Olympique de Marseille lost in a friendly against Slovak club FC DAC on Saturday (2-1) after two big wins. First assessment of the training course.
Olympique de Marseille ended their German training camp with a 2-1 defeat against Slovak DAC in Kufstein, Austria, on Saturday, but Andre Villas-Boas has a positive assessment of the Bavarian eight. "The physical goal was achieved, but not the result," explained the Portuguese coach.
After two easy victories against an Austrian D3, FC Pinzgau (5-1), and a German D4, SC Heimstetten (6-1), OM stumbled against FC DAC Dunajska Streda. "The first two games, the opposition was at a lower level, but it was good for confidence and automatisms," said AVB, who wants to be ready on 21 August for the resumption of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats against AS Saint-Etienne.
Young guns shine
The young people at the centre have distinguished themselves. Marley Aké scored an opportunistic double against Heimstetten in the first half and was physically stronger and more resistant to the shocks of the defenders. Florian Chabrolle also scored a goal against the Germans, but against the Slovaks, he fluffed his lines with a wayward pass that gifted DAC's Eric Ramirez the opening goal (19').
"That means we have a good youth academy and that the work is starting to pay off," said Boubacar Kamara, the idol of all the youngsters, having secured starter status before his 20th birthday. Kamara is set to spend the upcoming season patrolling in front of the back four, AVB explained, as the arrival of Argentine stopper Leonardo Balderi on loan from Borussia Dortmund means Kamara will not be required to help out in defence.
New faces make progress
Two recruits arrived in the middle of the pre-season camp: Pape Gueye (AC Le Havre) when the team was in Portugal, and Balerdi, during the Bavarian leg. The defensive midfielder has already shown his qualities.
"Pape was good as a number 6," AVB declared. "He covered the width of the game well and made some interceptions. His first goal [against Pinzgau] will help him a little with his confidence."
Arriving on Tuesday evening, Balerdi played the last quarter of an hour against FC DAC, in place of Caleta-Car. A defensive midfielder and a central midfielder were the coach's priority objectives, and he is still hoping for a left-back to deputise for Jordan Amavi, as well as a striker.
Big names warming up
In empty stadiums, Alvaro Gonzalez can be heard calling the shots. He's the boss. However, it was Hungary's Kalmar Zsolt, who scored his own free-kick into the far corner of the Mandanda goal (33') after being fouled by the Spaniard, who had the last word.
Caleta-Car was on point with his raking 40-metre switches of play, while Dimitri Payet had bagged a goal and an assist in the Heimstetten match. Finally, Florian Thauvin, who is something like a new recruit following an injury-smothered season 2019-20, showed he has plenty in the tank, scoring from the spot - his first goal since 11 June 2019 with Les Bleus in Andorra (4-0). Dario Benedetto had scored in the second match but missed some good chances in the third.
"We've had a lot of physical activity over the past nine days," said Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman. "We've worked hard, but we have to be ready for the first league game."
OM's pre-season preparations will continue to ramp up ahead of the new Ligue 1 Uber Eats season, and their next friendly opponent - Bayern Munich, on 31 July -are certainly of a different calibre.
FC DAC - OM: 2-1 (Thauvin, pen.)
First half: Mandanda (c); Sarr, Alvaro, Caleta-Car, Amavi; Chabrolle, Pa. Gueye, Sanson; Germain, Aké, Payet
Second half: Mandanda (c); Sakai, Alvaro, Caleta-Car (Balerdi, 77'), Khaoui; Rongier, Kamara, Strootman; Thauvin, Benedetto, Radonjic(Photo: OM)