Lille and Paris released by Chelsea and Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League (C1), Lyon and Marseille are the last two French representatives in European cups.
The two Olympiques are in the quarter-finals in two competitions: OL are in the Europa League (C3) while OM are playing in the Europa League Conference (C4), a brand new competition, hierarchically a notch below the C3.
Both have high hopes.
Rhodaniens and Phocéens have ambitions, but their motivations are different.
For the former, the Europa League is the last card to play to save the furniture, or even more, and conclude on a very positive note a very painful 2021-2022 season so far.
"This year will be the good one", assures Jean-Michel Aulas
With 10 draws and 8 defeats in the league after 30 rounds, OL have dropped out of the standings.
These jagged results leave Les Gones in a disappointing ninth place in Ligue 1. Barring a big surprise, the podium is inaccessible.
In addition, in mid-December, Lyon was disqualified from the Coupe de France after the clashes that occurred during the 32nd final against Paris FC, also excluded.
Thus, the Europa League appears to be the last way to win something this season.
It is also the ultimate possibility of qualifying for the next Champions League.
The deal is simple: you have to win this Europa League to play the C1 in 2022-2023.
In addition to its prestige, the Champions League is also lucrative, an important parameter in the Lyon business plan.
Semi-finalists in the Europa League in 2016-2017, OL imagine themselves going further this spring, and even lifting the trophy.
Jean-Michel Aulas assured him on March 31, when he presented his new recruit, the Brazilian Tetê: he had "a vision".
"This year will be the good one," revealed the club president.
But before dreaming of the final in Seville on May 18, you must already pass the quarter-finals.
With Karl Toko-Ekambi, co-top scorer in the Europa League with 6 goals, the Lyonnais travel to London to face West Ham in the first leg.
Thanks to their brilliant first round, with five wins and a draw, then their very serious round of 16 against FC Porto (1-0 win away, 1-1 draw at home), Les Gones have a status to assume against the Hammers.
"We are here to win and not to wait for a good result at home," warns coach Peter Bosz.
This West Ham-OL is "the most important match" at the moment, insists the Dutch coach.
𝖴𝗇 𝗂𝗇𝗏𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝖽𝖾 𝖽𝖾𝗋𝗇𝗂𝖾𝗋𝖾 𝗆𝗂𝗇𝗎𝗍𝖾 𝗏𝗂𝖾𝗇𝗍 𝖽'𝖺𝗋𝗋𝗂𝗏𝖾𝗋 👀 HELLO KARL
✌️🔴🔵 # WHUOL #Ul Pic.twitter.com/J4BT1VMNHD
— Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) April 6, 2022
OM has a dynamic to maintain and objectives to achieve
On the side of Marseille, the atmosphere is more serene.
The somewhat complicated phase between the beginning of February and the beginning of March, where OM conceded four defeats, has been digested.
The club has just chained five consecutive victories, in L1 and C4, scored 14 goals and settled alone in second place in the French championship.
Perfect for boosting confidence.
A possible dilemma now arises for coach Jorge Sampaoli and his men: should they focus first and foremost on Ligue 1, with the prospect of qualifying for the next Champions League, and perhaps neglect the Europa League Conference? ?
Because playing on both counts can be dangerous and demanding, especially at a time of the season when the calendar is panicking and when organizations are getting tired.
But as Jorge Sampaoli recalled in a press conference, Olympique de Marseille has a "European history".
So certainly, between the unavailability and the steady pace, the coach will "rotate" in his workforce at the Vélodrome against PAOK Salonika.
This does not mean, however, that the Olympians will approach this quarter-final first leg lightly.
OM have "goals", recalled Sampaoli, two months from the end of the season.
The use of the plural is not trivial.
The Europa League Conference is not the most prestigious competition.
But after winning the Champions League in 1993, Marseille tasted European intoxication several times on more modest levels: runners-up in the Europa League (formerly known as the UEFA Cup) in 1999, 2004 and 2018, winner of the Intertoto Cup in 2005... Each time, Marseille supporters were on fire for their favorite team.
And it doesn't take much for them to start over.
👋 @orangevelodrome 😍
🔜 #OMPAOK, #OMMHSC
Are you coming home this week?
🙂#TeamOM 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/lFO3xdc3Dc
– Olympique de Marseille (@OM_Officiel) April 6, 2022
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