Like Marseille this season, Newcastle and Atalanta Bergamo had lost their first three Champions League matches. However, these two teams managed the feat of reaching the round of 16 respectively in 2002 and last season. What to give a little hope to OM.
After his zero score during the first leg of the Champions League, Olympique de Marseille will attempt the feat of reaching the round of 16. To achieve this almost impossible mission, the men of André Villas-Boas can rely on the incredible performances of Newcastle in 2002 and Atalanta Bergamo in 2019. Back on these two beautiful stories.
Newcastle 2002: a miraculous qualification in stoppage time
At the time of the 2002-2003 C1, there were still two group stages before reaching the quarter-finals. Newcastle got off to a bad start in their first round. The English club, led by their captain Alan Shearer, lost in their first three meetings against Dynamo Kiev (2-0), Feyenoord Rotterdam (0-1) and Juventus Turin (2-0). Bobby Robson’s team then occupies the last place in the group without a single point and no longer has the right to make mistakes. Then the hour of revolt struck. Andy Griffin offers an unexpected victory against Juve (future finalist) in Saint James’ Park (1-0). The dream continues with a second home success against Dynamo Kiev (2-1). Led back from the locker room (0-1, 47e), Newcastle equalized thanks to Gary Speed (58e) then Alan Shearer scores the victorious goal from the penalty spot (69e). Finally, the Magpies manage to achieve the improbable by winning at Feyenoord Rotterdam after a crazy match (2-3). They thought they had done the hardest after Craig Bellamy’s two goals (45e+1) and Hugo Viana (49e) but the Dutch returned to 2-2 with two goals in six minutes (65e and 71e). Fortunately, Bellamy is there to score the goal of qualifying for the second group stage, synonymous with the round of 16, in added time (90e+1). Unbelievable. Newcastle finished second in their group (with nine points, two more than Dynamo Kiev) and thus become the very first club to reach the knockout stages of C1 after losing their first three matches. Forever the first. The Toons’ saga ended in the next group stage after a third place behind Barça and Inter Milan.
Atalanta Bergamo 2019: the surprised team that nobody saw coming
Atalanta, third in Serie A in 2018-2019, discovers the Champions League in 2019 for the first time in its history. The first three days are nightmarish for the European kid: 4-0 against Dinamo Zagreb, 1-2 against Chakhtior Donestsk and 5-1 against Manchester City. Three losses and a goal average at -9. In short, a terrible baptism of fire. Subsequently, the Dea will radically change its face. Gian Piero Gasperini’s players get up to speed and get a good point in Milan (Atalanta played their home matches at San Siro) against Manchester City (1-1). Bergamo confirms its march forward with a 2-0 success against the Croats of Dinamo Zagreb. The qualifying match is thus played in Ukraine. And Atalanta curls the Chakhtior Donestsk (0-3). Three goals in the second half signed Timothy Castagne (66e), Mario Pasalic (81e) and Robin Gosens (90e+4). The surprising Dea therefore snatches her qualification for the knockout phase by finishing second in her group with seven points (one point ahead of Chakhtior Donetsk). A resounding feat of great rarity. Then, we know the rest. Bergamo, which advocates a very offensive game, atomizes Valencia in the round of 16 (4-1 in the first leg and 3-4 in the return, 8-4 in the aggregate score). Impressive. Note the master class of Josip Ilicic, author of a formidable quadruplet in Valencia in the return match. For its very first participation, Atalanta is part of the Final 8 in Lisbon. This Italian team is causing chills at Paris Saint-Germain and was very close to reaching the last four. In front from the 27e minute thanks to Pasalic, the Dea finally cracked in stoppage time. Marquinhos (90e) and Eric Choupo-Moting (90e+3) send Paris to the semi-finals. Sacred course of Bergamo which marked the spirits and the history of the C1 when everything had started so badly. These are the examples to follow for Marseille.
OM in a very perilous situation
At the 4e day, this Wednesday evening (9:00 p.m.), Marseille is playing its last chance at the Stade Vélodrome against Porto. Misstep prohibited for the Olympians. To keep some hope of seeing the round of 16, OM must probably win their last three matches. Imperative victories at home against Porto and Olympiakos, on Tuesday 1er December (9 p.m.). Then, it will be necessary to hope that Manchester City do full card against these same adversaries so that Pep Guardiola considers turning his group during the reception of OM at the end of the group stage. And look for a result in England. While also hoping that the Greeks dominate the Portuguese in Piraeus or that the two teams separate, at the limit, on a score of parity. If the room for maneuver is more than narrow and that qualifying in the eighth seems more than improbable, the Marseillais will already try to avoid beating the sad record of 12 consecutive defeats in C1 Anderlecht between 2003 and 2005. Avoid also the zero dotted like seven years ago.
Niang’s superb header against Porto in 2007