OM will face Villarreal and their former coach, Marcelino, in the round of 16 of the Europa League

Some will say it was written

OM will face Villarreal and their former coach, Marcelino, in the round of 16 of the Europa League

Some will say it was written. The last French representative in the Europa League, Olympique de Marseille (OM) will find its coach from the start of the season, Marcelino, now coach of Villarreal, in the round of 16. The first leg will take place at the Stade-Vélodrome on March 7, the return will take place a week later, on March 14, at the Stade de la Ceramica, in the province of Castellon (eastern Spain). OM were rather varnished in the draw, carried out on Thursday February 23 in Nyon (Switzerland), notably avoiding Liverpool, West Ham or Bayer Leverkusen.

The 58-year-old Spanish technician’s Marseille adventure ended very badly. Marseille had argued in a press release on September 20 that he and his staff could no longer “exercise in good conditions the function for which they were hired”. This followed the “events of September 18”, namely a stormy meeting between the management of OM and its supporters, who demanded the immediate departure of Marcelino, after seven matches.

Having only stayed three months in Bouches-du-Rhône, the Spaniard quickly bounced back by signing with Villarreal on November 13. But apart from the first place obtained in the Europa League group stage, his team is struggling to string together good performances. The “yellow submarine” is thirteenth in the Spanish championship, fourteen points behind the European places.

The Marseillais will mainly have to be wary of attackers Gerard Moreno and Goncalo Guedes, former Paris Saint-Germain scorer, who are Villarreal's main assets.

“A very nice poster”

The day before, OM qualified by beating Shakhtar Donetsk (3-1) thanks to the achievements of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ismaila Sarr and Geoffrey Kondogbia. The club's fourth coach this season - counting the interim of Jacques Abardonado, before the arrival of Gennaro Gattuso - Jean-Louis Gasset made his debut by offering a convincing performance at the Stade-Vélodrome. His players will have to play – at least – with the same desire to eliminate Villarreal and reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League. They are only in 9th place in the Ligue 1 rankings.

“It’s a very beautiful poster,” reacted Jean-Pierre Papin, advisor to President Longoria in Marseille, at the Canal microphone on Friday. “Villarreal is a team with great European experience, winning the competition in 2021 against Manchester United. And I remember that Marcelino left Marseille without having lost a match, in a difficult context. »

The draw for the round of 16 was kind to the favorite teams in the Europa League. Liverpool will face Sparta Prague. Leverkusen, undefeated and at the top of the Bundesliga, will face Azerbaijanis FK Qarabag. AS Roma will meet up with Brighton, Benfica, Glasgow Rangers and AC Milan, who defeated Rennes in the play-off, Slavia Prague. Fribourg-West Ham and Sporting Portugal-Atalanta Bergamo complete the program.

In the Europa Conference League, the lower level, Lille will face the Austrians from Sturm Graz to try to qualify for the first European quarter-final in its history. The Northerners, 4th in Ligue 1, avoided Ajax Amsterdam or Olympiakos Piraeus, two of the favorites of the competition. LOSC will travel to Graz on March 7 for the first leg, before hosting the 2nd in the Austrian championship on the 14th.