OM - Salzburg | The time is now26 apr 2018
Olympique de Marseille participate in a first European semi-final for 14 years tonight against Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg in a highly anticipated encounter.
Just two weeks on from a memorable and electric night against RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals, the season can take another high turn as OM play for a place in the UEFA Europa League final in front of a record crowd at Orange Vélodrome (kick-off 21:05 CET).
For many in Rudi Garcia’s squad, this is the first time that they will experience potential European silverware, and the onus is on the team to produce a result in front of a highly charged crowd at home to put themselves in the best possible position ahead of the return in Salzburg next week, and ultimately a ticket to the continental showpiece in Lyon on May 16 against Arsenal FC or Atletico Madrid.
Salzburg however, are no pushovers themselves. OM have already encountered Marco Rose’s high-flyers this season in the group stage. An insipid 1-0 defeat was followed by an uninspiring 0-0 draw in Marseille, though the result was enough to qualify both teams.
This time, it’s different however. Gone are the motions of the group stage. With a final in Europe - (potentially OM’s 5th, the most of any French club) - just 180 minutes away, you can be sure that none of the 22 players will be giving anything less than 100%.
Rudi Garcia echoed these sentiments yesterday in the pre-match press conference, declaring: “We need to show them that the OM in April is different to the OM they saw in winter. It’s up to us to be better than them”.
Still, the coach enthuses about the possibility of playing a European final at the home of rivals Lyon - labeling it as a “source of motivation” for his players.
OM hold a strong advantage in the Europa League at home, winning all but one game this season - that coming against….Salzburg. The Austrian champions may be dark horses, but having eliminated Borussia Dortmund and Lazio in spectacular fashion, nothing is set in stone.
It is up to the players to deliver on Thursday night to continue the story.