The teammates of Loïs Openda and Alexis Sanchez will battle Bollaert-Delelis for second place in the championship on Saturday, during the shock of the 34th day of Ligue 1.
Towards the C1 and perhaps beyond. RC Lens (3rd, 69 points) and Olympique de Marseille (2nd, 70 points) meet at the Bollaert stadium-Delelis, Saturday May 6 (9 p.m.), for a decisive meeting in the race for second place in the championship, synonymous with direct qualification in the Champions League. And by dint of fighting for this place of dolphin, behind a Parisian leader limping lately, the men of Franck Haise and Igor Tudor have inevitably come closer to first place in Ligue 1.
The Champions League … And more if you like
“We are very close to the leader, I believe we can still be champions”. After the victory against Auxerre (2-1) on Sunday, did Alexis Sanchez reveal the unacknowledged objective of the Marseillais on Prime Video? In any event, in the event of a victory for Marseille or Lens on Saturday, Paris Saint-Germain, which travels to Troyes on Sunday (9 p.m.), would temporarily only be two or more points ahead of the second. A first for more than three months.
But if neither of the two teams wins, the capital club could once again widen the gap on the Trojan lawn, and would then only have two more victories to go for in the last four days of Ligue 1 for s securing his eleventh national crown, an absolute record.
Marseille coach Igor Tudor, however, did not want to utter the word ‘final’ at a press conference on Thursday, May 4. “It’s a great gametempered the Croatian tactician. The players felt it, they have never trained as well as this week”, reveals the Croatian technician, who salutes the intensity put by the Lensois. “There is the same energy and the same desire to develop attacking football. They defend a little differently, with more pressure in the zone, but it’s the same attacking style, with runs, aggression, fluidity in the game.”
For Franck Haise, the pressure is on the Marseille side. “We will try to play our best match possible, against an opponent who always aims to get first place.underlined the Lensois coach. It will take an appetite, that’s for sure. There will be some on the other side. It’s a good game to play, the second against the third five days from the end, it’s not trivial”notes the Lensois coach.
The Marseille warriors facing the Artesian fortress
For the 24th consecutive time, the lair of Blood and Gold will be sold out. Regularity in the stands well rendered by the Lensois players. Franck Haise’s gang have won 14 of their 16 league appearances (draw against Lille, defeat against Nice), the club’s best total for 40 years. It’s simple: Racing Club de Lens has the best home record of the five major European leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France), tied with… Manchester City, current Premier League leaders. “I would like to play and, at the same time, be a spectator“, smiled Brice Samba, the Sang et Or goalkeeper, Friday at a press conference.Bollaert, it’s beautiful, it’s the beauty of football”picture him the Marseillais Leonardo Balerdi.
But on Saturday, the Artesian fortress is preparing for a full-scale assault. The Marseille warriors, undefeated in their last 11 trips to Ligue 1 (nine wins, two draws), have established themselves as one of the best teams in Europe far from their land. “Marseille’s intensity of pressing has no equivalent in our league, that’s why a lot of teams break their teeth there”recalls Haise. Second-best European away record behind Napoli, already crowned Serie A champion, the Marseillais arrive in full confidence, especially since they have not lost to Bollaert in the league since November 28, 2009.
Loïs Openda and Alexis Sanchez, duel of gunners
With almost full squads (only Azzedine Ounahi and Amine Harit, injured, and Salis Abdul Samed, suspended, are missing), the difference could come from the two key attackers: Lensois Loïs Openda against Marseilais Alexis Sanchez. The first, spearhead of the Blood and Gold, fis one of the four top scorers in Ligue 1 with 18 goals. A unique feat in Europe, all of the Belgian’s goals were scored in the game. A well-targeted threat by the Marseille defense. “He is able to attack well, to seek depthrecognizes Balerdi. We have to communicate well in defense so as not to be surprised.”
On the other side of the field, near the Lens surface, Alexis Sanchez will also be closely watched. OM’s top scorer this season (13 goals in Ligue 1), the Chilean has already scored more league goals than in his last two combined seasons with Inter Milan (7 in 2020/21, 5 in 2021/22 ). “He’s a player with a lot of experience and qualities. In this kind of match, he’s a real asset”, observe Balerdi. Freshly landed this summer, Loïs Openda and Alexis Sanchez quickly acclimatized to their respective new tunics. On Saturday, they have the opportunity to take their team to a new dimension.