Olympique de Marseille – AS Monaco (L1, 20th day): Does OM have champion potential?

It was two months ago. Marseille was about to relapse. In Monaco, the Marseillais were in a bad way to confirm their recovery, a week after the victory against Lyon (1-0), which ended a series of five unsuccessful matches, including four losses. Kevin Volland had given ASM an advantage that seemed decisive, a good quarter of an hour from the final whistle. OM, bruised by the serious injury of Amine Harit a few minutes earlier, was lost. That’s exactly where he was. Determined, as possessed, they had reversed the situation to impose themselves on Louis-II (2-3).

Two months later, at the time of finding the Monegasques, the Olympians are still surfing on this wave. She brought them back to the heights of the rankings. And not so far from its peak. A success against the Principality club would temporarily place the formation of Igor Tudor two short lengths from the leader’s chair. The title race is no longer a taboo subject. Not only because the PSG, arch-favorite for its own succession, is far from being sovereign at the start of the year. Especially because this OM always shows more credible arguments to do better than tease him. Even if it is necessary to put them into perspective.

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Collective certainties

The first is its quality of play. The victory won against Rennes, a team that has the answer in this area, last week in the Coupe de France (1-0) confirmed the current collective superiority of the Marseillais. The players have integrated the principles of Igor Tudor in the desire to defend while advancing and to impose pressure which ends up stifling the opponent. Marseille has thus found an offensive strike force which it lacked at the start of the season. Largely thanks to the overrunning of the function of the defenders. They don’t just score or assist. They mainly bring a surplus and a creation of shifts which make this OM difficult to defend for the adversary.

Sead Kolasinac and Chancel Mbemba, symbols of the offensive virtues of OM’s defense

Credit: Imago

The Tudor style allows very strong beats as much as it implies very weak beats. Two facets symbolized respectively by the first half hour against Rennes, particularly successful, and the last, much more delicate. “We have intense pressure, so we can be countered, and in the use of the ball we can also be put in difficulty“, summed up Samuel Gigot on Thursday at a press conference. OM had thus fallen back after the opener on the hour mark against the Bretons. He had maintained his advantage until the end, but conceded many chances. The Tudor team is formidable when it advances, but it has less mastery of the art of hunkering down.

A physical superiority

It is certainly OM’s best asset. The Marseillais have made the difference on their athletic dimension in recent weeks, a phenomenon perfectly summed up by Mattéo Guendouzi after the victory against Rennes. “We made very difficult preparations, and it shows now because I think that each time we are far above physicallyestimated the Olympian midfielder. In the races, in the duels, we really show very beautiful things. This pressing requires a lot of intensity, we do it very well, we have had a very good physique since the start of the season and we continue to improve.”

Mattéo Guendouzi (OM) scored the only goal of the match against Rennes, Friday January 20, 2023. / Coupe de France

Credit: Getty Images

His physical strength is also likely to become his weakness. Tudor’s particularly energy-intensive style of play is a double-edged sword. Marseille is getting better and better at maintaining a rhythm over time, but it inevitably has a drop in speed which makes it vulnerable. In a match but also, potentially, in the second half of the season where the meetings will follow one another at high frequency, even without the European Cup. The Marseillais are capable of providing high intensity efforts, but they still have a significant margin of improvement to know how to manage them. It is this management capacity that will say everything about their ambitions.

Measured confidence

It’s the little extra that changes everything. What was probably missing in the series of five matches without a win between mid-October and the beginning of November, and which transpires in this series of eight consecutive successes. The Marseillais have regained faith, in themselves and in their game.The more the players are convinced by what we can do, the better it is for the coachunderlined Tudor Thursday in a press conference. This is the case right now. But be careful, the dynamics can very quickly be reversed“Marseille has gone through too many different phases this season to become overconfident.”You have to stay humble when you do a series like this“, insisted Gigot.

Caution is more of a virtue. Especially in communication with the media, an area where it is always better not to get inflamed. But it should not limit the ambitions of Marseille so far. The Tudor team has proven that it is capable of obtaining the best results through its qualities in the game. Whether it announces it or not, the Marseille club is a contender for the title at the moment T. Above all, he gave off the impression of a team made to let go of the horses rather than to bridle them. Not wanting to fall into euphoria is commendable, but this OM must not refrain from creating it and surfing on it. Because the opportunity is there, and Marseille would be wrong not to seize it head on

Igor Tudor, coach of Olympique de Marseille

Credit: Getty Images

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