Salzburg - OM | 90 minutes from a European final03 may 2018
Olympique de Marseille are 90 minutes away from a fifth European final in the club's long and storied history but will first have to contend with Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg.
The good thing is that OM have a two goal cushion in tonight's fixture (kick-off 21:05) at Red Bull Arena. Goals from Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie last Thursday put us in a strong position to make the Europa League final on May 16 against either Atletico Madrid or Arsenal FC who face off in tonight's other match.
But Salzburg certainly are no pushovers as last week's fierce tie showed. The Austrian opponents, coached by Marco Rose were perhaps unlucky not to get a goal amdist several chances at the Orange Vélodrome. Furthermore, they have established a strong comeback history, having ousted Lazio 4-1 just two weeks ago, having been down 5-2 on aggregate just over three quarters into the tie.
Tonight's opponents have also gone unbeaten in 38 home games. Not Dortmund, Lazio, Real Sociedad, Vitoria, Konyaspor and even OM have won at Salzburg this season. In fact, only Lazio managed to beat Alex Walke in the Salzburg goal during this time. Indeed, the hosts are yet to be defeated at home since a league fixture against Admira in November 2016.
Despite the 2-goal advantage, it remains a tall order for OM who will have to come up against a capacity crowd of 30,000 inside the stadium this evening. However, they are buoyed by an outpouring support of OM fans in Marseille and around the world as the club gear to seal its ticket to yet another continental showpiece.
Rudi Garcia will have to do without the injured Hiroki Sakai and Kostas Mitroglou for the fixture. But the return of Steve Mandanda and a chance up front for Valere Germain to follow his father's footsteps to fire OM to the final means OM have the tools to get the job done tonight.
There remains everything to play for as we enter the first game of the final month of a long and arduous season for OM. But there is still everything to win. Allez OM!