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Jorge Sampaoli has now made Marseille a real title contender

Jorge Sampaoli is known for a few things. His fiery manner during the games, his passion for victory and the fluid way with which he sets up his team.

The Firebrand manager has a solid résumé but is best known for his time with the Chilean national team. He is currently leading French club Marseille back into the limelight after years of underperformance.

Les Minots, who secured a place in the Europa League last season, are currently unbeaten with three wins from their four games, the duel against Nice has been canceled. A big part of that success was the tactics Sampaoli used with the right staff over the summer.


Marseille wasted no time in reclaiming many of the familiar faces from the previous season and adding new firepower. William Saliba (back to Ligue 1), Pol Lirola, Matteo Guendouzi and Leonardi Balerdi all returned with some exciting new talent.

Konrad de la Fuente and Amine Harit are two promising attackers for whom Marseille will be the perfect stage. In addition, the loan agreements of Pau Lopez and Cengiz Undertwo strengthen the squad, the tried and tested players with a lot of experience.

Recruiting has always been an important topic for Sampaoli over the years as it has been meticulous about the right fit for the right position.

Now for this overwhelming tactic that everyone seems to notice in each of their coaching teams – with Marseille they started the new season with full swing.


In the 2-0 win against Monaco yesterday evening and in all previous games, there was a lot of discussion about the actual line-up of his team. On various football websites it has been listed as 3-3-3-1, 3-4-2-1 or 4-4-2. What is out of the question is the fact that his players rarely play out their position as the game progresses.

In fact, a lot depends on how your opponent is playing and how they’re setting up attacks. Right-back Pol Lirola regularly plays through the middle of midfield, while Valentien Rongier fills the right flank behind Under. Harit has started playing behind the distinctive options, which is also a unique trait in itself.

In the absence of Arkadiusz Milik, the responsibility of being the man ahead rests on Dimitri Payet and, most recently, Ahmadou Bamba Dieng. However, the passing accuracy of this team has improved as 10 out of 14 players who have completed at least one game have greater than 87% success. Guendouzi was one of the greatest beneficiaries of it all.

The Frenchman has been involved in 15 shots while putting 59 pressure on the defensive. Sampaoli loves when his side pushes hard no matter what time of day. They have the lowest xG against in Ligue 1 at 1.91. Given how often the players swap positions, midfielder Rongier has become an important cog.

He has 24.82 pressures and 4.48 P90 tackles, placing him in the top 96 and 99 percentiles across Europe. On the other hand, 20-year-old Saliba has become one of the league’s most agile center-backs. His 4.50 progressive passes, 5.42 progressive carries and 0.63 completed dribbles also put him above the top 90 percentiles.

Sampaoli’s focus on smashing opponents with skillful movements helps confuse them as to whom to mark.


Marseille have over 60% of the ball on average which ensures they have plenty of time to build up. Playing in from behind with attackers falling deeply allows spaces in the back that are well used. Under have improved their game significantly after a disappointing last season at Leicester City.

The Turkish attacker has received 9.29 progressive carries and 10.02 progressive passes so far, which underlines his overall commitment as a playmaker. He and Payet have made a brilliant partnership, but it’s not limited to just them. Harit’s uptake will prove to be a massive boost as he likes fighting defenders and beating them for pace / tricks.

Since you didn’t have a real physical presence to begin with, their defenses need to be reinforced a bit. You have already conceded five goals that speak of a “high risk, high reward” approach, which is very often associated with sampaoli.


PSG started perfectly, winning five out of five, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. After defending champion Lille fell terribly under new leadership, it looks like Sampaoli and Co. have a great chance to push the capital club.

Sampaoli takes no prisoners and his passion speaks volumes about the demands he places on his players. It’s gearing up for a delicious race for the title and if PSG slips Marseille will be there right away.

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