Football. The final of the Europa League in the sights of Olympique de Marseille

In a difficult season, Marseille have experienced their only joys during a European journey that will reach its first peak on Thursday at the Vélodrome in the Europa League semi-final first leg against Atalanta Bergamo, an encounter that reminds how much Europe is in OM’s DNA.

On Sunday, after the success that fell from the sky against Lens (2-1), Samuel Gigot gathered his teammates in a circle. “We’re going to the finals guys! We’ll give it our all until the end! We are still alive! », declared the captain of Marseille, who will be suspended on Thursday.

Gigot’s tirade confirmed that Atalanta were indeed on the minds of the Marseillais from Sunday and no doubt a bit earlier. His sentence also reminds us that if OM, then only 7E Ligue 1, is “still alive”, probably thanks to the Europa League.

Already in September, in the middle of a management crisis, without a coach and with management that “took a step back”, OM brought home a commendable 3:3 from a trip against Ajax in Amsterdam.

The Marseillais also knocked out Shakhtar Donetsk, Villarreal and their former coach Marcelino, then Benfica on penalties on their way to the semi-finals, on a night when the Vélodrome was resounding.

“It’s a whole city that will play in the semi-finals of the European Cup”

“Europe inspired us. We had a feeling of fresh air, it did us a lot of good,” confirmed Jonathan Clauss at a press conference on Wednesday. “The results and performances gave us confidence when we were struggling. And now we get to this semi-final, which will allow us to end this season in the best possible way,” added the OM right-back.

Jean-Louis Gasset, who came on the bench for Marseille one night in the European Cup against Donetsk (3-1), also confirmed the special connection that exists between the continental competitions and OM, and a little more. “I have the impression that it is not just a club. The entire city will play the semifinals of the European Cup. We can’t take a step without someone talking to us about it. That’s how I feel. We are proud of our progress and it does not only concern the club, but the whole city,” added the Marseille coach.

On the fans’ side, we also recognize that a good run in C3 and the prospect of a visit to Dublin on May 20 has helped to maintain some form of social harmony that may have been threatened by the anguish of an unsuccessful season in the Championship.

The final four of the European Cup was reached for the third time in the last seven years

But OM and their public have finally made it to this Europa League and are about to experience their third European semi-final in seven years against Atalanta. In 2018, Rudi Garcia’s team continued their journey to the final, where they were stopped by Atlético de Madrid. In 2022, on the other hand, with Jorge Sampaoli, the adventure ended in the semi-final against Feyenoord Rotterdam.

Against Atalanta, therefore, OM hopes to win a new C3 final, which would be the fourth after all lost in 1999, 2004 and 2018.

“It is something very important and we are happy to play this semi-final against a very strong team. But we must not be satisfied with this happiness,” warned Marseille president Pablo Longoria on Sunday, who will return to the club where he was a very young recruit in early 2010. “The goal is not the semifinals of the finals and the possibility of winning the title,” he reminded above all.

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