Following the mass exodus of several key players during the summer, and then the shock resignation of manager Marcelo Bielsa, it’s fair to say that Marseille are a team in transition. But after their difficult start to the season, victory against fellow strugglers Lille last weekend may start a positive spell for the club.
The Biesla-era was one of much promise and excitement, with Marseille playing some of the best football in France last season. After a seven game winning streak at the start of the 2014/15 campaign, OM were top of the table on New Year’s Day. But costly defeats to league rivals PSG and AS Monaco – and a winless spell in April – meant they gradually slipped down the table, and ended up finishing fourth, missing out on Champions League qualification.
Pre-season saw key players André-Pierre Gignac, André Ayew, and Dimitri Payet leave the club. Marseille went into the new season weakened, but they still looked strong, having made nine new signings. Biesla claimed to be content with his squad and ready for the new season, but the Argentinian shocked Ligue 1 by resigning minutes after the final whistle to their season opener; a 1-0 defeat to Caen.
Former Real Madrid player Michel took over at the Velodrome after Jurgen Klopp was approached, but rejected the chance to join the French club, claiming the timing wasn’t right. He’s since joined Liverpool, replacing Brendan Rodgers.
Results have been mixed for Marseile so far this term, and the club has, at times, looked devoid of confidence. But there have been some positives; Michy Batshuayi, signed from Standard Liege last season, is the leading goal-scorer in Ligue 1, whilst the acquisition of Remy Cabella, who’s joined the club on a season-long loan from Newcastle as part of the Florian Thauvin deal, is considered by many fans a step-up from Thauvin.
New signings Abou Diaby and Lassana Diarra both came to the club on the back of limited playing time in the last twelve months, and whilst Diaby is still struggling with the fitness issues that plagued his career at Arsenal, Lassana Diarra has been a revelation in central midfield. A string of good performances in an otherwise struggling team earned him a recall to the French national team recently, just in time to seriously stake his claim for a place in the squad for the Euro 2016 tournament in France.
Marseille’s next fixture is away to Nantes on Sunday night, who have played well so far this season and have won their previous three fixtures. Manager Michel will be keen to build upon their good performance in the victory against Lille, where they were particularly strong going forward, attacking with speed and venom, but often looking fragile at the back.
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