Marseilles (AFP)

Dizzying sequence: with seven matches to play in 22 days, Marseille advances without a net against Lorient on Sunday (8:45 p.m.) in Ligue 1, kicking off an acrobatic streak for Marseillais watched by "mental fatigue" at one week classic against Paris SG.

With the intense and loose game advocated by Jorge Sampaoli, OM succeeded in their end of summer, suffocating a number of opponents with their incessant races.

But things got tough once the fall came, and with it the hellish pace of an Olympian team fighting on two fronts: for the podium in L1 but also to get out of the group stage of the Europa League. , with in particular a thorny double confrontation against Lazio (going to Rome next Thursday, return on November 4).

This OM, suddenly become less bleeding, remains on four official matches without a win.

A failure that the reception of Lorient must make it possible to remedy Sunday, in particular the day of the awaited tribute of the Vélodrome stadium to Bernard Tapie, emblematic ex-president of the club who died on October 3.

- "Short circuit" -

Jorge Sampaoli did not hide it, evoking an "obligation of result" which weighs in the heads and in the legs.

The Argentine coach of Marseille, Jorge Sampaoli (left), shouts from the edge of the sideline, during the L1 match between OM and RC Lens at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, September 26, 2021 Christophe SIMON AFP / Archives

"Fatigue, for me, is more linked to this need to win than to physical fatigue, it is more a mental fatigue", developed the Argentinian coach on Friday at a press conference.

"The obligation of result is negative, it can cause a short-circuit. You need joy, freshness (...) but no obligation of victory, otherwise it brings too much stress."

Stressed, the Marseillais?

Their accounting situation is not yet too worrying, with 14 points (as many as the Lorientais), one game less, and only four lengths behind Lens (18 pts), runner-up to the untouchable PSG (24 pts).

But the calendar, full-bodied, does not allow the slightest relaxation: after Lorient at the Vélodrome and Lazio in Rome, it is therefore Paris which will stand on the road to OM for a hot reunion between Sampaoli, former coach of the 'Argentina (2017-2018), and the Argentine star Lionel Messi, whom he directed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Then there will be a shock against Nice to replay behind closed doors in Troyes a match interrupted in August at the Allianz Riviera due to fan overflows.

Finally, the promoted Clermont, Lazio and Metz will test the resistance of Marseille organizations and minds.

- Payet, the "key player" back -

"There is the requirement of the calendar, with big games in addition: Lorient, Lazio, Paris Saint-Germain ... We do not really have time to rest, to prepare all that", recognizes Sampaoli.

But despite the absence of the Turkish winger Cengiz Under, suspended Sunday, some reasons for hope emerge, such as the recovery of striker Arkadiusz Milik, recovered from a long knee injury, and especially the return of the master to play Dimitri Payet, absent in Lille (2-0 defeat) because of a calf.

OM midfielder Dimitri Payet after his goal against RC Lens at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, September 26, 2021 Christophe SIMON AFP / Archives

"For me, he is the key player of this team", praised Sampaoli.

"I consider Dimitri Payet playing at a very high level. In my coaching career, he's one of the best players I've ever worked with. Personally, I would like to always have him on the pitch."

With five goals in six appearances this season, the 34-year-old Reunionese indeed appears essential to the Marseille game, which has sinned in the finish recently.

And Payet will be crucial against Merlus who have lost only once this season and who excel in counter-attack with the arrows Terem Moffi and Armand Laurienté.

"With these sparks that he brings, (Payet) is the technical leader", insists Sampaoli, "but sometimes he has a stroke, a little fatigue".

Like the entire Marseille team, which swings between the fear of heights and the intoxication of the summits that will follow one another.

© 2021 AFP

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