Friday, February 13, 2015

Marseille stumble at home as away day foibles catch up

It may seem like the inevitable Marcelo Bielsa stumble is now in full effect. In the early part of the season Marseille were playing some of the best football seen at the Stade Velodrome in years. Bielsa's high octane pressing game was baring excellent results as L'OM stormed to the top of the Ligue 1 table. After 10 rounds, Marseille were already seven points clear of PSG at the top of the table.

Then Bielsa's men visited Lyon on the 26th of October and lost for the first time since the second weekend of the season. Since then Marseille haven't won a single game on the road. It's now two points in the last seven away matches for L'OM. The only solace for the club was that PSG were having an inconsistent season as well, so Marseille remained top of the table for another rounds by virtue of their perfect home record. You can get by with a bad run away from home if your rival is also struggling, but if a third contender emerges then it's hard to get away with inconsistency.

Lyon's sudden emergence and renaissance resulted in the former champions rising up the table and taking top spot from Marseille. As L'OM continue to struggle away from home, it was only a matter of time before a blip occurred at the Velodrome. It came earlier today, when Marseille conceded a last minute equalizer against Reims. The problem with a bad away run means the pressure increases a notch every time you play at home, and if the three points are not secure early enough you're likely concede a late goal as the nerves wrack up towards the end of the match.

It's not hard to see why Marseille have gone off the boil since late October. As many players from other Bielsa teams will testify, it's no good playing beautiful football if the ball doesn't find the back of the net. Droit Au But is the motto of the club - Straight to Goal, but Marseille have been anything but that on the pitch. Chances have been wasted despite complete dominance. It's hard to see Marseille reversing the trend, unless they find their finishing boots soon. Bielsa has to get his players behind Andre-Peirre Gignac to start scoring, or an improving PSG and a Lyon team with the firepower of Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fakir might just make Ligue Un a two-horse race with Marseille cut adrift.