Tag Archives: Valbuena

PSG 2-0 Marseille – Unlucky defeat in Paris ends title hopes for OM

OM dropped out of the title race as they suffered a defeat away against bitter rivals PSG on Sunday night (0-2). It was a flattering win for the hosts and OM outplayed their star studied opponents for most of the game. However, at this stage of the season its results that matter the most, and the visitors failed to deliver in this crucial department.

The night will be remembered mostly for the hype of David Beckham. He was on the bench for PSG and was almost assured of coming on at some point. The whole media frenzy surrounding Beckham was embarrassing to say the least. At any possible opportunity the cameras were showing him sitting on the bench. It was as if the match actually took 2nd stage compared to the old dinosaur that he is.

Lucky deflection for PSG

On the field, OM suffered the worst possible start when Lucas Moura’s shot was deflected into the net by N’Koulou. The effort was going well wide and it was a very fortunate goal for PSG, but they were ahead. The hosts enjoyed their best spell at the start of the game and were the better side for the first 20 mins or so. Lavezzi had hit the post as early as the 1st minute and they looked pretty dangerous going forwards on the counter attack.

Gradually, OM came back into the game more though and by halftime were certainly looking like the most likely side to score the next goal. Elie Baup’s side were exploiting plenty of space on the wings, but sadly none of the wide players could put in enough quality deliveries. Mathieu Valbuena was imperious in the middle of the park for OM and was arguably the best man on the field.

OM always looked vulnerable on the counter attack though and their defensive line was simply too high for most of the match, especially in the first half. Key players such as Mandanda and N’Koulou simply weren’t performing to their capabilities either. The latter arguably produced the worst 45 minutes he’s ever had in an OM shirt and he was simply shambolic before the interval. The own goal was unfortunate, but it rather summed him up in the first half.

2nd half domination, but all in vain

After the break, OM dominated proceedings and clearly outplayed PSG, but they couldn’t find a way to get back level. They ran into a complete brick wall in the form of Salvatore Sirigu who made several outstanding saves to keep his side in front. Gignac was twice denied superbly, although on the first of these occasions perhaps the ex Toulouse man should’ve tucked the ball away. Andre Ayew thought he’d scored late on thanks to a fine looping header, but at the last moment Sirigu managed to somehow claw the ball away. It was very frustrating for OM who definitely deserved to get back level and weren’t rewarded for their efforts.

Clearly at HT some things had been said in the dressing room and a number of players came out after the break looking distinctly better. N’Koulou looked at his imperious best again, Barton controlled the midfield and made a number of excellent passes. Valbuena maintained his level and was the heartbeat of the side going forward, whilst Andre Ayew battled really hard on the left hand side with purpose fight and determination. What OM lacked was that bit of extra quality, especially in the wide areas where they had chances to hurt PSG. The wingers and full backs just failed to deliver enough decent balls into the middle and PSG were usually able to clear easily from most crosses. Les Phoceens were also extremely wasteful from the number of set pieces they had, often from excellent positions.

PSG rubbed salt into the wound when Ibrahimovic grabbed a 2nd goal in stoppage time. It was far more than they deserved, especially in the case of Zlatan who had a very quiet game and gave OM few problems. All the talk and hype will be of David Beckham’s involvement in the goal after he came on in the 76th minute. Time will tell if he’ll be much use to PSG on the field, although nobody can deny he will certainly be an asset for them off it.

Title race over, despite good performance

Overall this was a harsh defeat for OM, but also a crucial one. This was probably their best display of 2013 so far, and certainly their most committed. But this match was never going to be about who played the best, the key was getting a result. At the end of the day, PSG have picked up the 3 points and managed to find a way to win. OM need to ask themselves why they allowed this to happen and to make sure in the future they learn from this loss. The title is now out of reach for Elie Baup’s men, but they still have everything to play for this season, starting with another fixture against PSG in the Coupe de France in midweek.

This defeat hurts a lot, largely because it was undeserved. What OM need to do is bottle up this pain and disappointment, and make sure they use it as a positive for the future. They have to learn from this loss and next time make sure they don’t suffer the same outcome.

Come back stronger

To quote the great NFL linebacker Ray Lewis who made this inspirational speech following the Ravens’ emotional AFC Championship loss against the New England Patriots in Jan 2012

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time. This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

This was one of the great speeches I heard, and it worked. The following year the Ravens returned and went onto win the Superbowl. OM need this sort of spirit now and to come back stronger.

OM player ratings

Mandanda 4/10 – Lacked communication and authority at times.

Fanni 5/10 – Provided energy and drive, but his final ball and crosses were poor.

N’Koulou 4/10 – Complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. He was awful before HT, but excellent after it.

Mendes 4/10 – Without being too bad, he was never particularly convincing.

Morel 4/10 – Got into some good wide positions but wasted opportunities

Barton 7/10 -After a fairly quiet first half, he controlled the midfield after the break and became a key player.

Romao 4/10 – Had a match riddled with errors in the 2nd half especially, didn’t particularly shine.

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Fought very hard for the cause and was unlucky not to score

Kadir 5/10 – Not too bad, but one senses he is still settling in at OM and there is more to come from him.

Valbuena 8/10 – He was superb and the heartbeat of the side. Passed the ball beautifully and always a threat.

Gignac 4/10 – Should’ve scored at least once and really needs to hit the back of the net in fixtures like this.

November Player of the Month

Jordan Ayew PotM

In a rather inconsistent month for Marseille, there were thankfully some OM players who managed to remain slightly more consistent than others. Valbuena and Mandanda were a close 2nd and 3rd in our vote for November’s player of the month, but the clear winner was Jordan Ayew.

With Andre-Pierre Gignac out and Remy struggling for fitness it was left for jAyew to step in as the senior striker and he didn’t disappoint. Picking up goals in games against Ajaccio and Monchengladbach helped, but his performance and match winning goal against Lille will be what sticks in most people’s minds about Jordan in November.

Rumours were rife over the summer as loan moves to Saint-Etienne and Lorient were mooted amongst others, in a hope to see a talented, inconsistent and often immature players improve his game. Due to the lack of incoming players though, OM kept hold of Jordan and last month that paid dividends.

His performance against Lille was seen by many as a potential turning point for the enigmatic youngster. His potential has never been disputed, in fact many see him as being more talented than his sought after older sibling Andre, it’s been his mentality that people have questioned. The enforced inclusion of Jordan in the starting line-up lately though has been met with a sence of purpose and he has grasped the opportunity firmly. With such performances and valuable contributions in games it would seem difficult for Baup to drop jAyew even when Remy and Gignac are fit again.

Well done Jordan. Long may it continue.

Marseille 2-2 Nice – Match Report

Just 3 days after letting a 2-1 win slip to a late equalising goal at home, Marseille did exactly the same again, this time against south-coast rivals Nice.

It looked like it wasn’t to be Marseille’s day when Valbuena had an early penalty saved, however he made up for this in the 40th minute by providing the cross that Andre Ayew headed home to give OM the lead (despite being in an offside position).

Nice should have equalised immediately in the 2nd half, but referee Said Ennjimi and his assistant decided that Civelli’s shot from a corner did not cross the line. That should have acted as awarning for Marseille, but when another cross drifted across the box, Cvitanich was left unmarked at the far post to net for the visitors.

Marseille’s 2nd goal came as Andre Ayew’s shot rebounded off the bar and hit off the back of Ospina. At first it looked like the ball had crossed the line, but Ospina pushed the ball wide, only for Valbuena to make sure the rebound went in, 2-1 Marseille.

The equaliser for Nice came in the 88th minute and came through a lack of concentration in the OM quarters. As Nice broke down the left there looked to be little danger. The cross came and as Meriem’s shot looked to be heading wide, ex-OM man Abriel snuck in to net, unmarked from close range.

Goals & Highlights

Ajaccio 0-2 Marseille – Match Report

Marseille picked up their first win in Ajaccio for 9 years thanks to 2 second half goals from the Ayew brothers.

Although they took their time to get going, Marseille looked comfortable throughout the game. The players supported each other and played with a positional and possession-al discipline rarely seen in an OM team lately.

Andre Ayew’s goal came in the 55th minute. After some neat trickery down the left, Valbuena’s cross fell to Amalfitano, but as the Ajaccio defence cleared their lines, Ayew hung back and headed on Kabore’s header.

Marseille continued to dominate and never looked in any danger of giving away a goal, apart from a few set-pieces from Adrian Mutu.

Valbuena was also involved in the goal that sealed the win for OM. He picked up the ball to the left of the goal, crossed, and after Jordan Ayew had let the ball cross his body, he struck a low shot back across goal leaving Ochoa with no chance.

Giving the difficulty most teams have when travelling to Ajaccio, this was a very good result. To make it better, this was a very good performance from the team too.

Goals & Highlights

Marseille v Lille – Match Preview

Sun 25/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Delayed on ESPN)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Laurent Duhamel

Background –

After a European expedition to be forgotten for both teams, Marseille and Lille may now feel that domestic competitions will take their full focus as they try and prise psg’s grip off the various trophies available. After weeks of poor luck with injuries, suspensions and results OM at least have the positive of welcoming back Loic Remy from injury and Joey Barton is in line to make his Ligue 1 debut.

Marseille –

The Marseille squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Fabri, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mbow, Morel, Cheyrou, Kabore, Barton, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Raspentino, J. Ayew, Remy and Jobello.

The worries over the fitness of Valbuena (back) and Nkoulou (groin) seem to have been overcautious as both were included in the official squad release. Both Mendes and Amalfitano miss out though so if Valbuena and Nkoulou suffer a set-back, the squad will be stretched even further!

The inclusion of Barton in the starting eleven is likely to give a much needed lift to the OM squad and fans alike, as Baup tries to re-discover some of the early season discipline and strength that gave OM so many victories. Barton can support the striking qualities of Remy, with his ability for lofted passes and crosses from wide and deep angles also likely to cause potential problems for Basa and Chedjou in central defence, although there are fitness concerns over the latter and David Rozenhal may deputise.

With out a doubt Marseille’s most dangerous forward player has been Valbuena in recent weeks, with some of his link-up play and close ball control just being a delight to watch. If he can keep himself on his feet more, he will really damage any team on his day, and if he attacks down the right avoiding Debuchy he is likely to see more success.

Likely starting line up:

 

Who are they? –

As mentioned earlier, Lille’s European form has been poor, and their early season Ligue form wasn’t much better. It took them until the 8th week to pick up their 2nd win, but since then their form has improved and so have their results. Last week’s defeat at the hands of Lorient can be taken with a pinch of salt as Lorient are one of those teams who can (and often do) beat anyone on their day.

Aurelien Chedjou has been Lille’s rock at times this season. His performances from centre back have resulted in 3 goals from 16 games so far. On the ground Remy may find it difficult to get past Chedjou, and may stand a better chance in aerial challenges. The class of Dubuchy should go without saying but Andre Ayew will have to play one of his best games of the season if he is to have much luck against him. Up-top, the enigmatic Nolan Roux can be an incredibly difficult striker to play against. He manages to get himself into good positions, albeit sometimes offside ones, and can lose defenders easily, although as his 3 goals from 12 appearances will tell you, he often lacks consistency.

Summary –

With the some of the other top teams slipping up this weekend a god win for either team would keep them within touching distance of the Ligue 1 summit (OM would be joint 1st, whereas Lille would be 3 points behind that). Once again, Marseille will come up against a team that can be disciplined and difficult to break down, however, this is often when they have done well this season. Joey Barton may just be the man to light the blue touch paper and re-ignite Marseille’s season. If he is to do this, he will need to put in his best performance in an OM shirt. Tight game expected, though probably entertaining as it is not broadcast live.

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 Lille   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 2.25

Draw 3.00

Lille 3.50

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 Fixtures

Saint-Etienne 1-0 Valenciennes

psg 4-0 Troyes

Reims 0-0 Brest

Rennes 0-1 Evian

Bastia 2-1 Lorient

Nancy 1-1 Ajaccio

Sochaux 0-1 Nice

Montpellier v Bordeaux

Toulouse v Lyon

MarseilleUK Fans Vote for Player of the Season

The votes have been counted up, so can we start by thanking everyone who took their time to vote for Marseille’s Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season. In the end it became quite close between 2 players in each category with Cesar Azpilicueta coming a close 2nd in the Young Player category and Mathieu Valbuena 2nd in the (Senior) Player voting. The winners were as follows: Continue reading

Marseille Player of the Season

Despite Marseille performing poorly on the pitch this season, and arguably not doing too well off it either with boardroom riffs and management criticisms, there have been a few shining lights amidst the doom and gloom. A number of individuals have improved, and pulled out consistent performances. Continue reading