This OM team, having missed numerous chances to move up the table this season, now find themselves in a tough position. With little hope for a podium finish remaining, les Marseillais must find motivation from a different source: desperation. With many fans fed up with the lack of cohesion and efficiency in the team, the pressure on the team has risen to high levels. With Lorient even in points, this will be a tough match. This young Marseille team will have to show newfound maturity and grit in order to win. Will it happen? We shall see…
Photo courtesy of rtl.fr
Throughout this season, OM had motivation for every game. With the 2-5 places in the classement in contention, this Marseille team only needed a couple consecutive wins to push itself into the fight for a European spot. However, without a home win in months, an error-prone defense and wasteful offense, OM has seen their European window begin to shut. With 9 points separating 3rd-place Nice, and 9 games remaining, the closing bells are beginning to ring. Here is what must change for OM to finally right the ship:
Batshauyi and co. MUST PUT AWAY CHANCES (and pass)
By far, the most frustrating part of this season has been the wastefulness of the offense. Michy, Nkoudou, and Cabella have all shown flashes of brilliance and ability. However, despite this talent, they fail to string passes together and work together. Oftentimes, one will receive the ball, attempt to dribble two players, and then pass. They must begin to work more as a unit, let the ball do the work, and show they are a team; not a group of individuals.
Along with passing, this team must put away chances. In each game, OM has dominated possession and play for long spells. Within these spells, OM will accumulate several shots on goals, and forcing saves from the keeper. Too often, however, these spells have ended without goals. This unit must not be satisfied with good plays and chances: they must score. OM’s defense is not good enough to shut teams out, so OM must outscore, rather than outplay, the opposition.
Nkoulou and the defense must tighten things up
Despite having the greatest goalie in France, and talented players, OM’s defense must start to earn clean sheets. This season, despite Mandanda’s absolutely sensational play, OM has achieved just 6 clean sheets in Ligue 1. In many games, despite holding more of the ball, OM has given up preventable counter-attack goals, where one error or a moment of disorganization yields a goal. This is unacceptable. With OM’s scoring issues, clean sheets are required to even hope for victory. Given the talent of Nkoulou, Rekik, Mendy, and Manquillo (while Dja Djédjé is hurt), this unit can do much better.
Maintain dominance in midfield and possession without Diarra
Despite the shortcomings in the goals department, this OM team knows how to hold onto the ball. In most games this season, OM has had the advantage in terms of possession. This is crucial in reducing the opportunities for opposing teams, and allows OM to impose itself in games. With Diarra out, this task will prove more difficult. Romao and Isla will have to carry Diarra’s torch and continue to not only win possession but retain it. This OM team, without dominance in possession, could find itself yielding more goals than it already does. With possession, OM can dictate the game.
Mandanda (El Fenomeno)
Manquillo – Nkoulou – Rekik – Mendy
Isla – Romao
Allez l’OM !