Main attacking threats:– Dimitri Payet (33, MF); Florian Thauvin (28, MF); Valerie Germain (30, FW); Arkadiusz Milik (26, FW); Dario Benedetto (30, FW); Luis Henrique (19, FW)
Goals scored:– 43 goals in total , goal scored by forwards : Payet (8); Thauvin (8); Germain (3); Milik (4); Benedetto (5); Luis Henrique (0)
Combined market value: 77million € (transfermarkt)
Fatigue off the pitch at Olympique de Marseille is as bad as their situation on the pitch. It has long been evident that OM's financial mismanagement could have resulted in poor performance of late, with changes of coaches and presidents suggesting the season has been largely compromised.
Marseille have scored 43 goals and conceded 39 in 32 games this season, the third lowest in the first half of the Ligue 1 table (only Nice and Rennais have done worse). They are in 6th place, with 16 points less from the Champions League area, 5 from the Europa League and 3 from the Conference League (a more realistic goal given that Marseille are well below their capacities (having come second last season), whether in midfield, defending or attacking.But a big contributing factor was the lack of goals early, mainly due to the lack of goals produced by the main forwards and the creativity of the midfield.
2019/20 season :
Last season, Marseille finished runners-up after the league was suspended midway due to the coronavirus crisis. Their main offensive push was Argentine forward Dario Benedetto, who registered 11 goals and attacking midfielder Dmitri Payet, who was the club’s topscorer with 12 goals. They were the only two with double figures.
The club’s attacking midfielder was more impactful in front of goal than the club’s main striker.
In the 2018/19 season, OM’s main forwards were Dario Benedetto, Valerie Germain, Florian Chabrolle and Isaac Lihadji. Chabrolle appeared only twice, whereas Lihadji made no appearance for the first team. Benedetto and Germain scored a combined 13 goals in 60 cumulative caps, and Germain scored only 2 goals in 30 appearances, two more appearances than Benedetto.
2020/21 season :
One of the main reasons why Marseille's scorers and forwards have failed and go for consecutive matches without scoring a single goal is due to the lack of consistent playing time and incompatible lineups that change the way players are positioned, with almost every game played.
Although Andre Vilas Boas (until he was the coach of the team prior to Sampaoli's arrival) used Payet and Thauvin regularly throughout the season, they were used inconsistently with their traditional playing positions. Both played as main forwards although the position that suits them best is right behind the forwards as midfielders capable of dribbling, creating space and sending the ball forward with precise passes.
Arkadiusz Milik, who arrived in the winter transfer window on loan from Napoli after being ignored all season by Gennaro Gattuso, has had a decent impact with 4 goals already scored. Milik plays like a classic number 9 but his versatile nature allows him to operate on these wings and also as a second striker capable of supporting the game by providing assists. His physical strength adds to his aerial abilities and his sense of positioning makes him a nuisance to defenders.
Milik is often compared to fellow Polish national team and Bayern forward Lewandowski, mainly due to their similar physique and sense of play forward as number nine. His technique on the ball and his eye for scoring with his powerful shots make him the kind of striker Marseille need.
In the team, Milik, Benedetto, Germain and Luis Henrique are the only four who qualify as full-fledged strikers. Although Henrique is effectively a winger, in recent years he has transformed his game to fit as a striker. Number 11 is an elegant dribbler who likes to face defenders head-on, but he has the potential to contribute as a scorer. His presence could prove vital as a super replacement for Marseille, as he has only started once this season. Valerie Germain has been largely ineffective as a striker, scoring 3 goals in 32 appearances. With the arrival of Milik(4 goals), Germain may see less of game time, although he has scored 3 goals (fourth highest) behind Florian Thauvin (8), Dimitri Payet (8) and Dario Benedetto (5).
These statistics give clarity to the inefficiency of Marseille's strikers. Florian Thauvin is a traditional attacking winger as is Dimitri Payet. Thauvin has contributed to 17 goals all season, scoring 9 and assisting 8 this season in 38 appearances - being Marseille's most effective player upfront.
If Milik and Benedetto combine as two No.9s in a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin as attacking midfielders/wingers, Les Olympiens may start firing the goals they need to lift them up at least to the Champions League spot. Luis Henrique has the potential to make a difference, but he still needs to develop into a starter. Whereas, Valerie Germain has been inconsistent and cannot be counted in the long run. For now, Milik, Benedetto, Thauvin and Payet are the ones capable of overcoming Marseille’s attacking woes. Lack of ideas and motivation in an attacking sense has pushed Marseille to the brink of breakdown.
However, a new creative formation (if not 4-4-2), such as 4-2-2-2 or 4-3-1-2 can help the club. As of now, Thauvin is Marseille’s greatest attacking asset. His presence on the right wing as an inverted winger can prove to be lethal when combined with Milik’s left-footed strike force. On the other hand, Payet presence on the left wing could be as effective when combined with Benedetto’s goal scoring abilities. If Thauvin and Payet do what they do best in their traditional role as out-and-out wingers right behind the main men, opportunities will arise soon enough for Marseille to make a difference in the final third.
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Written by: @akhil_fisher