A challenging month aheadtue 19 feb at 16:27
The times are changing
Following defeat in Reims in early February, Rudi Garcia and his group had to regroup before a gauntlet of matches on the slate throughout the spring. Immediately following the internal review, Les Olympiens stacked victories over Bordeaux, Dijon and Amiens, and now OM is the best team over the last 5 Ligue 1 matches. By recording three consecutive wins, the Phoenicians have reaffirmed their place.
The arrival of Mario Balotelli has made a quick impact, but that's not the only change for the positive. Even if the January window reinforcement adds a new dynamic, it's the whole team personality that has improved. With Adil Rami injured, Luiz Gustavo suffering a short illness, and the return of Rolando - other players have stepped up and filled in the gaps with success. The young centre back connection between Boubacar Kamara and Duje Caleta Car has launched the club to consecutive wins. Jordan Amavi, Lucas Ocampos, Hiroki Sakai and Florian Thauvin have formed fluid transition corridors and before finishing attacks to Balotelli.
The End of Winter
The 2018-2019 winter saw OM slump through a two-month period without victory (from 25 November to 20 January). With the aim of better results Marseille again begins another difficult period on Sunday, with a trip to Rennes before hosting Saint-Etienne and Nice and going to Paris on 17 March. It's a stretch complete with European hopefuls.
The pressure rises this weekend and won't go down until the end of March. The last French club left to compete in the Europa League - Stade Rennais - visits Sevilla on Thursday for its Round of 32 return leg. Following a 3-3 draw at home, the Bretons have jumpstarted since seeing a new manager brought in. Julien Stephan has led the club to a series of seven consecutive victories between December and January. In the league, Rennes (11th, 36 pts) were rising high in February before losing to Reims (2-0) on Sunday.
Eliminated from Europe, OM (4th, 40 pts) will play just one meeting per week. After Rennes, it will be Saint-Étienne (5th, 40 pts) at home and then Nice (8th, 37 pts). Saint-Étienne have nothing but ambition while remaining within the first five places in the table and Nice is capable of anything - as they displayed by beating Lyon and overcoming Lille in November.
Yes, the OM team is flying higher and collecting points to climb the rankings. But Les Olympiens will have to raise the level a notch more to survive March.