The postponement of the match against Lens, initially scheduled for Friday at the Orange Vélodrome and canceled due to cases of Covid-19 within Frank Haise’s workforce, is it doing OM’s business? It’s possible. In any case, André Villas-Boas’ men have a week to erase or rather tear off the page of the ugly copy they made Tuesday in the Champions League against Manchester City (0-3). Because the performance of the Phocaeans did not make anyone laugh and earned them a plethora of mockery. Comfortable in the league where Olympique de Marseille is fourth, 3 points from Paris and Lille, the partners of Valentin Rongier – author of a catastrophic match against the Citizens – seem frightened in C1. Unable to raise its level of play when adversity requires it, OM is completely paralyzed from the moment the famous cup with big ears hymn sounds.
More than a question of physics, it is the mental aspect which therefore plunges the Marseillais. They know they are expected, seven years after their last appearance in the most prestigious of European competitions. But above all, they are afraid to display the same record as the last time and zero in the “total points” box during the 2013/2014 season. The men of Villas-Boas therefore no longer play to win but not to lose, as the scars of this disastrous group stage (with Napoli, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal) still seem sharp.
Two matches and already the ball in the stomach
Back in the Champions League this season, OM is already, after two games played, back to the wall. And again, the specter of the bubble springs up. But it’s hard to complain about the formation of Villas-Boas. First because she was stupidly surprised in the 91st minute by Ahmed Hassan against Olympiacos when a draw stretched out her arms. And also because the state of mind displayed as well as the team composition aligned by AVB against City, are absolutely not compatible with the requirement of the Champions League. Florian Thauvin’s statement on Tuesday night after the match sounded moreover like an admission of weakness: “To be honest, when you spend the whole match 30 meters from your goal […] it’s really hard to have the legs. So much so that the week of rest imposed by the postponement of the match against Lens, before the double opposition against FC Porto, the last member of Group C, is similar to determining.
If the cohesion of the group with the Portuguese is still unshakable, the captain of the Marseille ship seems more and more sensitive to the criticisms of which he is the subject. He knows he is expected in this competition, by the leaders and the fans and his exit, after the match on Tuesday, said a lot about his state of mind: “Marseille has no money to bring Guardiola here. Unfortunately, you have AVB with this tactic. “ With one less game to go before going to Porto, the Olympians should be physically fresh for this third Champions League match. But it is especially in the head that the bulk of the work remains to be done.