While the Classique was a one-sided and dull affair, the post-game reactions were worth following. Naturally, PSG fans and media personalities were very critical of Garcia’s ultra-defensive approach. The lack of offensive movement from OM was deemed anti-jeu, or against the spirit of football (soccer). Even amongst the OM ranks, fans were split over being content with the result, and feeling dismayed by the lack of play generated by l’OM. While I understand most of the concern given the lack of an offensive threat from les Marseillais, I drew a lot of positives from this game…
Garcia – om.net
Garcia Did the Job
Taking over two days before the Classique, Garcia had a tough job at hand. He had to come into a group of young players in the middle of a tough season, and rally them against the biggest team in France. He had to risk trying a new system without much practice time, hoping that his players can gel with new instructions against a top European club. Opting for a 5-defender system, Garcia put Rolando in the center back spot along with Doria and Fanni. Rolando, despite playing only a few minutes this season, was the best player on the field. Him, along with Doria, Fanni, and Pelé formed a brick wall that withstood countless Parisien attacks. This gamble by Garcia worked, and will aid him as he enacts influence on the team.
Source – om.net
Rolando Earned a Starting Spot in One Game
As I mentioned before, Rolando was incredible against Paris. He had over a dozen tackles, and was the keystone upon which the defensive scheme was built. This season, it appeared that the two best center backs would be Doria and Fanni. However, Rolando stepped into the biggest game of the season and rose to the challenge. As Garcia moves forward, I believe he will switch towards his typical 4-3-3, where Rolando could see an opportunity to partner with Doria. With those two together, teams will find it difficult to win any headers in the box.
Cool video that displays a couple great tackles from the defensive unit –
A Team Spirit has Formed
Despite the lack of offensive play by OM, I was impressed by their defensive work and passion. As René Malleville mentioned in his analysis of the game, OM showed a fighting spirit against Paris, one that has been lacking for the past couple years. We saw Gomis clearing the ball out of the box, with OM players throwing themselves in front of the ball, doing whatever it takes to prevent a goal. You saw the players covering for each other, against the endless Parisien onslaught. This is what has been missing since Bielsa left. What OM fans desire as much as wins, is a team that fights for each other and the jersey. This OM team, with several young, unproven players, is showing the qualities of a good team.
OM is seven points off of third place, has a new coach, and a team that is getting better and better. The next Ligue 1 game is home against Bordeaux, and I believe fans will come back to the stadium. A big win against Bordeaux could spark a good run of form, putting OM on track for a Champions League push. While this can seem like wishful thinking, I truly feel that this team can do great things, with the support of the fans at their backs. Let us hope I am right!