It is not really for this kind of evening that Olympique de Marseille has found the Champions League.
An advanced schedule where the sun has not set (this Tuesday at 6:45 p.m., Canal+ Foot and RMC), a Stade-Vélodrome behind closed doors after the incidents against Frankfurt on September 13 and a serious opponent, of course, but not a cador.
The problem is that these less high-sounding names on paper still thwart OM.
Defeated at Tottenham (2-0), then by Frankfurt (0-1), Igor Tudor's players have almost no room for error.
Unlike Sporting Portugal, confident after dominating the Germans (0-3) and the English (2-0).
Spring, European or not, will take shape in a very hollow enclosure, between two mistral breezes.
"It shouldn't matter
," swept Tudor.
It's sure it's a shame, our supporters will miss us, but we have to do the job on the field, that the players are concentrated
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The absence of the public returns OM to the ghosts of the past.
Two years ago, football resumed in the heavy atmosphere of Covid-19, synonymous with empty stands, health precaution requires.
The Phocaeans had completed a pitiful Champions League campaign (1 win, 5 losses) which did not make us forget the zero points of the 2013-2014 season (6 losses).
“We aspire to do much better
, announced captain Dimitri Payet in early September.
We have a homogeneous group, we have our chances
is true that OM could not have hoped for a more lenient draw.
The disappointment of a 4th place, which would not even put him back in the play-offs for the Europa League, would only be greater.
This "plan B"
as Payet pointed out, will not be buried before the return matches (Tottenham and Frankfurt have 3 points, OM zero).
But it will not satisfy the president, Pablo Longoria.
Champions League: this statistic that makes OM dizzy
First, because the financial gulf between C1 and C3 is immense.
Last season, qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League granted €9.6 million to the clubs concerned, compared to €1.2 million in the Europa League.
Then, because an anonymous exit from one of the weakest groups on the C1 plateau would say a lot about OM's sports project.
Its attractiveness, already doubtful, would take a hit.
"The president said he could not rush headlong into the market and that he intended to wait until the end of the summer window",
revealed Jorge Sampaoli last August, more than a month after his resignation from the post of coach.
Somehow, OM had completed a transfer window without madness, with successes.
The right side and French international Jonathan Clauss is unanimous.
As well as the Congolese defender Chancel Mbemba, landed from Porto.
There is also the flagship rookie, Alexis Sanchez, 4 goals in 7 Ligue 1 games. A competition where, unlike the C1, OM investigates victories and controlled games.
There was this thunderous start against Reims (4-1), the spanking given to Nice (0-3), the successes against Clermont (1-0) and Auxerre (0-2).
And, last Friday, another triumph without flinching in Angers (0-3).
OM, undefeated in the league (7 wins, 2 draws), is not the runner-up to the Parisian leader by chance.
A passing exam against the Portuguese
Igor Tudor tears out the rare hair he has left while seeking the answer to the fateful question: why this two-faced OM?
Step too high?
Lack of experience?
All three at once?
After the defeat against Frankfurt, the Croatian coach regretted that his flock entered
"too slowly into the match, as if we were impressed by this Champions League match at home".
Monday, at a press conference, he swore he had seen
against Tottenham and Frankfurt.
"I think we can say that we were at the same level as the opposing teams, we played really well,"
he insisted, whatever the observers think.
Since all the Marseille copy is, according to Tudor, not to be thrown away, the Olympians can, even are obliged to fuel a certain ambition.
"Tomorrow (Tuesday), we will again have to not make any mistakes and succeed, I hope, in
taking points, or at least 1 point",
Since their silence against Frankfurt, the Marseillais have had three weeks to revise their lesson.
It's up to them to pass the exam against Sporting, if they don't want to be the dunces of the Champions League again.