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A look at Europe | Jesse Marsch arrives in the Premier League

Throughout the season, The Press offers a weekly round-up of the biggest moments on the European soccer scene

Published on 1er march

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

The story

Almost 10 years to the day after his first game at the helm of the Montreal Impact, Jesse Marsch finds himself head coach of a Premier League team.

The American was appointed Monday as the new technician for Leeds United, who had fired his beloved Marcelo Bielsa the day before. This is Marsch’s first job since his aborted Bundesliga run with RB Leipzig. He was fired last December after only five months in the job.

The challenge is daunting in Leeds. Sportingly, he must allow the club to stay afloat in the Premier League. With its 23 units, the team is only 2 small points from the first relegation zone (Burnley, 21 points). He inherits a club defeated five times in their last six games and having allowed 21 goals in the interval.

Argentinian Bielsa had propelled the club to a historic return to the Premier League in 2020. After their first year at the top of the English pyramid, Leeds had reached a very enviable ninth position.

When we say that Marcelo Bielsa was adored in this city in the north of England, we weigh our words. In 2020, the year the team won the Second Division title and were promoted, a street in Leeds was renamed after them. There are graffiti with his image all over town. His pensive posture near the pitch, in a crouched position, will remain an indelible image of his four years at this historic club.


Marcelo Bielsa

His style of play, based on high and continuous pressure as well as a quick transition to attack, was as exciting as possible. The other side of the coin was the gaping opening that this pressure at the front created at the rear. Here are the recent setbacks that led to his dismissal: 4-0 against Tottenham, 6-0 against Liverpool, 4-2 against Manchester United, 3-0 against Everton. It must also be said that three important players in his system – defender Liam Cooper, midfielder Kalvin Phillips and striker Patrick Bamford – have been injured for several weeks.

Jesse Marsch had great success with RB Salzburg, Austria, before joining Leipzig. He also opts for modern soccer based on strong pressure, but keeps a certain defensive pragmatism. Will that be enough to close the gaps? The imminent returns of the wounded will certainly help his cause.

The story, bis

After a weak response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – an Olympic-style solution that allowed Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag – FIFA corrected the situation on Monday.

Russia has been excluded from the FIFA World Cup, as well as from UEFA’s European competitions. The Russians will therefore not be able to play their play-off against Poland scheduled for the end of March, the women’s selection is excluded from Euro 2022 and Spartak Moscow must forfeit against RB Leipzig in the knockout stages of the Europa League .

It was the only possible decision. International matches like these involve the travel of players, staff, journalists and supporters of the teams involved. Under the circumstances, it was impossible.

Nevertheless, from all this turmoil emerged a particularly touching moment on Sunday. Benfica de Lisboa faced Vitória de Guimarães in the Portuguese championship. At the 62e minute, the Ukrainian player of Benfica Roman Yaremchuk was preparing to enter the lawn of the Estádio da Luz, in the capital. Jan Vertonghen presented him with the captain’s armband.

Then, he was greeted by warm applause from the crowd, paired with a well-felt standing ovation. The camera did not fail to capture the Ukrainian flags in the stands… and the possible strained and emotional face of Yaremchuk on the ground.

Impossible to stay frozen.

The game

Rarely will you have seen such an entertaining 0-0 match. The Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday was brilliant from start to finish. And what an ending it was.

Difficult to make a quick summary of this match, won after an absolutely crazy penalty shootout. So let’s sum up the game by looking at one man: Édouard Mendy, Chelsea goalkeeper.


Edouard Mendy

Mendy is Senegalese. Just like his opponent, the excellent Sadio Mané. The two won the African Cup of Nations (CAN) together last January with their selection. After a penalty shootout.

One of the most defining moments in this game came in the 30e minute. Mendy had just made a superb save against Naby Keïta, throwing himself full length to his right. Mané threw himself on the return to the surface like a lion chasing its prey. Defying gravity, Mendy put his hand on his compatriot’s shot in extremis. Senegalese against Senegalese, sublime against sublime.

After marvelous missed chances, controversial VAR decisions and 30 minutes of extra time, direction penalties. Mendy had won the AFCON this way. His experience should serve him… But no. Thomas Tuchel, his coach, takes him out in favor of substitute goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Liverpool will make 11 (!) shots against Kepa. Chelsea, his first 10. When it came time for the keeper to take his own penalty shot, he missed. Completely. His balloon should be orbiting Saturn right now. Entering only for the shootout, Kepa therefore made no saves and even missed the only shot of his own. In the realm of regrettable decisions, this one will go down in history.

The moment

In the area of ​​good news, we should note the almost unexpected return to the game of Christian Eriksen. The images of the Dane’s collapse during Euro 2020 on June 12 moved the soccer world.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s match against Finland in the group stage. After almost 10 minutes lying on the pitch with rescue teams and stunned players, he was evacuated to a hospital.

We never thought we would see him again on a football field.


Christian Eriksen

But Christian Eriksen has regained form. He now wears a heart defibrillator.

Committed until this winter with Inter Milan, he was transferred to Brentford, in the Premier League, in January. He had played a friendly match on February 15.

But Sunday was his real return to competition. And he was ardently applauded by his new supporters when he entered the field. The Dane will have finally played 38 minutes.

Who knows, with Denmark already qualified, could we see him at the next World Cup in November?


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