In the Champions League, Olympique de Marseille still can’t do it

The Champions League had never seen the new Stade-Vélodrome full due to the works – between 2011 and 2014 – and behind closed doors due to Covid-19, in 2020-2021… The Marseille public had been waiting for this gala evening for a long time . Tuesday, September 13, 63,000 spectators – gauge set by the club which stopped ticket sales – experienced the defeat (0-1) of OM against Eintracht Frankfurt, the last winner of the Europa League.

Despite its partially renewed workforce, its coach – Igor Tudor – finalist in the competition in 2003 (with Juventus Turin) and its excellent start in Ligue 1, the Marseille club remains stuck in the curse that affects it in the premier event of the European soccer. Beaten in London by Tottenham (0-2) a week earlier, Marseille chained against Frankfurt their sixteenth defeat in seventeen games in the Champions League. And is already mortgaging its chances of reaching the knockout stages in the spring.

Read also: Marseille-Frankfurt: clumsy, the Phocaeans are again defeated in the Champions League

The game took place in a tense atmosphere. After a few clashes between supporters the night before the match, the day had been rather calm in town. The massive police force – nearly 600 police forces deployed in the center and around the stadium – avoided the dreaded excesses. Gathered in a specific area, Place de la Joliette, a few kilometers from the Vélodrome, the 3,300 German supporters were transported in around thirty buses to the stadium. Without major incident.

It was only once in their gallery that things went wrong. The police chief of Bouches-du-Rhône reported to the European Football Union (UEFA) a series of Nazi salutes. And the CRS used tear gas before settling as a buffer between the Germans and the Marseillais. An hour before kick-off, the two Marseille corners were already full so as not to let the strong Frankfurt colony win the noise challenge.

Payet, the shadow of its past splendor

The confrontation was not only vocal. As the players warmed up, the north corner and the opposing stand exchanged fire from pyrotechnic devices. Fireworks as dangerous as they are unacceptable in a sports arena, which started again in the middle of the second half and then at the end of the match. A German supporter was hospitalized after being hit by a smoke bomb and three members of the security forces were injured.

We now know that Igor Tudor is a man of convictions. And until Tuesday evening, it had rather succeeded. Despite the absence of Chancel MBemba and Samuel Gigot, two of his most used central defenders since the start of the season, the Croatian coach of OM has not changed his three behind system. As promised the day before, Tudor revived the Argentinian Leonardo Balerdi, yet catastrophic against Lille three days earlier.

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