PLAYER RATINGS | Reims 1-0 Marseille: Phocéens’ European hopes go up in smoke – Get French Football News

The situation was simple for Olympique de Marseille. A victory away at a managerless Stade de Reims would be enough to keep their future within their own hands as they would enter the final weekend in sixth place, good enough for the Europa Conference League. Anything else and they would likely be out of the hunt for Europe with only one game remaining. 

Five minutes into the game and the ball rippling into the back of their net was not a promising sign for Jean-Louis Gasset’s Olympians. They were fortunate that Marshall Munetsi’s opener would be ruled out by VAR, with the midfielder caught offside. However, the warning signs were stamping and shrieking.

Marseille would threaten in what turned out to be an exceptionally open half. Leonardo Balerdi came close with a headed effort of a Jordan Veretout freekick, while Ismaïla Sarr continued a season to forget when he went one-on-one with Yehvann Diouf but his scooped shot deflected off the keeper and went high above the crossbar. 

Reims looked to focus their play down Junya Ito’s wing. The Japanese international was exceptional in transition as he took advantage of Quentin Merlin’s high positioning and Bamo Meïté’s rusty return from injury. Ito was key in breaking the deadlock as he strode down the wing and fired a cross into the box, Chancel Mbemba spotted the run of Munetsi but managed to plant the ball into his own goal as he tried to ward off the danger. 

Marseille would end the half aggrieved that Reims still had 11 players on the pitch. Oumar Diakité should have been sent off after he looked to add to his early yellow card with a lazy challenge on Jordan Veretout, but to his relief and the away side’s dismay, the referee only warned him that he was on thin ice. 

The second half saw both clubs make changes. Jean-Louis Gasset took of Meïté for Luis Henrique, while Diakité had taken his last risk for Reims as Reda Khadra was brought on. This signalled a formation change for Marseille as they swapped from a back three into a four, a choice that saw very little change as Reims still cut through them at will. 

Desperation was beginning to take hold as Faris Moumbagna came on for Pape Gueye shifting Marseille into a 4-2-4 shape. Henrique saw more of the ball but for a player who has only scored once in his time with the club this rarely felt threatening, and when he finally went face-to-face with the keeper his shot was left wanting. 

Merlin was swapped for Iliman Ndiaye with almost ten minutes left to play in the game. The message was clear. Marseille needed a victory beyond all else, but despite the changes, there was no impact on the status quo. Marseille’s attacks fell to pieces as soon as the ball crossed into the penalty box. Reims flooded the area with defenders and there wasn’t the space or nouse to find their way through. 

Another loss would continue Marseille’s miserable record of two victories away from home. Les Phocéens will need RC Lens and Olympique Lyonnais to both lose on the final day if they are to have any chance of qualifying for Europe next season. For Reims, a first victory since mid-March, and one that was well-deserved.

Marseille Player Ratings

Pau López, 5

Leonardo Balerdi, 5 

Bamo Meïté, 3 – A difficult return for the centre-back. He looked like a player who had missed a considerable chunk of playing time. His positioning was strange and not helped by an in-possession shape that often left him exposed on the counter.

Chancel Mbemba, 4

Quentin Merlin, 4

Jordan Veretout, 6 – One of the few players for Marseille that had a good game. The midfielder looked to knit together plays from an advanced role, but was let down by the finishing from his teammates. 

Geoffrey Kondogbia, 5

Pape Gueye, 4

Jonathan Clauss, 4

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 4 – Absent and frustrated. He became increasingly annoyed by his teammate’s lack of service. The forward simply didn’t have enough opportunities to ever look as if he would have a good game. 

Ismaïla Sarr, 3

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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