OM out to bounce back against Evian
By I. Holyman
Olympique de Marseille will hope they can shake off their lethargic recent form when they host struggling Evian-Thonon-Gaillard FC on Saturday.
Olympique de Marseille - Evian TG FC
Marcelo Bielsa's men were the toast of France when they reeled off eight straight wins to race to the top of the table. They have since been overtaken by Olympique Lyonnais, but though they have held on to second place, they have struggled to get into gear since the turn of the year. Stunned at Grenoble in the Coupe de France, OM have lost three of their last four competitive games, including slipping to a 2-1 derby defeat at OGC Nice last weekend.
Bielsa calls for cutting edge
"We did enough to win the game, and we should have scored more goals. The team's intentions were good, and our ideas were too," said Bielsa, whose side succumbed at the Allianz Rivieira, despite the hosts' Kevin Gomis being sent off early in the second half.
"I admire our opponents, who played for 35 minutes with ten men and never stopped attacking. Against Montpellier, our shortcomings were clear, but I don't think we deserved to lose this game. My team created ten chances, our opponents four, two of which came from set-pieces. The balance of play was in our favour, we put in the effort required. The explanation is the same as in many matches: avoidable things keep happening. Our opponents don't need many chances to score, and though we go towards goal with some great play, we need a lot of chances to score a goal."
The problem may lie with leading scorer André-Pierre Gignac, who - after a glut of eight goals in his first seven league games - has scored just five times since and has found the net just once in his last five Ligue 1 encounters.
ETG would, however, love to have a striker with 13 goals like Gignac. Pascal Dupraz's men collectively have just 11 more strikes to their name than OM's French international forward, even if it is at the opposite end of the pitch where their main problem lies.
No team has conceded more goals than ETG in Ligue 1 this season, though the vocal Dupraz did see his team keep a clean sheet and claim a welcome first win in seven league matches with a 1-0 defeat of Toulouse last Sunday, even if the ETG boss was still not happy.
Dupraz: 'Cannot be satisfied'
"We won today, but that is all we can take away from the match. We opened the scoring very early on through Adrien Thomasson, but that failed to release us. It was a dull game, certainly our worst since the beginning of the season. When you are a coach, you cannot be satisfied winning like this. But there are a few explanations for this," Dupraz told the media.
"First, there was a bit of fear playing against a team so close to us in the table. The second thing was players trying to do too much, with unnecessary runs with the ball. They overcomplicated things. Exceptional players can do that, but with all due respect we don't have many of them on our books. Today, we owe this victory to luck and especially our goalkeeper."
Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda (c); B. Djadjédjé, Fanni, J. Morel, Ben. Mendy; Romao, Imbula; Thauvin, Payet, Alessandrini; Gignac
Evian-Thonon-Gaillard: B. Leroy; Abdallah, Cambon, Nounkeu, Sabaly; D. Koné, Sorlin (c); Benezet, Wass, Barbosa; Ramirez