LIGUE 1 – Sampaoli’s OM struggles at the Vélodrome, when it’s time to host Nice on Sunday (8:45 p.m.) for a crucial match

Eleventh. This is the rank that OM would occupy in Ligue 1 if only the points at home were taken into account. A place surely insufficient to dry up the “at arms” of the Vélodrome, but which would have something to annoy some subscribers for the season, and who see their team performing mainly far from their bases.

A few whistles have already descended from the Olympian bays, in particular during a mild February evening on the Côte d’Azur, which was well refreshed by a 2-0 defeat against Clermont. A dissatisfaction that Jorge Sampaoli understood at the time. « Whistles are normal. The public wants to see what they came for and we couldn’t give it to them. You have to accept it and try to improve« . The Argentinian technician had little other choice of reaction.

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A very average balance sheet

In front of their supporters and against struggling clubs. It is in this kind of meeting that the contenders for the most beautiful European places generally collect points to try to secure the top 5 in Ligue 1. Not Marseille.

Against the last five of the championship on the 28th day, the Olympians took only eight points in five matches. And when it’s time to host Nice on Sunday (8.45 p.m.), in one of those famous « six-point matches » against a direct competitor for second place, we’ll have to do better.

William Saliba

Credit: Getty Images

However, Sampaoli players score: 22 goals in 14 games. But it is mainly due to a few cards (4-1 against Saint-Etienne, 4-1 against Lorient, 5-2 against Angers). Recently, on the other hand, there has been a shortage. In the last two Ligue 1 matches at home, OM have not scored any goals against Monaco (0-1), and against Clermont (0-2).

The fans are annoyed, the players frustrated. After the defeat against Monaco on March 6, William Saliba summed up the situation quite simply: « It sucks to lose again at home« . And in addition to the many defeats at the Vélodrome, the manner was sometimes striking.

Counter-performances that leave traces

Because losing at home is hard, but not unacceptable. Especially since OM are catching up well away from home. But even draws are made bitter by a few stinging slaps, the still-hot mark on Olympians’ cheeks making poor results at home all the more painful. The most recent: this defeat against Clermont 2-0 last February. Mohamed Bayo had come to punish the dominant but ineffective Marseillais. « A lack of humility » complained Dimitri Payet. The most spectacular: the 3-2 defeat against Lens in September. The hardest points dropped to digest: the draws against Metz and Bordeaux. Against the Grenats, OM were 11 against 10 for a half hour, against the Girondins, he was leading 2-0.

« There is an obligation for this team to win at the Vélodromeanalyzed Sampaoli. We can lose our heads because of this obligation to win in front of our public, which deserves it. There is a weight. We want to respond to their supportA psychological problem? Or rather a tactical one?

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« A more grouped formation, close lines »

The South American technician tried to find more rational explanations. « In Baku, in Nantes, in Lens, in Strasbourg (four away wins), we have proposed a more grouped formation, close lines, which generate more help between the partners » he summarized. And the former Sevilla to continue: « If we don’t have these close lines, if there are 25 or 27 meters away, this team defends badly, it is vulnerable.« 

In other words, Sampaoli assumes that his team is better, or at least more efficient, when they are lower on the field. But the requirement of the Vélodrome following the investments of this year and the ambitions of the club pushes the Marseillais to take the game in hand at home, even if they put themselves in danger. A phrase that sums up Sampaoli’s philosophy well. In any case, the one he advocated before confronting the demands of the Vélodrome, where the spectacle without the results is not enough for long.

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