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Olympique de Marseille, a historic French side in the Round of 16
Olympique de Marseille, a historic French side in the Round of 16

Villarreal face OM tomorrow at the Stade de Marseille at 9pm CET

Villarreal CF face Olympique de Marseille tomorrow in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League round of 16. The match, which kicks off at 9pm CET at the Stade de Marseille, will be the first of an exciting and evenly matched tie that will be decided in the second leg on Thursday 14th March at 6:45pm CET at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

Olympique de Marseille is a French club from the city of Marseille, France, founded in 1899, competing in Ligue 1, where they currently occupy seventh place in the league table.

Their motto, Droit au but (Straight to the goal), represents their philosophy of direct, attacking football, a way of understanding football so important to the locals that the same phrase appears on the crest of the French giants.

The Côte d’Azur club is also one of France’s most successful clubs in terms of trophies. As well as being the club with the most seasons in the French top flight, Marseille have won nine French leagues – the 2009/10 season being the last one -, ten French Cups, three Super Cups and three League Cups. As if that wasn’t enough, the Submarine’s next opponents were UEFA Champions League winners in 1992/93, making them the only French club capable of winning Europe’s top competition.

Their current head coach is Jean-Louis Gasset, who took over in February 2024 following the sacking of Italian Gennaro Gattuso. Gasset, who is the third head coach to take charge of the French side this season after Marcelino Garcia and Gattuso, has experience in the Ligue 1 dugout.

His squad includes players such as the Spaniard Pau López, Kondogbia, Ounahi and Aubameyang, top scorer in the history of the Europa League with 31 goals. In addition, legends of the sport such as Jean Pierre Papin, Didier Drogba and Enzo Francescoli have played for Marseille.

The match will be played at the Stade de Marseille, a stadium with a capacity of 67,894 spectators, the second largest in France, behind only the Stade de France. This tie will be the first official meeting between Villarreal and Olympique de Marseille. The only two previous encounters have been friendly matches. The first was in the 2018/19 pre-season and ended 1-1, while the second was in the summer of 2021 and was won 2-1 by the French side.

Olympique de Marseille’s route to the Round of 16

In the group stage, Olympique de Marseille were drawn in Europa League Group B with Brighton, Ajax and AEK Athens. The French side finished second in the group with 11 points, which meant they had to play in the qualifying round before they could reach the last 16. In the qualifying round they faced Shakhtar Donetsk, drawing 2-2 in the first leg and winning 3-1 at home in the second leg after a great performance from striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.