For OM, draw without aliens leaving space / C1 / Draw /

The hands of Yaya Touré and Hamit Altintop were closely watched at Canebière. They offered a fairly open Champions League group for OM: if Tottenham seems to be a step above, the Phocaeans can hope to compete with Eintracht Frankfurt and Sporting to avoid ending up with the mantle. And therefore came out of the group stage other than the back door, to forget the last two painful participations.

Olympique de Marseille had exited the fairest of competitions with a 3-0 loss in Manchester City’s den. Not up to the task, the Phocaeans came out without honors and in the costume of the good last, behind Olympiakos. On September 6 or 7, they will find this Champions League, the one they owe this star proudly displayed, the one they fought hard for until the end of May last season. The draw proved mild, putting Frankfurt, Tottenham and Sporting away to Igor Tudor’s men. A adversity that especially faces the fact that OM is without a net, but which makes it possible for France’s vice-champion to dream of an extended European campaign. In C1 or in C3.

Pablo’s cat

Placed in hat 4, OM had few illusions. No mouse holes to slip through to avoid running into overarmed stables. A pygmy shrew hole at the border allowed a glimpse of a more homogenous group with the likes of Frankfurt, Sevilla and Shakhtar. A breach in which the Marseille club nevertheless managed to hurry. Under threat from Group A (with Ajax, Liverpool and Napoli) and C (with Bayern, Barcelona and Inter), OM landed in D, where quality opponents await them, but not as unplayable as one might fear. Tottenham are the favorites of the group, and Marseillais will find it difficult in advance to compete with Antonio Conte’s formation. Behind it, however, there must be a match.

Seeded thanks to their Europa League title, Eintracht lost Filip Kostić this summer and have a complicated start to the league with a fix inflicted by Bayern and two draws against Hertha and Cologne. That Lions by Rúben Amorim, finally: eighth finalist last season, Sporting have just received a slap from FC Porto and will now have to compose without João Palhinha or Matheus Nunes, who have departed to make the Premier League happy. “A group in the Europa League” , according to former Marseille’s Habib Beye on Canal+. On paper, OM has the weapons to do something. Fight for second place and join the fight for third place. Perhaps that’s what Pablo Longoria’s passive expression meant at the time of the verdict: This time, OM won’t be able to hide.

The obligation to redeem

OM left their last two Champions League campaigns with a dunce cap: no points scored in 2013-2014, just three in 2020-2021. This season, it won’t be easy to do better, but it seems to be a commitment. At the time of his departure, Jorge Sampaoli had doubts about the club’s ability to don a brighter costume than a sissy. “My pace and my goals are not the same as the leaders'” he said, a little over a month after already raising some questions: “Will we be able to build a squad for the Champions League and face teams that are out of this competition? […] OM’s last campaign in the Champions League was dismal. Watching OM play in a competition where they had no place was sad. »

Pablo Longoria was moved to tears on Canal+ on the evening of his team’s qualifier on May 21: “That’s the magic of Marseille. We all did it. The city deserves this, our fans deserve this. It’s for them!” A few days later, the president recalled the importance of the RMC “to have competitiveness in the Champions League […] and players up to the club’s requirements” . OM welcomed two men with considerable experience: Alexis Sánchez (66 C1 appearances) and Chancel Mbemba (26). Behind Arkadiusz Milik, who leaves for Juventus, only Dimitri Payet (23) appears in more than twenty matches, and most of the other players benefit from only minimal experience, if not non-existent, in the competition. In Ligue 1, it’s over. In the Champions League, there are fewer guarantees. But OM still has ten days to get up to speed and prevent sky and white supporters from hearing a new speech in the fall of Villas-Boas, which had fallen two years ago: “To be weak and do some crap in the Champions League, you have to be there already. We are here and we do shit. » The draw was generous enough that no snub could be tolerated.

By Quentin Ballue

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