The Olympico clash of Ligue 1's 10th matchday takes place this Wednesday, December 6. This follows the postponement of the first fixture, on October 29, due to incidents. In addition to the tense context in which the match is taking place, with heightened security, one of the most eagerly-awaited matches in Ligue 1 every year is being played in a particular context, which has been rather rare in recent years. Marseille's form is average, and Lyon are bottom of the Ligue 1 table. These two teams, who have always had key African players in their squads, are going into this match with irregular performances on the Marseille side, and worse on the Lyon side, with the continentals in a total slump.
Marseille's Africans expected to shine at Olympico
Marseille go into the Olympico in 9th place in Ligue 1 with 17 points, 16 behind leaders Paris (33 pts, Matchday 14). Lyon on their part, are in the throes of a crisis and are playing for survival. The team is last in the league standings with just 7 points on the board after 13 matchdays. They are 5 points behind first-placed Strasbourg (13 pts). Marseille have already fired one of their coaches, Marcelino, while Lyon have already let go two since the start of the season, Fabio Grosso most recently and Laurent Blanc who started the season. As a result, tonight's Olympico will be one of the lowest-scoring matches of the season.
Marseille's inconsistent performances ahead of the Olympico
Despised strikers yet to adapt: Aubameyang far from past standards. Marseille had thrilled their fans with their promising mercato.The attacking line announced on paper had aroused everyone's enthusiasm. In the end, it was the team's biggest disappointment.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a world-class player, has yet to live up to expectations.In 13 Ligue 1 games, the man expected to spearhead the attack has scored 2 goals, including one from the penalty spot. This is insufficient to meet Marseille's European objectives. He came to life in the Marseille-Ajax match in the Europa League, scoring 3 goals to take his total in European competition to 4. He therefore has a reprieve from Marseille's demanding public. A further goal at the Olympico could silence for a while those who are unconvinced by his level.
Ismaël Sarr: Inefficiency incarnate and intermittent performance
Senegalese winger Ismaël Sarr was expected to be the catalyst on Marseille's flanks. He certainly showed glimpses of his qualities on occasion. But his irregularity exasperates Marseille fans and his inefficiency poses a problem. The player is not clinical in front of goal.In the league, the Senegalese scored 3 goals and provided 1 assist. A meagre record given the expectations placed in him on his arrival. His problem is repeating the same kind of matches. He can be omnipresent one match and totally absent the next.It's his job and his coach's job. This characteristic has been with him since the start of his career. An improvement was expected at Marseille, but has yet to materialize. It's not enough to make an impact on defences, if at the end of a match there's neither a goal nor an assist to show for it... Which is often how the Senegalese describes himself.
Iliman Ndiaye: The player has yet to adapt to the team
His reception by Marseille fans reflected the expectations placed in him. The player had turned down a number of Premier League clubs to join his beloved OM after a brilliant season in the Championship, a successful CAF Africa Cup of Nations and a promising start to the World Cup.Unfortunately, the Senegalese dribbler has been slow to express his talent with Marseille. Could it be the pressure of the Marseille environment inhibiting him? Perhaps. Unfortunately, the player is not in a normal environment, and in Marseille there is no time to adapt.
Criticism has also been levelled at the player's inefficiency, with only his dribbling skills currently on show on the pitch. He currently has 13 games played for 1 goal and 2 assists distilled. Too little for the sum invested in him (17 million euros) and the fuss that accompanied his arrival. Unfortunately, he won't be taking part in the game this Wednesday, as he has been suspended following his red card against Rennes.
African midfielders and defenders: Reasons for satisfaction
Geoffrey Kondogbia, Amin Harit and Chancel Mbemba, with the exception of a few setbacks and injuries, are generally performing satisfactorily. In Marseille matches, Amin Harit is often the one who sets the pace and triggers the action. There's no debate about his level; he's spared criticism and even praised for his level, after the terrible injury from which he has just returned. The player has made 12 appearances and 2 assists.
His fellow midfielder, the Central African Kondogbia, has also been the talk of the town since his return from injury to coincide with Marseille's upturn in fortunes. He's very active in midfield. He gets a lot of the ball. There's no disputing his commitment. He's been one of Marseille's best performers in recent games. He seemed to be injury-free and to have got his season off to a good start, but concordant reports suggest that he is doubtful for yet another injury. The Central African has played 9 games this season.
Chancel Mbemba, the Congolese warrior, may have missed a few games, but overall he's fulfilling his role to perfection. Just as he has done since his arrival, he is giving satisfaction. He's one of Marseille's most consistent performers. If he's on a good day for this Olympico, he can be a major player in the match, both defensively and offensively, with his header from set-pieces, which is an asset for Marseille. He has already scored once this season.
Azzedine Ounahi still leaves fans wanting more
He's the Marseille player with the most talent and potential. But the player still hasn't digested the transition from small club (Angers) to big club (Marseille). He also shows a certain nonchalance, a lack of impact in the defensive phase. He's always shown good attacking skills and creativity, but his commitment has always posed a problem for successive Marseille coaches. Most of the time, they've put him on the bench: Marcelino, Gattuso, Tudor. Ounahi scored in the victory over Rennes. Perhaps he'll be able to continue in the same vein for once? The 23-year-old Moroccan played in 7 of OM's 14 matches. He scored 2 goals.
After serving the 4-month suspension handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Senegal's Pape Gueye returns to the Marseille squad.
Lyon's Africans Diomandé, Nuamah, Akouakou, Baldé out of form
Like their team, which is languishing at the bottom of the standings, OL's African players are almost all in a bad way ahead of the Olympico.
Sinaly Diomandé, the Ivorian central defender, has played 11 games this season, and with the points on the OL scoreboard, it's hard to say he's having a good season. But in his defense, it's the whole team that's suffering. His compatriot Paul Akouokou, recruited from Bétis, has yet to convince his coaches to give him a place in the squad. He has played 5 games.
Ghanaian hopeful Ernest Nuamah (20), recruited at a high price by Molenbeek (25 million euros) and loaned out to Lyon, a club owned by the same president, has fallen back into line after a promising start. In 10 games played, the defector from the Danish championship and Nordsjaelland has only scored one goal and one assist. Too little for the expectations placed in him, who last season scored 15 goals and 4 assists in 34 games. He has yet to make his mark in Ligue 1. The Olympico would be an excellent opportunity to relaunch his career.
Another striker on whom Lyon have put their faith is Guinea-Bissau's Mama Baldé, who last year had some respectable statistics with Estac (34 games, 12 goals, 3 assists). But the player, like the rest of the Gones team, is not in good form in terms of his statistics. He has no goals or assists in 10 games played, mostly as a substitute. Which is also to say that he hasn't yet been given his full chance.Perhaps with the new coach. His predecessors preferred Lacazette more often than not.
For Lyon, the problem seems to go beyond individuals, to concern the club as a whole, with an administrative crisis. The presidency doesn't know what direction it's going in, as evidenced by the changes of coaches and problems with the fans.Logically, this affects the players, who are not in the right environment to express their talent.
Lyon with its current interim coach Pierre Sage, showed signs of improvement against Lens despite the defeat (3-2). A win against Marseille could signal a fresh start for the squad, and set them on the road to recovery. The Africans, like Nuamah and Baldé in attack and Diomandé in defence, have a lot to play for. And if there's one match that's ideal for getting back on track and reconciling with the public, it's the clash of the Olympiques. Marseille are also enjoying a good period, and a win over Lyon would be the definitive launch of their season. The Africans will be particularly keen to keep an eye on both teams in this match like no other!
⚔️ 𝐉𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐃𝐄 𝐌𝐀𝐓𝐂𝐇 ⚔️
Nos 𝑶𝒍𝒚𝒎𝒑𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒔 reçoivent Lyon ce soir à l’@orangevelodrome 🏠, coup d’envoi à 21h 🔥
— Olympique de Marseille (@OM_Officiel) December 6, 2023