The coach of Olympique de Marseille, Jean-Louis Gasset, urged his team to “take a substantial option from the first leg”, in the round of 16 of the Europa League against Villarreal on Thursday (9 p.m.). “Afterwards, depending on the score, we will say: “we are at half-time, we will see…” Okay, but take a substantial option. For that, you have to play,” Gasset argued at a press conference on Wednesday.

The 70-year-old coach, appointed following the departure of Gennaro Gattuso on February 20, has no doubt about what explains OM’s improvement. “It’s confidence,” he repeated several times. When an attacker is confident, he tries something he wouldn’t have tried.” The Olympian club has had three victories under its leadership, against Shakhtar Donetsk (3-1), Montpellier (4-1) and Clermont (1-5). This is also explained by putting the players “in their position, making them succeed in very simple things without opposition” in training and “relaxing the young players of the future.

Against Villarreal, Gasset expects “intensity” and “aggressiveness”. “They have very skillful midfielders, very effective attackers. We also have assets, experience, players who know what the European Cup is, and we have our audience who will make us surpass ourselves,” recalled Gasset.

The former Ivory Coast coach also described as an “aberration” the closure of the northern turn of the Vélodrome stadium for the match, decided by UEFA following the use of pyrotechnic devices in the previous match. “To suspend a platform for a firecracker or a smoke bomb, for me it is an aberration. Football is a party,” he said, before saying “well done for the initiative” of inviting thousands of local children to occupy the north turn.