PAOK-OM: 99th European match to shine in Mandanda, Marseille

Steve Mandanda will begin the second leg of the Conference League quarter-final between OM and PAOK in Greece this Thursday. The 37-year-old goalkeeper will play his 99th European match in the Marseille club jersey and is expected to cross the 100 mark this season.

Deprived of playing time in Ligue 1 after the arrival of Pau Lopez, Steve Mandanda is taking advantage of the Conference League to prove he hasn’t lost any of his talent: the 37-year-old goalkeeper has played as many league games as he has. In the new UEFA competition during the 2021-2022 campaign.

Returning to the quarter-finals at PAOK Salonika’s ground in Greece this Thursday, “El Fenomeno” will therefore play his sixth meeting of the year in C4 and will be eager to help his team maintain its slim lead gained in the first leg . (2-1 win) to make it to the last four of the competition. A poster that will allow him a total of 99 appearances with the Marseille club on the European scene.


Great experience in the Champions League

The European adventures of the 2018 world champions began with a match in the UEFA Cup (ancestor of the Europa League) and an elimination against Zenith Saint-Petersburg of the Arshavin-Pogrebnyak pair. If the Russian club wins the competition, Steve Mandanda is still waiting to lift a continental trophy. After losing the Europa League final against Atlético de Madrid in 2018 (3-0), the Le Havre-trained player could get another chance in Tirana in the Conference League on May 25.

“There were moments that were easier to live with than others, but the most important thing is the collective. That’s what I try to show and bring to the group. Each of us has our individual affairs, but more important is the purpose of the club.” launched Steve Mandanda at a press conference on Wednesday. It is always a pleasure to be on the ground and to continue, I take with great pleasure what is given to me.

>> The best of conference leagues to follow RMC Sport

But before fighting – and shining with five victories in the new UEFA event – ​​Steve Mandanda topped the OM in the most prestigious of events: the Champions League. 49 of 99 European appearances by the goalkeeper (including this trip to Greece) were in C1 (qualification + main tournament). Thursday night’s games have also kept the veteran keeper busy, with 44 outings in the Europa League/UEFA Cup and five – soon to be six – appearances in the Conference League.

some cleaver matches

Always good this season when he plays in the Conference League, Steve Mandanda is not a regular in knockout matches. Currently in his 98 European games (the same total as Fabian Barthez), the 37-year-old goalkeeper has played only 24 games in the final stages (from the accession play-offs to eighth) in the Champions League (5) and the Europa League/UEFA Cup (19). ) in.

During the 2011–2012 season, Brandao and his now famous back control stole the show from Steve Mandanda against Inter in the round of 16 of C1. With several decisive stops in Giuseppe-Mezza, the goalkeeper was not to advance. If the OM goalkeeper had conceded two goals in the return match in Italy (2–1), Marseille was to thank for their success at the Velodrome (1–0). But by offering a penalty to Nerazuri in the final minutes, “El Fenomeno” was ejected and suspended for the first leg of the quarter-final against Bayern.

Steve Mandanda and Om against Inter Milan, March 13, 2012
Steve Mandanda and Om against Inter Milan, March 13, 2012 © Icon Sport

His presence for the return quarter in Bavaria was not enough to prevent a second setback and Foken’s elimination from Didier Deschamps (0-2, 0-2). Like Marseille, Steve Mandanda never reached the final stage of the Champions League again.

Steve Mandanda’s performance in the knockout matches is not good. Of the 24 games played, the goalkeeper had won only nine for three draws and 12 losses. It earned only six qualifications for OM out of a possible twelve. Suffice it to say that five consecutive successes in the Conference League allowed them to improve their continental record during the posters.

Mandanda, the unfortunate guardian of the epic in 2018

In a year disrupted by Covid-19 before PSG in the Champions League Final 8 in 2020, OM remains the last French finalist on the European stage. A few months before winning the World Cup with the Blues in Russia, Steve Mandanda had failed to win a European title with Marseille. Author of a scintillating epic with a particularly spectacular doubles against Leipzig and Salzburg in the Europa League, the Marseille club failed to keep Diego Simeone’s Atlético at bay during the final played in Lyon on May 16, 2018 (0-3) Had been.

Suffering from a muscle soreness for much of this Europa League journey, Steve Mandanda played only the quarter-finals (two wins) against Bilbao during the knockout stages, before making his way into the goal for the final.

>> The best of the Europa League is on RMC Sport

Steve Mandanda and Om against Atletico in the Europa League final, May 16, 2018

Unfortunately for “El Fenomeno”, a poor full-axis recovery towards Zambo-Anguisa brought Antoine Griezmann’s first goal. “Grizou” doubled the bet by taking a subtle dive on his France teammates before watching Gabby finish the job on the counter in the final minutes. Four years later, Steve Mandanda and OM have made a new European final one of their season’s goals.

This time in the Conference League, the 37-year-old would like to win the continental trophy. But that requires a good result and qualifying against PAOK in Thessaloniki first this Thursday. A ticket to the semi-finals would allow Steve Mandanda (with the exception of injury) to cross the 100 European Games milestone with Marseille. Among the French goalkeepers, only Hugo Lloris outperformed with 104 appearances, but Steve Mandanda got there with only one club. A true living legend of Om.

Jean-Guy Lebreton The Indian Paper Journalist

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