Olympique Marseille - Strasbourg (2-0): Patience pays offtue 16 jan at 20:55
As against Rennes, just three days ago, Olympique Marseilles sought to take control of the game and smother their opponents, as with Marseilles' first opportunity, taken by Ocampos two minutes into the game. With a perfect 4-1-4-1 organisation, Thierry Laurey's men played on their physical and athletic prowess as well as their technical skills to prevent Olympique from playing as they wished. Having made an impressive arrival at Marseilles, the team from Alsace was successful in the first half. Proof of this comes from their offensive statistics: no shots on goal and not even an off-side. They approached Mandanda's goal with a few sporadic kicks that were stopped without ever posing a series threat.
Olympique, interrupted in their progress down the field towards their opponents' net, turned to some individual efforts to maintain the pace of play. Following a free kick, a header from Rami passed over the crossbar. As did Ocampos' header in injury time following the first half. After Thauvin's raid down the left wing, his cross found the Argentine player - but he failed to find the back of the net.
Would Racing's plans continue to work for the 45 minutes of the second half? The Olympians were determined to hit back but time was against them. As a result, the visitors began to drop their guard. They did, however, manage the match's first shot on goal during the 50th minute, following a counter-attack that concluded when Da Costa's header was blocked by Mandanda. Strasbourg's compact style of play frustrated the southern side again and again. Payet took the field, replacing Ocampos, to try to tilt the game in their favour. However, OM's lack of success was evident, as in the set-piece and recovery initiated by Thauvin and finished by Sarr while his cross passed untouched through a forest of legs.
Sanson left the fray following a knee injury following a one-on-one. Nije took his place and Marseilles managed a double shot on goal that ended with an almost miraculous save by the Strasbourg keeper. Marseille's troubles once again became clear when a penalty was awarded following Da Costa's foul on Payet, which was taken by Germain. Oukidja dived to the correct side and made the save. Thauvin and his team began an attack, but the Alsace side put their heart and soul into the defence.
As the clock ticked into the 79th minute, Thauvin went down the right wing. He crossed to Germain, whose shot was blocked. The ball rebounded towards Njie whose powerful kick opened the scoring. Germain was on the edge of taking his team to safety following Zambo Anguissa's impressive dribbling, but Oukidja was still in position. He was powerless when faced with Payet one-on-one. The French international, following an effective pass by Njie, slipped past the opposing keeper with a dummy before placing the ball in the back of the net.
Just like last week, Olympique, who outplayed their opponents, applied pressure to win. Before the other teams have played in the season's 21st day of play, Olympique are second with a two-point advantage over Monaco and Lyon. Let's hope that this has the same effect as it did on the last match day.