OM - Dijon (2-0) : Two headers seal the points
OM made their return to action on Sunday evening, more than two weeks after playing their last match, to face bottom-placed Dijon in the closing game of the 31st round of Ligue 1 Uber Eats. It was a good opportunity for Jorge Sampaoli to work in-depth with his squad during the international break. The Argentine coach had to compose his starting eleven with several absentees (Rongier, Amavi, Caleta-Car and Nagatomo). The absence of the Japanese pushed the coach to find a solution at left-back. A solution named Luis Henrique, who played alongside Balerdi, Alvaro, Sakai and Lirola in defence. In midfield, Bouba Kamara returned with Gueye and Thauvin in front of him. Finally, Milik and Payet occupied the top of the attack.
The OM XI : Mandanda (cap) - Lirola, Sakai, Alvaro, Balerdi, Henrique - Thauvin, Kamara, Gueye - Payet, Milik.
HOMAGE TO PAPE DIOUF
Before the start of the match, all the players held a minute's applause in memory of Pape Diouf, former President of the club (2005-2009). Diouf, who died a year ago as a result of Covid-19, left his mark on the club through his actions and his love for Olympique de Marseille.
BALERDI'S coup de tête
Against the bottom of the league, the Olympiens could have expected a liberated team that had come to play their luck, even though they were almost doomed to go down. In the end, they found themselves up against a low, tightly-packed block of five defenders. It's a good thing that we had a lot of possession (71.5% at half-time) and we had a lot of shots from distance (Payet, then Milik, 30th) and a lot of chances on the flanks with Lirola's numerous runs, but alas, nothing paid off until the 45th minute.
The opening goal finally came from a set-piece in the final seconds of the first half. Balerdi took Payet's corner and sent a superb header past Allagbe. The Argentinian scored his second goal for OM, his second with his head.
Alvaro SETS OM ON ITS WAY
After conceding the opening goal, the Dijon players were bound to open up, leaving more and more space for the Marseille players, who were all present in the opposition half. Payet had two chances to double the lead but he failed to hit the target (54th) and was then denied by Allagbe. Lirola was impressive on the right, covering countless miles and sending in a number of dangerous crosses. The Olympians' perseverance finally paid off, once again from a set-piece. A free-kick kicked by Payet for a header by Alvaro, and OM were safe.
EUROPE COMES INTO VIEW
Thanks to this victory (2-0), OM have 48 points and are now in sixth place. The Olympiens are now just one point behind Lens (49 points), who drew with Lyon. The race for Europe continues, nothing is definite, and OM will have a thrilling match to play next Saturday, 10 April, against Montpellier: a direct competitor.