After a solid 1-1 draw in the first leg in Turkey, OM attack the return match against Eskisehirspor ths Thursday at Fos-sur-Mer with the aim of qualifying and making a winning start to the season...
The domestic season may not have even started yet, but OM already have a big challenge for this month of August: After the draw in the first leg in Turkey, OM now have to finish the job against Eskisehirspor on Thursday in the Europa League third preliminary qualifying round. A win will send OM into the UEL play-offs, but will not offer a first home match at the Stade Vélodrome for the club's adoring and loyal fans.
The decision was taken months ago, due to important renovations currently underway at the Vél' and will be played at the Stade Parsemain in Fos-sur-Mer, some 50 kms away. It's a change of address and Elie Baup isn't sure what the 'impact' might be on the players given that 'they sometimes feel at home in their own stadium.' While the supporters will still be there, the biggest concern at present are the mosquitoes that have infested the area.
On a sporting level, OM have already done half the job. "The away goal is a big advantage, but the aim for us is to win the match," added the coach. "We're at half-time in the tie and at the moment it's a tie and we need to win this second half at home." Scoring early will be a great start for OM, and there's no hint of taking the match lightly. The Europa League future is on the line, but it's also the best chance to prepare for Sunday's trip to Reims in the Ligue 1 opener.
Set piece danger
"This match will serve to progress the way we play and also build confidence if we qualify. This can launch our season and be a foundation from which we can build and progress," continued the OM boss. Against a team that "deserves it's place in the competition and is anything but simply making up the numbers," the solid OM performance in the opening match should "improve in terms of speed of transition into attack as well as in front of goal."
The main danger revealed in the first game was the aerial strength of Ersun Yanal's side, especially dangerous from set pieces. Dédé's free-kick headed home by Nuhiu in the first leg is the perfect example. "We will have to avoid giving away silly free-kicks 25 or 30 metres out from our goal because set pieces are their strong point," warned Baup.
Les Olympiens can't start asking questions or calculating the result in Fos-sur-Mer on Thursday. A qualification for the next round in Europe, would indeed, be a great way to start the new season...