Marseille seeking European glory again

After over a decade in the football wilderness, Olympique de Marseille is looking to regain their honour in Europe.

A race back to the center circle...

One of football's most historical clubs, Les Phoceens has a proud heritage that stretches back to 1899, with the French club winning their domestic league nine times, and emerging victorious in the Cup de France a record ten times.

The Ligue 1 club also enjoy a huge fan base as a result of their decades of success, housing home fans in the Stade Velodrome, a stadium known for a lively atmosphere as a result of the 60,000 supporters that cheer every pass and shot from their boys in white.

Though Marseille enjoy a proud record in Europe, being the only French club to have lifted the European Cup in their 1993 win, that success was marred by a controversial bribery scandal that rocked the club to it's very roots.

Under the presidency of Bernard Tapie in 1986, Marseille signed players of the highest pedigree, such as Jean-Pierre Papin, Chris Waddle, Klaus Allofs, Enzo Francescoli, Abedi Pele, Didier Deschamps, Basile Boli, Marsel Desailly, Rudi Voller, and Eric Cantona, as well as bringing in star coaches such as Franz Beckenbauer, Gerard Gili and Raymond Goethals.

This brought in an era of domination in French football, with Marseille weeping up four league titles in a row, and the French cup from 1989 to 1992, and their crowning moment was when the Ligue 1 side beat AC Milan in the Champions League final at Munich's Olympic Stadium to win the new-format competition in 1993.

The good times were not to last for Marseille, though, as shortly after in 1994, financial irregularities and a match-fixing scandal engulfed club president Tapie, and Les Phoceens was forced to be relegated to the second division in disgrace as a result.

The club lost their 1992/93 Division 1 title, as well as their right to play in European and international fixtures the season after. Tapie had been ratted out by Valenciennes, whose players Jacques Glassmann, Jorge Burruchaga, and Christophe Robert, had revealed that Jean-Jacques Eydelie had contacted them ahead of the UEFA Champions League final, looking to compromise the trio during their domestic fixture and prevent any Marseille players from getting injured.

In a sense, Marseille suffered greatly as a result of the scandal, in terms of their lost prestige and silverware.
It took new ownership to revitalize the club, as Adidas owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus took over and helped Marseille return to the top tier of French football.

Under his stewardship, the club brought in stars like Robert Pires, Florian Muarice, Christophe Dugarry, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Larent Blanc and Andreas Kopke, and made the UEFA Cup final in 2004. This was a sign of better things to come, as they regained their momentum and won Ligue 1 in the 2009/10 season, and won the 2011 Cup de France by beating Lille Metropole 5-4 at the Stade de Tanger in Morocco, and made club history by qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the fifth time in a row.

Their appearance in Europe will also mark their eighth in total, and coach Didier Deschamps will hope to resurrect Marseille's prestige in Europe, as the club is currently ranked a lowly 15th by UEFA. The Frenchman will feel encouraged by their performance in the competition last season, as they set the Champions League record for an away vicory by thumping MSK Zilina 7-0.



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