PREVIEW | OM aim to close out Athletic Bilbao

thu 15 mar at 03:05
Photos ©
With a qualification into the Europa League quarter-finals in sight, OM visits Athletic Bilbao for the second leg with a 3-1 aggregate lead.

After a 3-1 victory at the Orange Vélodrome, Olympique Marseille travel this week to Spain to meet Athletic Bilbao with the Europa League quarter-finals on the line. The match will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. CET (6 p.m. BST / 2 p.m. ET) at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao.

In the first leg, the French side dominated, with Lucas Ocampos' brace leading the way. Dimitri Payet put his name on the scoresheet, responding to Aritz Aduriz’s controversial penalty before half-time. Now, OM are looking for revenge, after being eliminated by the Spaniards in 2016 in the round of 32 of the Europa League (2-1 on aggregate).

Olympique de Marseille aim to return to the quarterfinals of a European competition for the first time since 2012, when they last played in the UEFA Champions League - reaching the quarter-finals only to fall to Bayern Munich, 4-0 on aggregate. 

In its last 12 Europa League matches, Marseille hasn't conceded more than one goal per match, keeping five clean sheets.

An in-form Ocampos is leathal for OM in the Europa League, with three goals since the qualifying rounds, including the pair against Bilbao. Payet has also been productive during the campaign, participating in 13 goals across 16 European League games (4 goals, 9 assists). 

The return of Florian Thauvin will be a welcome remedy for Les Olympiens. The forward has recovered from injury suffered in the first leg. The 26-year-old striker is the club’s top goal scorer this season, with 16 goals and 10 assists in Ligue 1.

Olympique de Marseille - European champion in 1993 and nine-time French champions -and Athletic Bilbao - 8-time Spanish champions - are two of the most stoired teams in Europe in search of more glory. They are also linked by famous names: 

  • Bixente Lizarazu, the first Frenchman to ever play for Athletic, also played for OM in 2004-2005.
  • Didier Deschamps, another French international player, World Cup winner with France in 1998, of Basque origin, made history as a player and coach in Marseille (he was part of the UEFA Champions League winners in 1993), and
  • Andoni Zubizarreta, the Basques' historic goalkeeper and current Sporting Director of Olympique de Marseille.

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