Mathieu Valbuena, one of the cornerstones of the double achieved by Olympiakos last season.
Giannis Papanikos / AP / SIPA
Mathieu Valbuena receives with Olympiakos his former club Olympique de Marseille on Wednesday at 9 p.m. for OM's return to the Champions League.
The midfielder is one of the cornerstones of his squad, which achieved the league cup double last season.
According to Martial Debeaux, follower of Olympiakos, Mathieu Valbuena "has never been more important in a team" than in the Greek club.
An "idyllic" marriage.
Former Olympique de Marseille midfielder Mathieu Valbuena receives his former club Wednesday (9 p.m.) for the first day of the Champions League, with Olympiakos.
After leaving OM in 2014 for Dynamo Moscow and then returning to France with OL, two seasons in Turkey at Fenerbahce, Mathieu Valbuena “has never been so happy” with Olympiakos, believes Martial Debeaux , host of the Olympiakos France page on Twitter.
"I am living a second youth at Olympiakos", even considers Mathieu Valbuena in the columns of the Team.
Landed in Greece last season at the age of 35, it was not easy for the supporters.
"He came from Turkey where he was not the holder, people were asking a lot of questions because of his big salary, and his age", remembers Martiel Debeaux.
"Olympiakos is a carbon copy of OM"
But he didn't need a lot of games to prove himself, thanks to the fighting spirit he has shown throughout his career.
“He was good right away.
Last season, he made three or four assists during the preliminary rounds and qualified his team for the pools.
From there, his transfer is already profitable.
But he continues in his line all season with more than 20 assists.
It really struck the supporters, no one doubted his level, but no one imagined such incredible consistency at his age, ”Martial Debeaux analyzes.
"I did not expect such a rapid adaptation," Valbuena admits to AFP.
The similarities between the Greek club and Marseille have surely played in this rapid integration.
“Olympiakos is the carbon copy of OM in everything: the club, the city, the passion, the pressure.
Before arriving at our training center, there is a small lane where we do not pass two cars like the Martine crossing in front of La Commanderie, ”he recalls precisely.
Valbuena to @lequipe: "They might take me for a madman, for a sadomasochistic, but Marseille will always remain in my heart even if my last at the Vélodrome was very hard with this really stormy reception. But OM is part of my life. "
- OManiaque (@OManiaque) October 17, 2020
“They quickly extended his contract, he has a very good standard of living in Greece and Christian Karembeu is part of the management.
There is a real Francophonie within the club and it has never been so important in a team, ”decrypts Martial Debeaux.
Ideal conditions that allowed Mathieu Valbuena to guide his club to a league-cup double and a knockout round in the Champions League last season.
"Never safe from too much season"
Covid-19 requires, this start of the season is a little different.
“Olympiakos didn't have as many preliminary rounds as usual, which allowed them to be ready very early in the season.
They played the Greek Cup final at the beginning of September [1-0 victory against AEK Athens], with last year's squad, so they prepared less well, it's a bit slower.
But Valbuena is fairly preserved in the league because the squad is large, so he can make the difference in one or two Champions League matches with his passing quality.
And he is surrounded by Youssef El Arabi (treble this weekend) and Rafinha, who also had the best season of their career, ”adds Martial Debeaux.
Olympiakos beat Atromitos 4-0 last Saturday and still have a good start to the season, with three wins and a draw, three points behind leaders Aris Salonika, who has one more game.
Mathieu Valbuena has still not opened his goal counter, nor an assist, in the league.
"He does not have too many worries, physical glitches, but at that age you are never safe from too many seasons," warns Martiel Debeaux.
But it was he who opened the scoring against Omonia Nicosia in all preliminary, to offer qualification in the Champions League to Olympiakos.
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