September 23, 2021
After years of underachievement in Ligue 1, it looks like Marseille have finally found the right formula
Jorge Sampaoli is building something special at Marseille
By Adam White for Get French Football News
“Nietzsche thought while walking too,” said Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli to explain why he constantly paces up and down the touchline. “I analyse things better while on the move.” Following Sampaoli’s arrival in March, Marseille lacked the ferocity and intensity of their coach. Now, however, they are playing with intensity and dynamism, embodying their manager’s snarling, prowling touchline presence. Club and coach are a perfect match and, after years of underachieving, Marseille may have finally found the right formula.
Known as a Marcelo Biesla “disciple”, even if he quietly rejects the comparison, Sampaoli has based his success this season on a gung-ho outlook. It is working, with four wins and two draws from Marseille’s first six games. Their asymmetrical setup falls somewhere between Bielsa’s preferred 3-3-1-3 and Hungary’s 2-3-3-2 formation from the 1950s, with Dimitri Payet playing Nándor Hidegktui’s withdrawn striker role, albeit with a holding midfielder dropping in at right-back when needed. This seemingly unwieldy team has worked perfectly so far this season. All three centre-backs are technical ball-players and the midfield is a fluid diamond full of creativity, while wing-backs maraud down the flanks.
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