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Can Rudi Garcia bring the glory days back to Marseille?

Thursday 10th May 2018

Olympique Marseille is one of France's most iconic clubs. As well as reaching more European finals than any other Ligue 1 team, Les Olympians are the only French side to ever be crowned champions of Europe. They have also won ten domestic league titles, putting them level with St Etienne as the most in history. 

In recent years, however, Marseille have gone through a dry spell. No Ligue 1 title since 2010, their last success came in the French League Cup six seasons ago

In October 2016, Marseille received a huge financial boost when Frank McCourt, former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, promised to invest heavily after buying the club. First, he appointed a new manager. Rudi Garcia arrived from Roma.

Garcia won Ligue 1 during his five-year spell at Lille. He then led Roma, a side which hadn't finished higher than sixth for three consecutive years, to back-to-back runner-up places in Serie A.

Since McCourt's arrival, Marseille have splashed the cash. Close to £90 million has been spent on new players during the last three transfer windows.  

Under Garcia's leadership, Marseille have shown real progress. They currently sit fourth in Ligue 1, although finishing as high as second is still possible. With two games remaining, Les Olympiens are only two points behind Lyon and one adrift of Monaco.

Second place would guarantee Marseille a spot in next season's Champions League group stage while third will earn a play-off place. 

Ligue 1 isn't Marseille's only route into the Champions League. Garcia's side have made the Europa League Final. They will take on Atletico Madrid in Lyon next Wednesday evening.

If Marseille overcome Atletico, they will secure Champions League football next season. Although Diego Simeone's men will start as favourites, in a one-off game, Les Olympiens have the quality to win their second European trophy.

Since arriving at Marseille, Garcia has done an excellent job at ensuring key players perform. Florian Thauvin has played as well as anyone in Ligue 1 this season. That includes all of Paris Saint-Germain's title-winning team. The winger has netted 20 goals and assisted 10 to help Marseille push for second place.

Dimitri Payet is proving his worth in Garcia's team, too. After returning to France from West Ham United 15 months ago, the attacking midfielder has 10 goals and 24 assists in 46 competitive games this season.   

Regardless of what happens over the next few weeks, Garcia is building something special at Marseille. He also has money in the bank to add to his already accomplished squad.  

Reaching the French summit will prove difficult, though. PSG, with an unlimited budget and immensely talented roster, are well ahead of their rivals. Currently 17 points to be exact.

Last season, however, Monaco proved that PSG aren't invincible. If Marseille have another good transfer window this summer, they can challenge for the Ligue 1 title next season. With Rudi Garcia in charge, the sky is the limit.

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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