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Olympique Marseille – LOSC Lille: 2-0

The two starting line-ups: Morel was moving forward a lot, so was Cheyrou and Hazard was playing more in the middle than on the wing

Yesterday, the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille was the scene of one of the best matches in France since some weeks. Olympique Marseille won 2-0 against the current French champion LOSC Lille. Loïc Rémy, Marseille’s forward who has recently been linked with Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspurs scored twice. Thanks to his brace, the Southern French are only 2 points away from the third on the podium, Lille.

Marseille’s richly deserved win over the “Dogues” (mastiffs) has set an end to Lille’s amazing run of 17 consecutive games in the French league without losing. They hadn’t lost since the second matchday when they lost 0-1 against Montpellier who are on the second place of the Ligue 1 at the moment. Away, LOSC hadn’t even lost since 13 matches since their 0-1 defeat in Monaco on the 9th of April 2011.

But Marseille didn’t only set an end to Lille’s run, they also continued their own run. After they had been on the rock bottom of the French league on the tenth matchday after a 0-2 defeat against Lyon, they were 10 points behind Lille and 11 behind Lyon and Montpellier. After a sensational comeback they are only 2 points behind Lille, 1 behind Lyon but still 6 behind Montpellier. They have won all of their 5 last matches.

Both teams were starting in a 4-3-3, thus Marseille much more offensively-minded than expected. Lille were actually – contrary to their philosophy and the expectations – really defensively-minded and trying to reduce spaces for Marseille what didn’t always work as you will see later. OM was the dominating team over 90 minutes, they had a possession of ball of 53.8% and played 557 passes (272 in the own half, 285 in Lille’s one) of which 82% came to their team mates, even though Lille is the best ball keeping team of the Ligue 1: on an average they have a possession of ball of 60% a game! Lille only passed 478 times (198 times in the own half, 280 times in OM’s) of which 80% were successful.

He's truly a great manager!

Marseille was playing as expected with Mandanda, Azpilicueta, Mbia, Nkoulou, Morel, Lucho Gonzalez, Alou Diarra, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Rémy and Valbuena and didn’t have to make any changes unlike Lille who had to replace their whole defense except of Chedjou (CB). Their full backs Debuchy and Béria were either suspended or injured and Marko Basa, their other central back couldn’t play because of an injury of the shoulder. He was replaced by David Rozehnal, the former HSV player and Souaré and Bonnart were playing as full backs. Benoît Pedretti was for the first time after the 30th of October 2011 in the starting line-up again and helped Mavuba and Balmont in the midfield. The forward line was being represented by Eden Hazard, Ireneusz Jelen and Joe Cole.

As Marseille was dominating the game from the very beginning on, they also had the first great opportunity of the game in the 7th minute. After a beautiful combination on the right wing, Amalfitano plays in the back of the defense where Cheydrou did get the ball but his shot was way too high. In the 12th minute Hazard should have gotten a penalty after he had been fouled by Diarra but the referee didn’t do anything.

In the sequel, Lille’s defense became weaker and there were many spaces for Marseille such as in the 22nd minute when Valbuena crossed to Rémy who was free in front of Landreau but failed in the end. In the 27th minute, Rémy had a great opportunity again but his shot was blocked by Chedjou’s back. The last opportunity in the first half was happening again in Lille’s half in the 43rd minute when Cheydrou foundered twice, once on Landreau and the second time his shot wasn’t precise enough.

Again: Come to Bayern, man!

In the second half, Lille already had the first shot on target after only 21 seconds but Jelen’s shot was way too harmless. 3 minutes later, Landreau was forced to a parade by Mathieu Valbuena who was playing amazingly. In the 61st minute, Valbuena and Lucho Gonzalez who played a great game as well, had a great combination to get into LOSC’s box, the French national player crossed to Rémy who scored with a very good header. This goal was due to a horribly standing defense from Lille of which more later in the tactical part.

Only 4 minutes after the 1-0, Hazard won a duel against Nkoulou but his shot was stopped by Mandanda. The last important scene of the game happened in the 83rd minute when Rémy scored his second goal. Chedjou wanted to win the ball but somehow the ball also touches the foot of a player from Marseille and the ball flies high into Lille’s half. Rémy is already sprinting to get the ball and he’s almost alone. Landreau leaves his goal to get the ball but Rémy is faster and eventually scores. It wasn’t totally Landreau’s fault though, he had no other choice than coming out of the box.

In the end, Marseille did deserve the 2-0 win and could even have won with a higher score with a bit more luck. Lille only shot on target twice while Marseille was much more dangerous: 7 shots on target, 4 by Rémy, 2 by Valbuena and 1 by Cheydrou. Lille lost the game in the midfield, they lost the ball too many times and Marseille’s defensive midfield was just too strong. Alou Diarra and Lucho Gonzalez played amazingly and made many important interceptions. Marseille’s whole defense was just amazing what I’ll show you later in the tactical part. It was a very fair game, the referee only showed 3 yellow cards, all to players from Marseille.


The man of the match was undoubtedly Loïc Rémy. He has scored for the 9th time in the French league and altogether 18 times in every competition. It was his sixth header-goal, an European record for the current season. But I actually think that Jeremy Morel, OM’s left full-back had been playing an important role as well. He was always standing very deep in Lille’s half and helped to create a superior or at least equal number of blue players (compared to red players) in front of the ball and his tactical role was precious for Didier Deschamps’ team. Morel played 80 passes of which 61 were successful, he won the ball 11 times but also lost it 18 times. He crossed 4 times into the opponent’s box, got booked once and was fouled twice. Even though all those stats don’t look that amazing and L’Equipe only gave him a 4, his tactical role was actually very important for Marseille’s win.

As already said, I’ll also write a bit about tactics:
Marseille won the game because they were pressing forward very well and already tried to win the ball deep in Lille’s half. Their back fours were standing tightly to each other and there wasn’t any space for Lille to come through. Furthermore their back fours were always defending on one line which was even trickier for Lille’s forward line and midfield. Marseille could also use the space Lille was offering them but not always as you will see on the following pictures.

Marseille's (take it literally!) forward line: pressing forward and Lille has problems to play the ball to their own forwards

Marseille's back fours are standing really tightly to each other and Hazard is between the lines. His team mate can't pass him though because Marseille's CB could attack him immediately, Alou Diarra would make a pass to the striker on the left side impossible and so would Azpilicueta on the right one.

Lille is deep in OM's half but they cannot go through because Marseille's back fours are standing way to tightly. Furthermore 4 of them are standing on a perfect line which doesn't help Lille at all.

The only mistake by Marseille's defense: There's too much space in their back, Jelen wants to use it, Hazard (red), though, doesn't play the pass (blue) and will try to score by himself in the end what won't work.

22' minute: Lille's defenders don't care about Rémy who uses the free space what will end up in a great opportunity for OM since Valbuena will cross to his striker (blue). Not only Lille's defenders but also their defensive midfield is responsible for that chance because they can't steal the ball from Valbuena.

A lot of free space for Lucho but he doesn't see it and will fail with a dribbling. Morel is the guy on the left corner of the free space (yellow).

Again lots of free space, this time for Alou Diarra. Since Marseille has 5 players in front of the ball, Diarra has 2 great passing possibilities (blue).

Rémy's first goal: Valbuena and Lucho just had a great combination. Valbuena crosses to Rémy (blue) who is unchallenged because Lille's whole defense is standing to far away from OM's strikers (black lines). There was a second striker on the other end of the box if Rémy wouldn't have gotten the ball. Furthermore there's a lot of space (yellow) in the back of the defense where Valbuena would have had 2 great passing opportunities as well. Again the guy on the left corner of the free space is Morel.

Thank you SO much for reading this review of that amazing match! 🙂 Please excuse my rubbish drawing on Photoshop, I did do my best! 😉 You will be loved for ratings and comments! 😀

4 comments on “Olympique Marseille – LOSC Lille: 2-0

  1. Dan
    January 16, 2012

    Brilliant review! 😀

    • Sébastien
      January 16, 2012

      Thank you a lot for your comment, man! 😀 It means a lot to me!

  2. Saphia
    January 19, 2012

    Very interesting, good Analysis, Your drawings are very efficient to understand the tactics. Good job.!

    • Sébastien
      January 19, 2012

      Thank you very much for your comment, it’s a great motivation and does mean a lot to me! 🙂

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