Football: uncertain workforce, Champions League … The challenges that await Igor Tudor on the OM bench

His name is, at first glance, not the most high-sounding. Former coach of Hellas Verona, Igor Tudor was appointed coach of Olympique de Marseille on Monday July 4. The Croatian replaces Jorge Sampaoli, who left the Marseille club suddenly on Saturday. For this Ligue 1 neophyte who is still relatively inexperienced as a head coach, the challenges are many.

Preparing for the season with an uncertain squad

This is the main reason for Sampaoli’s departure: the Argentinian was frustrated with OM’s budget limits, which he said was harming the smooth running of the transfer window. Where rivals have strengthened (Tolisso and Lacazette in Lyon, Minamino in Monaco …), Marseille has not, for the time being, recruited a size. Meanwhile, Boubacar Kamara signed for Aston Villa and William Saliba returned to Arsenal. Strengthening, especially in defense, is imperative, even if Samuel Gigot (Spartak Moscow) and Isaak Touré (Le Havre) have arrived.

But the slightest major arrival is conditional on sales. Often described as “transferable”, Duje Caleta-Car, Kevin Strootman or Nemanja Radonjic are still there. The Olympian transfer window will accelerate sooner or later, but the squad available to Tudor in his first training session will obviously be turned upside down by August 31. Difficult, under these conditions, to project the resumption of Ligue 1, scheduled for August 7 against Reims. Any delay in ignition could be detrimental. The repetition of matches will indeed be increased from the start, to compensate for the two-month break linked to the World Cup in Qatar.

Negotiate your discovery of the Champions League well

After a year of withdrawal, OM will return to C1 in September. Unlike its last participations, the club hopes to do something other than figuration. Do we want the Champions League for the money or to be competitive in it?, had also questioned Sampaoli, before slamming the door. Despite his career in the Europa League Conference, Marseille will – unless surprised – poured into a fourth hat guaranteeing him renowned opponents.

Neophyte in the Champions League, which he mainly knew as a player (finalist with Juventus in 2003), Igor Tudor will have to get up to speed. His only experience in C1, as assistant to Andrea Pirlo in 2020-21 at Juventus, ended in a pitiful elimination in the round of 16 against Porto. In the workforce, it’s not much better. Steve Mandanda and Dimitri Payet have contested it in the past, but they mostly lost there. Apart from Arkadiusz Milik, 19 games with Napoli, and a slew of players who experienced the calamitous 2020-21 vintage, the Marseillais remain rookies in the matter.

Restore offensive momentum to OM

Throughout his tenure, Jorge Sampaoli has been able to give his team offensive momentum other than in fits and starts. Fifth attack of the elite, OM often had the ball – second average possession – without really knowing what to do with it. That’s good, Igor Tudor is not the type to practice a purring game. Son Hellas finished fifth in Serie A attack, ahead of Juve and Roma. “When the opponent has the ball, we are already in front to recover it, we don’t wait for an error to attack”Veronese midfielder Adrien Tameze told L’Equipe.

With a game of transition more than possession, he relied on a shimmering 3-4-2-1 in Verona. Unlike Sampaoli, the Croatian has never been reluctant to use a top striker, in this case Giovanni Simeone. This appointment is thus like good news for Milik, often shunned by the Argentinian technician. Another change, the Tudor system is based on a real offensive participation of the pistons. At Hellas, the pendants Faraoni and Lazovic have accumulated 13 assists. But there again, there are many projects: apart from Pol Lirola, OM has no specialist in this role.

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