, Nkoulou, Rekik, Doria, Sparagna, Mendy, Dja Djedje, Lemina, Diarra, Alessandrini, Cabella, Nkoudou, Sarr, Barrada, Frank-Zambo Aguissa, Ocampos, Batshuayi.

Off the pitch the Virage Nord closed again after incidents at the end of last season, their absence from the Velodrome today will be the last as the Yankee Nord groups return to the terraces for the next home game.

OM expected line-up:

Mandanda

Dja Djedje, Nkoulou, Rekik, Mendy

Lemina, Diarra

Alessandrini, Cabella, Ocampos

Batshuayi

Troyes have picked up 2 sraws from their opening fixtures, both of which have came at home (0-0 GFC Ajaccio and 3-3 with Nice). This is their first Ligue 1 game on the road this season, and you have to go back to 2001 to find their last win at the Velodrome, having lost the last 4 and drawing once since.

In their ranks they have Fabien Camus who began his career at OM and has just joined ESTAC from Genk, new signing Chris Mavinga is suspended, but striker Brayan Perea has joined the matchday squad after his switch from Lazio.

Predicting performance and results is always difficult and with new signings coupled with a new manager who knows what will happen on Sunday evening. Let’s hope for some stability, a solid performance, and the introduction of some new signings (and old signings). I’m sure Michel has learned a great deal about his team during the week, and will learn even more tonight.

Allez l’OM

@aswanny84

@MarseilleUK

Marseille 1v2 Livorno (Friendly)

Marseille 1-2 Livorno

(Sarr pen.; Fedato, Maicon)

Pele – Dubois, Tuiloma, Andonian, Sane – Romao – Sarr, Baradda – Ocampos, Batshuayi, Nkoudou

Subs: Aloe, Abergel, Dja Djedje, Boutobba

Subs N/U: Escales

With only 2 players starting from the previous friendly line-ups, Bielsa opted for an inexperienced Marseille line-up against the Italian Livorno side. The defense in particular looking extremely inexperienced, however, it is some valuable game time for these players ahead of a season where they will undoubtedly be called upon at some point with a heavy fixture schedule with the additional pressures of Europa League football.

The first goal came once Livorno had broken down the right. The cross from the by-line was nodded to the far post by Fedato, and Pele could only watch helplessly as the ball bounced in off the post.

With the usual raft of substitutions at half time, OM brought on some more experience with Dja Djedje and Boutobba alongside Aloe and Abergel adding to their pre-season time (the latter just before making a move to AC Ajaccio).

After a clumsy pull in the box, Sarr stepped up to take the resulting OM penalty and coolly netted the equaliser.

Unfortunately less than 10 minutes later, Livorno had again taken the lead. Maicon with an excellent run from deep, playing a 1-2 before netting around Pele.  It did seem as though he was given too much space through the centre as he ran, and you would expect Romao to be protecting the centre of defence in a more disciplined manner, however this was a friendly with a vastly changed squad.

It will be interesting to see how OM line up and perform against last seasons Champions League finalists, Juventus, at the Velodrome at the weekend.

om-text-title

Pre season stats:

Goals:
Batshuayi 3
Thauvin 2
Alessandrini 2
Sarr 2
Ocampos 1
Boutobba 1
Lemina 1

Playing time:
Sarr – 270
Dja Djedje – 260
Mandanda – 243
Sparagna – 230
Barrada – 225
Batshuayi – 212
Rekik – 209
Ocampos – 207
Lemina – 195
Nkoulou – 180
Alessandrini – 180
Sane – 178
Nkoudou – 178
Mendy – 170
Aloe – 168
Tuiloma – 163
Thauvin – 149
Romao – 135
Pele – 117
Boutobba – 100
Andonian – 79
Dubois – 83
Abergel – 29

Antalyaspor 2-5 Marseille

Antalysaspor 2v5 Marseille
(Simsek, Chico; Lemina, Alessandrini 2, Batshuayi, Sarr)
Mandanda – Sparagna, Nkoulou, Rekik – Dja Djedje, Lemina, Mendy – Barrada – Thauvin, Batshuayi, Alessandrini
Subs: Andonian, Aloe, Tuiloma, Dubois, Sane, Boutobba, Nkoudou, Pele, Sarr
Subs N/U: Escales, Romao, Ocampos

After the defeat at the hands of Fenerbahce, it was important to get the pre-season on course again to hit the Ligue 1 groiund running, and that’s exactly what OM did as they swept aside Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor.
Despite the lack of difficulty that the opposition provided it was good to see more positives from OM with Lemina, Alessandrini, Thauvin and Sparagna in particular continuing to impress ahead of the new season.
As would be expected in an OM game, Marseille kept control of the possession well, showing that Bielsa will continue with this sort of game plan next term, though it will be interesting to see if his pre-season option of a 3-3-1-3 formation (as like last pre-season) continues into Ligue 1, whereas last year this fell by the wayside relatively early on.
OM started well and found themselves 3-0 just after 30 minutes. Well worked and excellently taken goals from Lemina and Alessandrini were followed up by a good strike from Batshuayi who showed strength and determination to turn the defence and shoot.
After a wealth of changes from both sides, Antalyaspor started the second half brightly and were soon rewarded with a well struck goal from Simsek. Minutes later though Alessandrini extended the OM lead with an excellent solo effort, akin to the likes he seemed to score at Rennes.
Sarr’s goal was another well worked goal as some neat play down the left saw Mendy cut a cross back and Sarr powered home the finish.
Antalysapor reduced the arrears just before the end, but it can’t take away from an emphatic attacking performance for OM. Bielsa will be buoyed with the result and much of the performance, but thankfully the acquisition of Manquillo will hopefully help to solidify the defence, who are still allowing the opposition in behind all too often.

om-text-title
Pre season stats:

Goals:
Batshuayi 3
Thauvin 2
Alessandrini 2
Ocampos 1
Boutobba 1
Lemina 1
Sarr 1

Playing time:
Mandanda – 243
Sparagna – 230
Dja Djedje – 215
Rekik – 209
Lemina – 195
Nkoulou – 180
Sarr – 180
Barrada – 180
Alessandrini – 180
Mendy – 170
Batshuayi – 167
Thauvin – 149
Aloe – 123
Ocampos – 117
Sane – 88
Nkoudou – 88
Tuiloma – 73
Boutobba – 55
Romao – 45
Andonian – 34
Pele – 27
Dubois – 22