Europa League – Aubameyang’s failure, mixed show at the Vélodrome The tops and flops of OM/Atalanta (1-1)

THE TOPS

OM rises to the occasion

It’s definitely in their DNA. The Olympique de Marseille players responded in this first act of the semi-final. Apart from the first 10 minutes where they suffered pressure from Atalanta and conceded a goal on the opponent’s first shot, Jean-Louis Gasset’s men showed a conquering face. They were first able to react by equalizing very quickly. And they managed the slow times intelligently, like Leonardo Balerdi as boss.

Intensely, the Olympians gradually gained the upper hand over a team which still managed to beat Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield in the previous round. Jordan Vérétout’s teammates are halfway there (1-1) and can seriously believe in their chances. They did not come far from winning but there was a lack of success, notably Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Azzédine Ounahi. No Marseillais missed out, even if Amir Murillo particularly suffered, and the replacements contributed. So encouraging.

The Vélodrome, eternal volcano

Said and retold? Not false. We will therefore try to avoid falling into rhetoric. But the atmosphere of big evenings at the Vélodrome is still something. From the moment of tifos to the many “He who does not jump is not from Marseille“, passing through the “to arms” deafening in the 75th minute, the 64,711 people present were able to create an atmosphere worthy of a European semi-final. Which no one doubted, moreover. But it is always good to remember that when he gets on his 31, the Vélodrome is a real factor. Whatever the opponent, the Marseille venue is unique.

Commenting on the match for the Sky Italia channel, Giancarlo Marocchi, starter in the 1999 UEFA Cup semi-final between OM and Bologna, remembered that he “couldn’t hear anything anymore” at the time once on the ground. “I also said it to Gasperini (Atalanta coach, editor’s note) before the match (…) It’s a stadium that leaves a lasting impression“, he smiled. And crosses the generations. “It’s a wonderful stadium, very beautiful. The noise, what he gives to his team… It gives them something more. We suffered but we played with personality and it wasn’t easy in this atmosphere“, summed up Gasperini in a press conference after the meeting.

The Vélodrome is boiling against Atalanta.

Credit: Getty Images

Balerdi-Scamacca: duel within the duel

A treat, from the start to… the 58th minute, when Scamacca left to make way for Lookman. But the Italian striker and the OM defender gave us a real balance of power for almost an hour. Sometimes during misinformation, when the first asked, after a few minutes, for a non-existent corner, to which Balerdi kindly told him to keep quiet, causing his opponent to smile big. The two often elbowed each other, sometimes in a rough manner, but never exaggerated. The duel remained correct and never got out of hand. If Balerdi ends up receiving a yellow card, it will be for a shirt pulling on De Ketelaere (68th). Looking forward to the return.

Mbemba, defender-artificer

He equalized with a truly classy striker’s move. Chancel Mbemba lit the fuse in the 20th minute with a curling shot from the right. Although positioned in the axis, the Olympique de Marseille defender managed to find an unstoppable area for Juan Musso who helplessly watched this little gem. Injured and absent for three matches, the Congolese started the match with difficulty but symbolizes the awakening of OM. With this goal, his sixth in European competition, Mbemba became the most effective Marseille defender in front of goal ahead of Taye Taiwo (5 goals), Gabriel Heinze and a certain Basile Boli (3 goals).

FLOPS

A failure that will prevent him from sleeping: Aubameyang had the ball for 2-1

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang risks thinking about this one for a long time. Author of 27 goals and 9 assists this season, the Gabonese striker was on the verge (or two centimeters) of giving OM the advantage just before half-time. Perfectly served by Amine Harit, “PEA” appeared in the left side penalty area, alone, before striking with his left foot… and seeing his ball crossed too far. A failure, let it be said. Especially for a player of this caliber and in such an appointment. We can only hope that it will have no consequences on this double confrontation.

In the stands of the atmosphere… and unacceptable gestures

Helped by an exceptional security system, the reception of some 2,800 Atalanta supporters did not pose a problem before kick-off. But inside the Vélodrome, OM supporters filmed unacceptable gestures on the part of certain Tifosi present in the parking lot. We see imitations of monkeys and Nazi salutes. Totally unacceptable gestures of racism, which continue to be rife in football and notably pushed Mike Maignan to stop a Serie A match several months ago.

Kolasinac, the reunion was cut short

He returned to the Vélodrome for the first time since his departure last summer. And it was as intense as it was short. A few minutes after an extremis rescue of the head to save his family, Sead Kolasinac was forced to request intervention from his trainers for a muscle injury. Grimacing, the defender, indisputable holder of the Dea since his arrival, ended up giving up his arms and leaving the field. An injury which hurt the Bergamasques, forced to change system and adapt Marten de Roon in central defense. “His injury was a big blow, we will see if we can get him back but it will be difficult”, reacted Gian Piero Gasperini at the microphone of Sky Italia after the meeting.

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Kolasinac found Harit.

Credit: Getty Images

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