Champions League – The antisèche of Tottenham – OM: At eleven, the Marseille plan was (almost) perfect

Champions League – The antisèche of Tottenham – OM: At eleven, the Marseille plan was (almost) perfect

The game: Rigor, few opportunities

In an opposition of defenses with three centrals, it was OM who first gave the best impression, positioning their block very high and nipping the English transitions in the bud. The Phocaeans, more than level in the engagement, won a large majority of the duels in the first period, failing to be dangerous. The plan worked… until the 47th minute, and the exclusion of Chancel Mbemba.

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Igor Tudor then launched Leonardo Balerdi in place of Gerson, and Matteo Guendouzi went down a notch in midfield. OM started to defend in 5-3-1, naturally fell back and played the last twenty minutes without a single attacker on the pitch. Opposite, Tottenham delivered a generally poor performance offensively, failing in its transitions at 11 against 11 and slow to be dangerous in numerical superiority. But the Spurs, more incisive after the entry of Dejan Kulusevski, hit the mark on their only two chances in the second act: two headers from Richarlison (76th, 81st). Clinical.

15 defeats in 16 matches, “but this time, OM know where they are going”

Players: Fortunately, there was Richarlison

If Luis Suarez did not exist offensively, everyone has long done their defensive job perfectly on the OM side. Valentin Rongier and Matteo Guendouzi notably displayed a lot of activity. Then Chancel Mbemba saw red, before Eric Bailly then Samuel Gigot were each in turn too lax in the air. Everyone has their own mistake. Fortunately, the Spurs were able to count on the formidable efficiency of Richarlison, because Harry Kane and Heung-min Son had little influence on the debates… but brought the exclusion.

Richarlison scored twice against OM on Wednesday September 7, 2022. / Champions League

Credit: Getty Images

The X Factor: A red that changes everything

47th minute of play. The two teams have barely returned from the locker room when Harry Kane launches Heung-min Son in depth. Significantly behind Mbemba, the South Korean dominates him in the race and pushes him to the fault, when he could start on goal. An indisputable red card which obviously changed the face of the meeting. Because at eleven against eleven, OM did better than even play.

The stat: 2

Two goals for… two shots on target. Tottenham showed Champions League level realism on Wednesday. Apart from a counter in the first act, the Spurs had never worried Pau Lopez before these two helmet shots from the former Everton. With a little more rigor in marking, the Marseille club would have held a precious point.

The statement: Valentin Rongier (OM midfielder)

We are frustrated because we saw that at eleven against eleven we were on par, if not better. We couldn’t stay focused enough not to concede goals

The question: At eleven, could OM achieve the feat?

The expulsion of Chancel Mbemba will undoubtedly remain as the great turning point of this meeting. Marseille did not suffer that much in numerical inferiority, before this double from Richarlison in the last quarter of an hour. But at one less, the Phocaeans have logically become more vulnerable, finding it difficult to continue applying the same plan as in the first period, which was already risky at 11 against 11 against this opponent.

Risky… but paying off. Because in the first act, OM did more than compete. We did not expect to see Matteo Guendouzi and Gerson press so hard on Cristian Romero and Clément Lenglet, nor Valentin Rongier to follow Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to such an extent. At the risk of repeating ourselves, Kane and Son almost didn’t exist at home. It’s not nothing.

So this question remains: at eleven, could OM have kept up this pace throughout the game? Create the feat of winning in England? It is far from forbidden to believe it. Physically and in attitudes, the Olympians were on point. But there is however a big reserve: if Tottenham have long been silent offensively, the Olympians have been just as much. Apart from a long shot from Guendouzi (45th + 1) and a cross from Sead Kolasinac on which Amine Harit could have been more incisive (74th), Hugo Lloris did not have a heat stroke.

He missed that spark, that part of creativity or, better, of genius. What is able to bring Alexis Sanchez, suspended Wednesday. Or Dimitri Payet, who remained on the bench. Holding on until the last quarter of an hour, then launching an “artist” at the end of the match to try the feat, such was perhaps Tudor’s plan. We won’t know. The eleven lined up at home against Frankfurt next Tuesday will speak volumes about the Croatian’s intentions. But putting “only” Guendouzi and Gerson in support of Luis Suarez, this Wednesday and in Ligue 1, already gives part of the answer.

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