By Jean Sébastien Maire
17 years … Yes! 17 years were necessary to see Marseille go through the first round of the Champions League (in 1999-2000 the team went to the second round group but did not qualify to a two-game elimination round) at that time in 1993 Marseille even went all the way, winning against Milan 1-0 in Munich.
After losing its two initial games against Spartak at home 1-0 and at Chelsea 2-0, Marseille had 10% chances to qualify. Still, after winning at home against Zilina 1-0 and away 7-0, the club was in a must-win situation when it was going abroad to Russia facing Spartak. Even more than winning, Marseille needed, in an ideal situation, to win without the Russian team scoring any goal (Qualification between two teams with the same number of points is given calculating the results of the two games between the teams with goals away counted as double).
3-0: final score. Spartak did not have any chance from the start, Marseille scoring early at the 18th minute with Valbuena adding an incredible shot at the entrance of the area to a quasi-perfect game. Remy scored at the 54th, with a very lucky sombrero followed by a shot leaving no chance to the Russian goalkeeper; finally Brandao scored his first goal of the season after a quick stolen goal by Andre Ayew. For once, no one contests this win earned with hard work and dedication including all players, especially the criticized ones like Brandao or Azpilicueta (Gignac was injured and did not play).
Now, even if Spartak wins its game against Zilina in two weeks and Marseille looses against Chelsea at home, Marseille is already qualified.
What is to come now? Marseille will play Chelsea at home on December 8th. The two teams already know that they will play the next round; one might expect both teams to rest their main players, however at home Marseille will try to show its best behavior in front of its fans and against an A-team like Chelsea.