Ligue Europa, Phase de Groupes: OM vs. AEL LimassolBy: Richard | October 5th, 2012
With Valencienne still fresh in the minds of OM fans, many wondered just how the team would respond to their upcoming Europa league match. Let alone the ever increasing media buzz due to Le Classico. Should Marseille fail at the Velodrome just days before its biggest match well cue all the pundits predicting doom and gloom. Coming into the match I’d be lying if I told you I knew anything about AEL besides the fact they come from Cyprus. APOEL they are not but their league is certainly on the up and up making a name for itself throughout Europe. To welcome our Cypriot guests Baup went ultra experimental marking the debut of two new starlets in Lucas Mendes and Baptiste Aloé. Initially looking at the lineup of present I had my doubts, as Baup playing for a draw? Putting the competition aside with the real prize being Paris? No he gambled and boy did it pay off!
Looking at AEL they looked and acted as if they had been there before. Unafraid of the atmosphere of the Veldorome, check that it was pretty empty was it not? Regardless they came to play and set the precedent for one of the most physical games I have seen Marseille take part in a quite a lone time. This was more EPL then Ligue 1 and we even had an Englishmen on the field to boot. You know I cringed when Joey excuse me “Joe” Barton was first linked with us. While his band has kept him from aiding in the league (at least for now) I thought he was excellent! He played from box to box and his passing was superb. Who knows perhaps he could have also had a goal as he lined up for a great shit only for it to be deflected at the last second. So in short yes more Barton, if he can do this for us on a regular basis sign the man its been far too long since we had a guy like Cana in our midfield.
What bothered me from the outset was our defense, the clearances, challenges all spelled doom. But this is expected when you are tying to introduce new guys into the mix and truthfully I’d rather have it done in the Europa league then tinkering within the league. Therefore it really was not surprising when AEL drew first blood. We allowed them to press the hell out of us and they got their reward. Luckily it didn’t take long for OM to respond with a superb header from Rod Fanni insuring we went in level at the half.
The second half was all OM, we finally started playing like the home team and we put AEL in a corner for the remainder of the match. In the 60th minute our lead came as Valbuena delivered a beautiful corner that connected with Lucas Mendes. You certainly could not ask for a better debut especially in front of the home fans. It was Remy that would steal the show as ten minutes later he made it 3-1 with a double header of sorts. He then went on to set up Gignac with a cracking lob pass to make it 4-1 and got his brace in stoppage time for the fifth goal.
So a few things to take away from this, Remy is back, Barton maybe/can work, Mendes looks promising, Aloe cant tell yet, and this game was brutal as hell. I’m in love with the final score but even more grateful that none of our guys picked up any injuries that would sideline them for Le Classico. This is exactly the sort of game we needed to turn things around and prepare for Sunday.