OM faces a huge game against Basque giants Atletic Bilbao, in the knockout round of Europa Ligue. This is, whatever the result, going to be a great matchup. Bilbao bring a high-tempo, attacking style, to collide with OM’s more countering approach. Michel will face a couple big personnel choices, with Dja Djédjé and Cabella out. Continue reading for preview, personnel decisions, and probable lineup.
Bilbao supporters arriving in Marseille with Bielsa material. The two fan bases share the same nostalgia for the Argentine. Photo courtesy of lequipe.fr
This will be a tough game for OM. Bilbao play a very effective attacking style, and currently sitting 7th in La Liga. Their goal difference of +1, having scored 35 goals, shows that they know how to score but can also be countered. OM, recently, have played better in all sectors, though have struggled to score. This OM team tends to play better when the underdog, so OM fans should be confident that this team will show up to play. However, with only 20,000 tickets sold, the fans will not be out in force, which is a shame. Here is the key question that must be answered before this game.
Who to play at number 10?
With Cabella out for this game, Michel faces an interesting question for the central attacking midfield position. With the additions of Fletcher and Thauvin, the spot is no longer reserved for Barrada. Michel could play Fletcher behind Michy, as a false 9. Thauvin could lineup in the 10 spot, though he is naturally a winger. Fletcher offers his passing instinct and physical style in the midfield, while Thauvin offers impressive technique and quickness.
For me, however, I would play Barrada at this spot. I know he has struggled often, and can seem too slow. However, if there is one thing that is missing from OM’s attack all season, its passing. Nkoudou, Cabella, Alessandrini, and Sarr all choose to dribble first whenever they have the ball. Cabella has only one assist this entire season, despite playing behind three attacking players. Michy’s struggles are largely linked to his lack of service, which Barrada can provide. Remember, despite Barrada’s lack of play, he still leads the team in assists. That is why I think, against a quick Atletico team, OM must use passing to pick them apart.
With Dja Djédjé out for three weeks, Michel really only has one option to replace him. Due to Mendy still recovering, Isla will have to be moved to right back. With De Ceglie failing to play well in any of his starts, Michel cannot risk playing him on the left and moving Manquillo. Romao has played well, and can fill in for Isla’s spot in front of the defense.
Isla – Nkoulou – Rolando – Manquillo
Romao – Diarra
Alessandrini – Barrada – Nkoudou
Merci, et allez l’OM ! Quick note – unfortunately, due to the time of the game, I will not be able to watch most of the game. So I may not have a review. Enjoy, everyone!