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Benfica-Marseille: the Europa League, last glimmer of hope and happiness for OM

It's a bit like a marathon full of pitfalls and, as the last kilometer approaches, unless they suddenly learn to fly, the Olympique de Marseille knows that they will not achieve the objective they have set.

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Benfica-Marseille: the Europa League, last glimmer of hope and happiness for OM

It's a bit like a marathon full of pitfalls and, as the last kilometer approaches, unless they suddenly learn to fly, the Olympique de Marseille knows that they will not achieve the objective they have set. 'was. He will even be far from it. Eight months ago, he aimed for the podium in Ligue 1, like last season, while hoping to pass the Champions League play-offs. He will have succeeded in neither one nor the other. OM, 8th in L1, are ten points from the top 4, and still hope to console themselves with an epic in the Europa League.

In the championship, the elastic ended up breaking. As their rivals were not advancing very quickly either, Marseille long hoped that their chaotic course would not prevent them from reaching the top 4 and the Champions League. But a new setback last Friday in Lille (3-1) established the obvious: the step is far too high for this OM.

"My feeling ? Anger. Despite an up-and-down season, we could still hope for something in these last six matches. But we gave them the match, we only gave gifts, we missed goals... We were rubbish,” summed up Marseille coach Jean-Louis Gasset, caught like Gennaro Gattuso before him by the weaknesses of a fragile and poorly designed workforce.

SEE ALSO – Vitinha’s opening score during OM-PSG on March 31 (0-2)

The Lille shipwreck therefore leaves Marseille in 8th place, with the 5th, 6th and 7th positions, those of the European folding seats, as the last objectives at its height. While OM have always played in Europe over the last four seasons, the situation is therefore very worrying and the end of the year could punish a club which has navigated from crisis to crisis this year and left all its coaches without solution.

In these conditions, and while we still do not know whether Marseille supporters will be allowed to attend the match on Thursday at the Stade de la Luz, the duel with Benfica now serves as the last real reason for hope. Because the Europa League offered OM its only satisfactions of the season and because the Lisbon club, shaken by Toulouse during the play-offs in February, is not going through a particularly prosperous period either. SLB was eliminated from the Portuguese Cup by Sporting on April 2, before losing to their Lisbon rival last Saturday (2-1), thus letting them slip towards the title.

History, however, is not on OM's side, with an elimination against Benfica in the round of 16 of the C3 in 2010 and, above all, the famous semi-final of the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1990, marked by the hand of Vata and a cruel elimination a few minutes before a European final. 34 years later, the prospect of a final still seems very distant, if only because in the event of success against Benfica, the level would still have to be raised one or more notches against Atalanta Bergamo or Liverpool in half.

But beyond a very improbable final victory which would open the door to the Champions League for the Marseillais, the two upcoming matches against the Portuguese should at least make it possible to avoid a final month of unpleasant competition, while the atmosphere already tense around the club could turn into frankly deleterious.

The task will not be easy. Since a difficult success against Nantes (2-0), OM have in fact suffered four consecutive defeats with 10 goals conceded and only two scored, one by Jonathan Clauss at the end of a very frightening match at Villarreal ( 3-1) and the other, unintentionally, by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Lille.

Above all, repeated injuries to senior players continue to poison the lives of OM and Gasset. “Of the 18 who were there this evening, six did not qualify for the C3. My only hope is Chancel Mbemba who will perhaps be able to play in Lisbon,” regretted the Marseille coach on Friday. “I told the players. We were terrible, but it is with this group that we will go to Lisbon,” he added.

“We must stop hiding behind the number of injured. We have a significant squad,” said midfielder Jordan Veretout, who promised a reaction. “Now we have to raise our level because it is too insufficient. If we play like that in the Europa League, we will get knocked out.”

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