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OM-PSG: Marseille, between hope, weariness and… fear of heights

Never two without three.

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OM-PSG: Marseille, between hope, weariness and… fear of heights

Never two without three. After guiding OM to five victories in a row, Jean-Louis Gasset was unable to work miracles in the last three matches, three defeats, at Villarreal (3-1) – where the disaster of an elimination was narrowly avoided – and Rennes (2-0) before the international break, and therefore against PSG (0-2), Sunday. The state of grace is over. A Classic before which many observers imagined a big Parisian victory. Dynamics, infirmary, intrinsic level of the players... There should not have been a photo. Finally, the Marseillais had the merit of playing eye to eye with Paris for a good part of the match, giving in on two counterattacks. “A lot of frustration”, breathed Jean-Louis Gasset on Sunday evening, with Ulisses Garcia noting that OM “had a good match overall”. Not enough to put Paris to bed, at 10 for more than 50 minutes.

So much so that we can wonder what Marseille needs to finally overcome its best enemy. 13 years since the Marseille club last beat that of the capital at the Vélodrome in Ligue 1, since 2011, under Didier Deschamps. Only two victories in the last 30 confrontations, in 2020 at the Parc des Princes and last year, in the Coupe de France. It doesn't sound heavy... "Another damp squib": this title from La Provence clearly denotes the weariness of Marseille. The never-ending story. “We’re not going to lie to each other, it hurts, it’s painful. We were undefeated at the Vélodrome,” complains Geoffrey Kondogbia.

What made the difference on Sunday night? “We know the qualities of Paris. We had a lot of opportunities, we didn't make them happen, notes Garcia. It's very frustrating to concede these two goals against. They were lucid in the last 30 meters. Quite the opposite for Marseillais, even if it should be emphasized that “the goalkeeper (Donnarumma) did his job too. We spent a lot of energy, which meant that we lacked collective efficiency,” confirms Kondogbia, with Amine Harit hailing an “incredible goalkeeper” to mention Gigio Donnarumma. “We had to stay much more concentrated,” summarizes Gasset, believing that the referee, Benoît Bastien, should have awarded the disallowed goal to Jordan Veretout in the second half. “I long to see the images again,” he said at a press conference. The former assistant coach of Luis Fernandez and Laurent Blanc in Paris would undoubtedly be disappointed, the proximity between Donnarumma and Marseille striker Luis Henrique, effectively offside, leaving little room for discussion...

Good news ? Pushed by a boiling Vélodrome, the Marseillais have nothing to be ashamed of their performance, even less of their attitude. A little lack of ambition, madness perhaps. Above all, quality. And efficiency, as we have said. “I saw players dejected, tired, because they gave everything. The public was not mistaken and they encouraged us throughout the match, they saw that we tried,” greets Gasset. The people of Marseille will perhaps not always be so patient. OM are currently seventh in the Ligue 1 standings, and therefore outside the European places. It's already been a trying season in many ways, on and off the field, and the opening five wins under Gasset don't erase it all. The workforce is what it is, limited. Pau Lopez and company are still aiming for the C1. Hurry up.

Also readOM: “If we have this state of mind, we will have a good end to the season,” promises Gasset

The most optimistic can still dream of a coronation in the Europa League. We would have to dismiss Benfica in the quarters and the winner of Liverpool-Atalanta before reaching the final. The most realistic will note that OM players still have to face three teams who are ahead in the standings in L1, Nice (29th day) and Lens (31st day) at the end of April and Lille, at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, next Friday (9 p.m. ) at the opening of the 28th day of Ligue 1.

It remains to be seen whether there are reasons to hope for a bright future and an end to the season that would meet Marseille's expectations. It won't be easy: between the poor form of some and the limitations of others, OM must deal with "bad luck" - says Jean-Louis Gasset - which turns into a curse. “Before the match, I didn't want to hide behind the injuries, but the international break was terrible for us,” complains the Marseille coach, disillusioned. Jonathan Clauss injured after 10 minutes with the France team. Ismaila Sarr who is having fun with Senegal. We had four players who were in the recovery phase. We spent this week "filling" them little by little, we did a test this morning (Sunday) to see if they could start. (Samuel) Gigot had an infiltration in the shoulder to give himself a better chance of finishing the match. (Leonardo) Balerdi, same. All defenders. Clauss, Gigot, Balerdi... If the exams are bad for Mbemba, it will still be a Chinese puzzle for the upcoming deadlines..."

The kind of Chinese puzzle that Gasset faced before OM-PSG to compose his defense. “To tell you the truth, I didn't know if Ulisses Garcia could play again yesterday (Saturday) at 10 p.m.... Same for Balerdi. We did a liveliness test this morning at 11 a.m. (Sunday) so that both players would say “OK, I can start”. We have a problem at right-back. Clauss is injured, (Amir) Murillo is recovering. We still had to invent something,” said the Marseille coach after the Classic. All this knowing that Garcia is not qualified for the Europa League. One more worry. “I continue to scratch my head... We will find a tactical solution or by moving a player to the side. But we will first wait for the diagnosis for Mbemba.” A priori, the news is reassuring for the latter. That would change...

In any case, the Phocaeans have “no excuse”, as Lopez said before OM-PSG. It’s time to “look forward,” as Kondogbia puts it. “We did good things (Sunday) and we must use them for the upcoming matches, they are super important,” he adds. “If we play the match we did, by improving in the last 30 matches, we will win a lot of matches,” explains Garcia, calling for “seeing things positively”. Gasset prefers to dream reality. “We have magnificent matches to play. We will go to Lille on Friday, the team in good shape at the moment. Then, we play the quarterfinals of the Europa League. These are good matches to play, like tonight.” And to conclude: “Let’s keep this state of mind and get some players back.” Coué method? One thing is certain: OM already no longer has the right to make mistakes in the French championship. The fear of heights is there.

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