Ligue 1: held in check by Metz, Marseille is no longer advancing

Whistles and frustration

Ligue 1: held in check by Metz, Marseille is no longer advancing

Whistles and frustration. The players of Olympique de Marseille (OM) left the pitch at the Stade Vélodrome with their heads down, Friday February 9, after being held in check by Metz who are struggling to maintain their position (1-1), at the opening of the 21st day of Ligue 1.

This new poor performance will not lighten the atmosphere around Gennaro Gattuso's team which will have difficulty filling the positive points column. Certainly, while they played ten against eleven for an hour, the Marseillais were less bad than in recent weeks and they scored a nice goal which bears the mark of two winter recruits, the passer Quentin Merlin and the scorer Faris Moumbagna. But that cannot be enough as Metz (16th) remained on a series of seven defeats in a row in L1 and therefore came to the Vélodrome to take a point expected for weeks.

OM, seventh in the standings and therefore far from qualifying for the Champions League, is no longer winning and is no longer advancing. It remains in the league with four draws and one defeat, and its only victory in 2024 came in the Cup against Thionville, an N3 club.

“We can talk about a mini-crisis. We haven't won in five matches and it may seem utopian to talk about this fourth place. But if I don’t believe in this goal, I’m going home,” declared OM coach Gennaro Gattuso after the match.

“Now shut up and do something! », ask the supporters

Through large-scale meetings, OM spoke a lot this week, hoping to find in these group therapy sessions something to build the mentality that this squad lacks, according to the diagnosis of Gattuso and president Pablo Longoria. But the translation of words into action was not very convincing and everything ended with boos from the Vélodrome, with the leaders of the supporters groups turning up the volume of the megaphones to express all their anger after the whistle. final.

The weekend could be tense in Marseille, before a trip to Hamburg in the middle of the week to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League.

The atmosphere was already tense before kick-off and unsurprisingly, the banners were out in the stands, where the supporters wanted to follow up on the messages already sent on Tuesday when they came to the Commanderie to meet the players. In the South Bend, the most imposing summed up the general opinion well: “Nice words since July for a fiasco from February, now shut up and act! »

The Marseillais tried, laboriously, and against weak Messins, they logically obtained more opportunities than in recent weeks. But a few gestures betray the lack of confidence, even quality, and until the break, Gattuso's players shot everywhere, beside, above or even at goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, like Azzedine Ounahi on an easy header ( 42nd), but never in the net. Above all, they made life particularly complicated for themselves, with the expulsion in the 30th minute of their captain Samuel Gigot, guilty of having very clumsily defended on Georges Mikautadze, who could go on goal.

CAN absences are not enough of an excuse

After the break, the Marseillais still went on the attack again, successfully this time. In the 56th minute, Moumbagna took a very good cross from Merlin (1-0) to give himself the debut at the Vélodrome that many attackers before him dreamed of, starting with poor Vitinha, exfiltrated via a loan to Genoa before transfers close. But the advantage did not hold for five minutes, Marseille quickly cracking on a poorly defended action and concluded with a header by Matthieu Udol (1-1, 61st).

“I recognize the superiority of the Marseillais but it is not a surprise to be dominated by OM in Marseille,” explained FC Metz coach Laszlo Bölöni. We had to sort out some things during the break. We came back with a better state of mind and we were rewarded with the equalizer. »

The rest was confusing and futile for OM who did not score. “We finished with 72% possession having played with ten men, that has never happened to me in my career,” admitted Gattuso. Afterwards, you have to score. We did what we had to do but if you don't push it, football gets tough. »

The Marseillais no longer know how to win and they can no longer hide behind absences from the African Cup of Nations. There remains the European Cup on Thursday to possibly give them a little breath of fresh air.