Lyon, France, 1st February 2022. An Ulhsport Official Ligue 1 Uber Eats matchball prior to kick off in the Uber Eats Ligue 1 match at the Groupama Stadium, Lyon. Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK SPI-1496-0104

After an impressive start to the Ligue 1 season where Olympique Marseille beat reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain, the Phocaeans welcomed Lille in their second game of the week. After losing to St-Ètienne earlier in the week, Villas-Boas’s men took the field to repeat the last season’s performance. Where the beat Lille in both their league matches.
On the other hand, Lille themselves had a pretty strong start of the season. They won their last two matches and drew to Rennes in their opening week.

Even though Lille played brilliantly, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The xG also favored them with Lille (2.04) had better chances than OM (0.40). In this tactical analysis, we will look at the tactics used by both the teams in this match.


For their second home game of the season, OM started with a 4-2-3-1 formation. After losing to St-Ètienne to their first home game, Villas-Boas made two changes. The Japanese international Nagatomo made his debut at the left-back position and Benedetto came back in after serving his suspension following his red card against PSG. The in-form winger Thauvin started on the flanks along with Payet.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics

Lille started in their preferred 4-4-2 formation. With Maignan in between the sticks. Captain Jose Fonte and Botman played in the center back position. Christophe Galtier also made two changes from their last home game against Metz, where they won 1-0. Celik started as left-back, and Araujo replaced Iknoa on the left flank after his incredible performance last week.

Since Marseille had the most possession in the game with 54%, let’s see what they tried to do with the ball.

Marseille buildup play

Marseille preferred to play long from the back. As the keeper, Mandanda attempted 27 long balls in the match. Since there was no target man, the intention was to win the second ball as out of 27 attempted pass, only seven passes were successful. 

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Marseille long balls

When they play long, there were a few noticeable tactics. First, Payet moved inwards in the proximity of the pass to start a play with any spillovers. Secondly, a player would make run behind the defence in the ball goes over the defensive line.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis
Buildup play

On the other hand, whenever they tried to build up from the back, OM will form a back three to create a numerical advantage against Lille’s two men frontline. Kamara will usually drop in between the centre-backs with both the full-backs high up and hugging the touchline. With both full-backs playing high up and maintaining the width. The back three then look for Rongier, who stayed in between the first line of defence. If he were marked, then OM looked to pass to one of the flanks.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
OM Buildup play 2

As the ball progress, the former West Ham midfielder Payet and Thauvin tucked in and playing in the half-spaces creating ample spaces for both the full-backs to attack. This allowed OM to attack from the flanks, and as a result, 95% of their chances were from the sides.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
OM final third

From here in the final third, Marseille would either try to find Benedetto with a cross. Alternatively, they will cut back or pass to create a shooting opportunity. OM did create an exceptional chance in a similar way. Payet cut inside and passed to Sanson whose shot was blocked but came in the way of Rongier. Rogier had plenty of space but his effort was eventually denied by the woodwork.

Lille’s defence and counter attack

As the OM’s attack progressed, Lille stayed compact in their 4-4-2 system, and it worked pretty well. Firstly, the two men’s frontline forced the backline to pass sideways.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille’s Defensive shape

The defensive line in this phase stayed narrow to deal with any possible crosses. Whereas in the midfield line, wingers were accountable for the wide Marseille players. And the central midfielders remained in the middle for extra support.

Another key aspect of the defence was that Lille always defended in numbers. We often saw Araujo and Bamba tracking back and supporting in defence whenever they were caught on the break. Whereas, Soumare and Andre were scanning the area for any potential cut back passing lane. 

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille Defense

Since the Phocaeans had too many men in the attack, they played with a relatively high line. Lille was aware of it, and as soon as they get the ball, they looked for Yimilaz/David. Both the forwards made darting runs behind the defence and tried to hurt OM on transition. 

Time after time we saw Lille’s midfield cutting the first two lines of defence with a single pass. And from there within a split second Lille had multiple players making forward runs.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille’s passing

Lille created some excellent chances, and we saw a glimpse of this in their goal.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille Goal

Andre won the unchallenged header and passing in between the lines to Bamba. With Nagatomo out of position, Bamba passed it to Arajua, who then finished sublimely with his left foot.

Lille on the ball

Lille also preferred to play long with Maignan attempted 24 long balls. With Yilmaz, Lille had a physical target man up front, and Maignan was usually able to find him as he had 11 accurate long balls. From there, Lille played direct balls in between the lines with both forwards and wingers running behind the backline. 

Although whenever they were building from the back. Christophe Galtier’s men will also form back two/three depending upon OM pressing. Lille’s back three was more dynamic than Marseille as either full-back or midfielder joined both the centre-backs. But more than often, we saw Celik forming the back three. 

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille buildup

During this phase, Soumare and Andre created a double pivot for an extra passing option. As the ball progressed, Bamba would then tucked in, and Bradaric and Araujo provided the width.

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille passing options

As they proceed, Lille made sure that the man on the ball has enough passing options. Lille created small triangles around their man in possession. This was mostly achieved due to the impeccable positioning of both the midfielders, Andre and Soumare. Another option, as shown in the picture, one of the forward was making runs behind the defence. Whereas, the second striker and far winger were available for any potential crosses.

Lille’s dynamic frontline

Lille’s frontline had a great match and had a strong presence on the field. Both the strikers were comfortable dropping in between the lines. Usually, one of them would drop to create a numerical advantage in the middle of the park. While the other would stay in between the defenders lurking for space to run behind. 

Ligue 1 2020/21: Marseille vs Lille - tactical analysis tactics
Lille frontline

Both the wingers had different roles in the game. Bamba played as an inverted forward and playing between the lines. Whereas Araujo stayed wide, providing the width and coming in only in the final third.


We can conclude from the above analysis that Lille would be disappointed to share points with Marseille after such an impressive display. Lille played direct football and gave OM all sorts of troubles. On the other hand, Marseille should consider themselves fortunate. It’s safe to say that woodwork and an incredible performance of Mandanda got them a point. Andre Villas-Boas’s team is going through a difficult patch. Looking forward to how he changes his team tactically in coming matches to book his place in the Champions League.