Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Can OM snatch podium place after final agony?

Publish on 18/05/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS


Olympique de Marseille must put their Europa League final agony behind them quickly as they host Amiens SC at the Orange Vélodrome needing a win to keep their podium hopes alive.

Olympique de Marseille  -  Amiens SC

After the euphoria of reaching the final, and the excitement of the build-up, Wednesday turned out to be a flat occasion for Rudi Garcia's side. They were well beaten, losing 3-0 to Atlético Madrid, for whom Antoine Griezmann scored twice in Lyon.

OM will look back with regret on Valère Germain's early miss with the game still goalless, and the loss of skipper Dimitri Payet to injury shortly after they fell behind was a huge blow too.

Nevertheless, after the game, Marseille players sought to take positives from what was a wonderful run in the competition, featuring memorable wins over RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals and Salzburg in the last four.

"It was magnificent. We have the best fans in France, some of the best in Europe. We are starting to have a team. It is not long since the new owners came in. OM have come a long way," insisted defender Adil Rami, who was named in France's World Cup squad on Thursday by coach Didier Deschamps.

Marseille's last league outing was a thriller

"Everyone has to start somewhere, and our start has not been too bad. I am sure that Marseille in three, four or five years, will be a team who can do damage in the Champions League. I will no longer be there, but I really hope that is the case," added Rami, who will not play against Amiens due to a ban.

The question now is will OM be in the Champions League next season? They come into the final weekend in fourth place, one point behind Olympique Lyonnais and with a goal difference inferior by 11. They are three points behind AS Monaco in second.

The top all three will now all qualify automatically for the Champions League group stage, but Garcia's side realistically have to win against Amiens and then hope Lyon drop points, which could happen as they host Europa League-chasing OGC Nice. A win could also see them leapfrog Monaco should the principality club lose at relegation-threatened ESTAC Troyes, although OM would need a goal difference swing there too.

'A second final'

"Against Atletico you always get the impression that you can get past them, but in the end you can't. We will put the frustration behind us as quickly as possible, get it out of our minds and get back down to business," insisted Germain, the former Monaco striker who has scored nine Ligue 1 Conforama goals this season.

"We have a second final to try to win. If we want to play against top European sides again, we need to win on Saturday."

Marseille are unbeaten in their last seven league games, but they missed a trick last weekend by drawing 3-3 away at EA Guingamp, despite leading 2-0 at one point. Steve Mandanda is able to play in goal after the red card he was shown in Brittany was annulled.

Amiens beat Metz in final home game

Payet will also be absent with his hamstring injury, which has also cost him a place in France's World Cup squad, making it an agonising week for the ex-West Ham United playmaker.

A 2-0 win in Amiens in September was a turning point in Marseille's season, coming on the back of heavy defeats at Monaco (6-1) and against Stade Rennais FC (1-3). But this has also been a superb campaign for the Picardy side, who could yet finish as high as 11th in their debut Ligue 1 Conforama season.

Christophe Pelissier's side secured survival with time to spare and last week they beat relegated FC Metz 2-0 at the Stade de la Licorne. That means they have lost just once in their last nine outings, a run that has included draws with Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

"We will fight and do everything to upset them. It is true that I like Marseille but I work for Amiens, so if I can score a goal then I will," said Harrison Manzala, who scored a penalty in the win against Metz.

"They are playing for something but so are we, in terms of our position in the league table. It will be a great occasion and I will get to see (Florian) Thauvin, who I got to know at Bastia."

Probable teams

Marseille: Mandanda – B. Sarr, Bo. Kamara, Luiz Gustavo (cap), Sakai – M. Lopez, Anguissa – Thauvin, Sanson, Ocampos – Mitroglou

Amiens: Gurtner – I. Cissokho, Gouano (cap), Adenon, Avelar – Monconduit, Bodmer – Cornette, Kakuta, Manzala – Mo. Konaté