“Let’s do under 8 minutes. Feeling good?” Last Sunday, while Rudi Garcia’s team was in Rennes for their 26th Ligue 1 match, Nemanja Radonjić stayed in Marseille to train. Hit by a virus, the Serb must be patient. He hasn’t been able to hit his true potenital yet. Like others, Nema’ must seize his chance when it comes. He must show he can make the starting XI… “So tired!” …and find his place in the group. Just like Duje Ćaleta-Car, who’s starting the match again. In Rennes, it’s not win nor a clean sheet for OM this time. Still, 1 point earned away from home is enough to keep on going. Rudi Garcia: “We got 10 points out of 12, after we were 11th in Ligue 1. Then, we won 3 games in a row, we came back 4th, and today, even though we had to come back to save a match in Rennes we’re back to a frustrating 5th spot. We want that 4th place and we can reach it on Sunday. So, no excuses! We must beat St. Etienne on Sunday, and then Nice. Only winnng matches will see us climb the Ligue 1 table. We showed so much progress last month.” “What’s up?” “Hi.” “Feeling better?” “Fine.” “But better?” “Good enough!” “Good, good.” “Hi” “All good?” After three wins and a draw, OM could make up the difference in March: all against historic rivals and the OM-Nice derby, the next 3 matches could lead to a return to the club’s normal level. “Ting!” “Tang!” Next rival up: St. Etienne. The Green Shirts won against OM back in mid-January: 2-1. It was just another set back at the start of the year. St. Etienne’s fans probably didn’t think that OM would be fighting for the Top 4 so soon all the way back then. Which has turned this into a promising Sunday night at the Velodrome, with OM coming into the match just 2 points behind. Rudi Garcia: “They’re good. They’re in 4th. They are in frontof us in the League They also have weaknesses, like everyone else. We’re confident. It’s up to us to face that challenge, we’ll play at home, in the Velodrome, we know our fans will push us to win that game. “Hi” “Hi, how are you?” “Alright?” “Seb!” “Yeah?” “Dim asked what you think about his performances in Fortnite!!” “Well done, Dim’! I was told to say that for your first Top 1 at Fortnite!!” “Bambi!” “Team Bambi!” “Team Bambi!” Winter is soon forgotten. In a span of just a few weeks, spring has returned. And so has the group’s confidence. Among injured players and among the team. “There.” “That’s it, the other way now.” “Good.” “No.” Even if Strootman is sometimes more confortable speaking in Italian, the Dutch international speaks most often in French… “Good game.” … although it’s always with a stong Italian accent! “Well done Kevin.” “Yes!” “Listen to me, I’ll explain.” “Don’t film, I don’t speak French, you know!” “Go ahead.” “Come on.” “Go on, film him!” “There, you have a red cup and a white cup place yourselves face to face. OK?” “Same for everyone. 10 second-warm up… 10 seconds, you move, you work together. This is where he starts to move. Then you go to the red. All oranges go to the red. Then you go to the yellow, and all oranges go to the yellow.” “Adil, go to the white. All the blues go behind Adil! “Google Translate, please!!” “If he goes red, I go red too?” “Exactly.” “Here we go!” The work atmosphere reminds everyone of last year’s good spirit… “We’re following you!” …as the players prepare for the next match. The OM veterans are now back in their top form, which raises questions in the press and offers multiple solutions to Rudi Garcia. Will they be back in the starting XI? That’s the manager’s decision. Rudi Garcia: “Those who don’t always play are also important players, even the most experienced ones. I talk to them the same way. They know very well that they can be called at any time. They have charisma and experience. But I have many smart players And they’re all determined to play. I expect all of them to work hard, to be determined, even when they play less, so they can come back stronger. That’s competition, that’s emulation. I’m actually glad to see my players fighting to make it to the match day team, and newer ar e competing just like the older players. It’s more interesting in training and in competition too.” “Right, but we never know…” “Not good. Remember what happened vs. Rennes.” “Take the ball, Romain! Yo’, come back.” To compose the final team, Rudi Garcia must deal with Jordan Amavi’s suspension. In the past, Hiroki Sakai was left back, which could be an option for the manager. Rudi Garcia: “We’ve got options. I’ve got my ideas on the best formation, and playing Sakai there could work, but it’s not the only way. We can change our tactics. I could try some players on the left to test new things. Don’t worry, we’ll be 11 as 1 on the pitch! And we’ll defend well. But that’s not our only priority. We want to also attack because St. Etienne don’t seem to have the same attacking strategy every match and the player who’ll be left back for OM will need to push forward and put pressure on St. Etienne’s right wing. That’s in our DNA: it’s not all about defending, it’s about attacking too.” “Mario.” “It’s coming!” “Well done Mario!” 1-0 Talking about attacking, fans in the Orange Vélodrome hope to see Mario Balotelli excel again. Having scored 3 goals in 4 matches… “Well done Mario!” …the striker has already exceeded expectations on and off the pitch. “Well done Mario!” Could he become the symbol of a OM revival? Steve Mandanda: “Balotelli has played a big role in our improvement. We can rely on him. He came on and he scored in his 1st match! He also has a great spirit. He quickly became part of the group, he is funny! The image that some people may have of him is 100% not true. He’s been a great addition, for sure.” Rudi Garcia: “I’m still getting to know him. and I am very surprised. He’s one of the most appreciated players in the group. He’s happy, he smiles a lot. I didn’t know that about him. He looks like he’s feeling at home here. I find him composed, articulate, and on the pitch, I was expecting him to be more emotional, I thought that he could react badly when he’s fouled. He must remain the same! Even though maybe he had too many yellow cards. We talked about that.” “Let’s go!” Steve Mandanda: “What are you filming?” “And then?” “You’re still asking me the same thing!” “Yeah.” “Great.” “Top.” Adil Rami: “We are live from Friday’s practice. Blues are crashing with the Whites!” “Come on, last one.” “Max’, come on!” “There.” “Ohhh.” “Another goal!” “Nicely done, you pulled my arm!” “Hiro!” “No.” “You can’t move!” “Yes” “Did I miss something?” Jordan Amavi: “Not really…” “I missed nothing.” “Well nothing… apart from beautiful goals!” “It’s good, they’re in a good shape.” “I didn’t mean it in a negative way. I meant everything is going well. No craziness!” “Let’s be clear!” “Yeah, that’s it.” “It can be confusing!…” “Yes!” “Ohhhhh!” This lively group still has a lot to prove on the pitch. Behind the good morale and the smiles, everybody wants to show they’re worthy of wearing the OM jersey. Each one dreams of scoring in front of 55,000 Marseille fans. The arrival of new talents will help the club back on track on its objectives. Sunday night, every single one must seize his chances.