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Lyon and Marseille facing their European destiny

Lucas Paqueta and Dimitri Payet, the playing masters of the two Olympics. Frederic Chambert / Panoramic / AFP / SYLVAIN THOMAS

The two Olympiques begin their home stretch on the continental scene with the same objective.

In a world where football would be accessible to all, the (neutral) French football fan would have faced a difficult choice. But the most economical (and simplest) solution will be to connect to W9 to follow the quarter-final first leg of the Europa League Conference between Marseille and PAOK Salonika on Thursday (9 p.m.). At the same time, OL supporters and other Premier League haters will have to migrate to the more confidential (and expensive) branch of RMC Sports to follow West Ham-Lyon (9 p.m.).

For our French football to shine, a solution could have been to broadcast the two evening matches in multiplex and let other players offer them individually.“, proposed in a shade of regret Jean-Michel Aulas, the boss of OL, on Twitter. This would be to forget the economic reality of a strong football dependent on TV revenue. But also… European grants. And for Lyon as for Marseille, the European cups reveal the shortest path to a European trophy and the lucrative endowments that go hand in hand.

Not to mention a qualification for the group stage of the Champions League, reserving for any qualified team a minimum windfall of 15 million euros. A vital issue for two clubs with limited liquidity and an evocative European past on the French scene. And if OM keep the pace to find the C1 via the championship (2nd with 5 points ahead of Strasbourg, 4th), OL are much more dropped, stuck in an anonymous 9th place 8 points from the podium.

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Ten years without a title

Obviously, OL, more than OM, entered the money time. We understand, Lyon will need a miracle to hang the C1 by the domestic route. So why not take the royal road? Or rather continental, which reserves an invitation to the Champions League for the winner of the Europa League. To continue to hope for this purpose, OL will eventually have to get rid of Barça (opposed to Frankfurt in the quarter-finals) in the semi-finals. But before the scarecrow of the competition, OL will have to dismiss the Hammers in the quarter-finals. Formidable if not experienced in Europe, the Londoners, who will rely on a white-hot London Stadium, have all the big rocks in the European destiny of the Rhodanians.

It’s a good team, when you’re sixth in the Premier League, it’s not badagreed Peter Bosz after the draw. 6e in England, it’s already much better than 9e in Ligue 1. And the Dutch coach remains suspended thanks to his leading career in the Europa League (6 wins, 2 draws), where his quality as a specialist (finalist with Ajax in 2017 and 2e quarter after the 2020 edition with Leverkusen) allows him to obtain a reprieve from the urgency of the situation in the league. “It’s an 11e European Cup quarter, all with Peter“, replied its president on his favorite channel, in response to an article on a possible end of course for the Batavian coach.

“It’s our obligation to get a title,” says Sampaoli. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

A message of encouragement as a means of disguised pressure from the boss of OL, who repeats at will that this “year is going to be good” in Europe. The good year to win a first European trophy, after which Aulas promised that he could hand over, but also a first trophy since 2012 (Coupe de France). The same year, the rival Olympian won the Coupe de la Ligue against… OL (1-0, ap). Since then, nothing on either side. Ten lean years and the common will to find the confetti. “It’s been a long time since OM won a title, it’s our obligation to go get one“Repeated Jorge Sampaoli at a press conference on Wednesday.

The importance of the UEFA coefficient

With this in mind, the Phocaeans will have to start by avoiding the trap set by the Greeks of PAOK Salonika. Without their home striker Arkadiusz Milik (8 goals in C3 then C4 this season) but with their lucky charm Steve Mandanda in goal. The “Fenomeno” is the last survivor of the last title of the two teams combined, so he knows too well the expectations of the fans. But also the importance of the UEFA coefficient, which has fueled discussions on tricolor performances on the continental scene for years. And since the four eliminations identified in the round of 16 of the various competitions (PSG, Lille, Monaco, Rennes), OM and OL are the two survivors of a French contingent that has long been the leader in the UEFA coefficient this year.

And the continuation of their different paths could help consolidate France’s fifth place in the ranking of the country coefficient. Excellent news in view of the reform of the Champions League in 2024, where three tickets (or even one more in the play-offs) will be guaranteed (against two currently) to the fifth in the coefficient of the countries, to France therefore.

Armed with their rich European culture, the two teams hope to prolong the French European spring a little longer before meeting at the Vélodrome on 1er next May. Let’s hope then that this “Olympico” will take place between two European semi-finals.



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