Frustrations/Lessons from Le Classique

Last Sunday, OM put in one of their best performances against PSG, and still lost. Time and time again, this season, OM played extremely well against a tough opponent, but then struggled to get points against weaker opposition later. I am going to explore what we learned from this valiant effort, and what it means for the rest of the season.

NkoudouPSG

Photo courtesy of om.net

Gosh, what a frustrating game. After falling asleep for the first 15 minutes, OM played a wonderful game. However, it became clear that PSG was the more mature team in the second half. For almost 20 minutes in the second half, OM was controlling the ball, pressing the PSG defense, and getting chances, without scoring. PSG soaked up all of the pressure, allowing OM to attack and attack. Then, Paris scores a counter-attack goal against the run of play. This knockout punch, against the run of play, was the difference between the two teams. OM, having a lot of youth in attack, must learn to put away chances. We do not care that they had 19 opportunities: what is important is goals.

The worst part is the sense of satisfaction from members of the team and press after the game. Phrases like “OM played honorably”, and “despite the loss, we played well”, should not be accepted for a team like OM. This is Le Classique ! This is the biggest game in France, a battle for pride and glory. Who cares how big PSG’s budget is? Any team can be beaten. Settling for, “at least we played well”, shows how far the ambitions for the club have fallen. With the downsizing of the team by MLD and Labrune, has come smaller dreams too. This attitude is ruining OM, but also the competitiveness of Ligue 1.

Michel saying he was satisfied by the performance. Video courtesy of Sport News.

What really drives me mad about these responses, is that they have happened before. Against Paris in November, and Lyon both games, OM have played at an extremely high level. After each game, we heard of the same satisfaction. However, this team has then failed to win at home in 5 months, and played extremely poorly against teams like Lille, Toulouse, and Reims. OM remains in 10th place, and time is running out. This team plays to the level of its adversary. The only way to change this is to demand victory and nothing else.

THOUGHTS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON

Michy Batshauyi

Michy was absolutely invisible against PSG, and seems to be fading as the season progresses. A young striker, he has immense quality, but struggles to make convincing runs to get service. We all know that Cabella is not Payet, but Michy must do more to get the ball to his feet. Often, Michy will receive the ball, pass it, and jog to the last defender. Hopefully, the return of Alessandrini and Thauvin can improve this. We all know what Michy can do, so it should be only a matter of time before he returns to dominance.

The Thauvin – Alessandrini Question

Many people have been ironically cheering the return of Thauvin, somehow forgetting the vicious criticism most fans poured on him last year. I, for one, am happy he is back, but wonder about how he will fit into this team. Nkoudou has solidified his stake at the left wing position, and Cabella has been heating up of late, which leaves the right flank. Thauvin should fit in nicely on the right side, opening up the defense with his dribbling and awesome left foot. However, this leaves Alessandrini, Sarr, and Ocampos behind him. It seems that OM now has four right wingers. Alessandrini has been up and down all season, as well as injury-prone, but still remains a solid winger. Sarr has also had some moments this season. With Michel saying that he did not ask for Thauvin back, one wonders where he, and the other wingers, will fit.

Carrying the PSG Performance Into the Rest of the Season

As I alluded to in my rant earlier, this team continues to choose its games. With a Champions League spot 5 points away, and 13 games left in the season, this OM team must adopt a win-at-all-costs mentality. No more of this, play well against big teams mentality: approach every game the same way. Every game is now a final. OM is 5 points from Champions League and 8 points from relegation. This OM team is as close to the CL as it is to playing Ligue 2 next season. It is time to wake up and be consistent. The defense is playing better, Diarra is back, and Cabella is rising up. This team, after months of instability, can now make a run at a European spot. Allez les gars, faites-nous rêver !!!

Thanks, and Allez l’OM !

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