Thursday 20th October 2011

It certainly wasn't the best European encounter you will ever see but as time ran out a draw also wouldn't have been the worst result ever. Then of course, as the weather changed to more Cumbrian than Mediterranean, Rambo slammed home our late winner and a small section of the Stade Velodrome went doolally! Get in!

Marseilles is a city I have never visited before, quite a rarity after so many years of European football. I have received varied reports from people who had in the past but like with everything in life I like to form my own opinion rather than be influenced by others.

Those of you watching the match at home are likely to think the weather has been no better than a typical British autumn, however as I write these thoughts there is not a cloud in the sky and it has been pleasantly warm since our arrival on Tuesday morning.

This gives itself to definitely one of my favourite activities on these trips, al-fresco dining, and the food, service and general atmosphere we have enjoyed in the city's famous Vieux Port area has been simply fantastic.

The locals have been extremely hospitable and only too pleased to talk and joke about the football, confident of course their team would continue the 100 per cent start they have made to their European campaign.

Party-wise, Tuesday night was traditionally full-on and matchday too consisted of much to enjoy in the build-up. And the result of course gave us an easy 'excuse' to enjoy last night well into the early hours too.

The Stade Velodrome is being redeveloped at the moment but our hosts are known for being among the most noisy and passionate in France so we knew the atmosphere could be quite something.

As it turned out we gave them very very little to get excited about in what was a dogged performance all-round.

The first half was forgettable but crucially we looked solid, something that would be of massive importance right to the very end.

Theo and RVP enjoyed the best chances of the match during the second period and with time running out it looked like we would be taking away a hard-earned point for our efforts.

The heavens then opened and Rambo smashed home our all-important late, late winner!

An excellent week so far then and Stoke City stand in our way next, a club enjoying a European foray themselves this season, testament to the fact they have comfortably established themselves at the higher end of English football.

I don't remember ever having an 'easy' game against Stoke since their return to the top flight and I don't expect Sunday to be any different.

One last lunch before we head home and on this occasion we are searching for Marseilles signatory dish... Bouillabaise.

A meal to be enjoyed in the company of three big and highly-satisfactory Champions League points!


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20 Oct 2011