between Lyon and Marseille, an “olympico” to avoid the crisis

Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, September 26, against Metz.

In recent years, no Ligue 1 football club has more than the two “Olympics” drawn from meteorological jargon, with storms and turmoil tirelessly succeeding lulls, or even a few improvements. But rarely have the clouds massed so dense and synchronous over Lyon and Marseille that on the eve of their duel, Sunday October 4, counting for the 6e day of the French championship.

The post-confinement summer of the two clubs had, however, given rise to a lot of hopes for the new season. Deprived of European qualification for the first time in twenty-three years after the freezing of the standings for the 2019-2020 season of Ligue 1 by the Covid-19, OL cured his hangover in a Lisbon epic unexpected by the more devoted to its supporters: defeat against Bayern Munich, future winner, in the semi-finals of the Champions League after eliminating Juventus Turin and Manchester City.

All thanks to a new game plan favoring the solidarity, courage and cohesion of a group combining high-value internationals and the latest nuggets of the training center.

Read also: Hard return to reality for Lyon, eliminated by Bayern in the semi-final of the Champions League

In Marseille, past the umpteenth mirage of a new owner on the bottomless stock exchange and the stillborn promises of Mourad Boudjellal, the former boss of the Toulon rugby club, the recovery took place in an almost suspicious stability as it is rare on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Same owner, therefore: the American Frank McCourt. Same trainer: André Villas-Boas, appreciated by his group like the stands, but given a starting point after the departure in the spring of his friend of sports director, Andoni Zubizarreta. Same team – reinforced by a handful of arrivals – as that pointed at second place in a ranking cut by the epidemic.

Closer to relegation than to the Rennes leader

And then the 2020-2021 season has started … Between Lyon and Marseille, it is already the one who will temporarily put an end to the doubts that abound after only five days. Before their clash in Décines (Rhône), OL and OM respectively point to 11e and 9e places in Ligue 1, mathematically closer to the relegation leader in Strasbourg than to the Rennes leader. A place in the soft belly unworthy of a representative this year in the Champions League and of a club that aims to become it again.

In Marseille as in Lyon, even the good news of September is not enough to reassure for the rest of the championship. The Phocéens put an end, from the 3e day, at nine years without victory against the Parisian enemy.

But of the success at the Parc des Princes all that remains are the indigent images of beatings, provocations and spitting, and accusations of racism made by both sides and ultimately not sanctioned. Above all, the exploit against Paris was annihilated in accounting terms by the starving balance sheet achieved at the Vélodrome, where the locals took only two points in three receptions.

Among Lyon fans, the spotlight of the “Final 8” and the need for cash while waiting for a return to Europe had raised fears of the departure of the three main “values”: Houssem Aouar, Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembélé.

But with a transfer window calmed by the epidemic and the refusal by Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of the club, to sell off his players, the three headliners have still not left the Rhône, while the transfer market closes October 5.

“There will be no more [des départs] from Friday evening [2 octobre], warned Mr. Aulas. All matters must be settled before this deadline. “ A “Deadline” who certainly wouldn’t withstand a last minute assault

“If one wins, the other will remain in crisis”

In the absence of a start, the last week in Lyon was punctuated by arrivals. Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta, 23 years old and 11 capes with the “Seleção”, was snatched for 20 million euros from AC Milan, where he never managed to win. A signing for the next five years, ahead of the expected one from 18-year-old Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri – if he doesn’t ultimately go to Manchester United.

During the presentation of Lucas Paqueta to the press on Wednesday, Mr. Aulas made this reinforcement a proof of the ambitions of his club: “It’s a very good operation which shows OL’s ability to carry out very important transactions. We have the means to do them in a medium-term plan aimed at being at the highest level in France and in Europe. “

Despite a failed start to the season, the boss of the “Gones” is convinced: “We will recover. I know we will be up there at the end of the championship. “

In the Bouches-du-Rhône, too, we hope that salvation will pass through South America. OM welcomed a new striker, Luis Enrique, at the start of the week. This 18-year-old Brazilian could make his debut at the “olympico”.

For OL as for OM, it will be less about winning than not losing. At the risk of seeing the head of the championship escape and the clouds turn stormy.

Enjoying the presentation of his “Nugget” Luis Enrique, Marseille coach André Villas-Boas set the scene: “OM and OL are two teams in a bad time given the latest results. If one wins, the other will remain in crisis. So it looks tough, we’ll have to win it. “


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