The French are the favourites to brush aside their European semifinal opponents, but UEFA’s latest disciplinary sanctions may handicap them
Nigerian international Cyriel Dessers and Feyenoord have been handed a massive boost ahead of their Europa Conference League semifinal clash with Olympique Marseille after UEFA slammed the hammer down on the Ligue 1 side.
UEFA has punished Marseille for their fans’ unruly behaviour during the first leg of their quarterfinals clash with Greek side PAOK.
Aside from imposing a fine totalling almost 100,000 Euros on the French club, the football body has ruled that Marseille must close the Virage Nord section of their stadium, the Stade Vélodrome, for the second leg of the semifinal faceoff with Feyenoord.
The fearsome 13,000-capacity Virage Nord, the grandstand behind one of the goals, is where Marseille’s most fanatical supporters usually sit, cheer, and make their presence felt while trying to intimidate opposing strikers.
After dropping down from the Europa League, Marseille have won all six Conference League matches, including each of the three – against Qarabag, Basel, and PAOK – played at the Stade Vélodrome.
The Olympians are the favourites to progress to the final of the maiden edition of the Conference League, but Feyenoord will retain hopes of causing an upset.
Feyenoord’s main man and Super Eagles striker Cyriel Dessers is the competition’s joint-leading scorer (alongside Roma’s Tammy Abraham) with eight goals. And with him spearheading the Dutch side’s attack, they will feel they stand a chance against the 1993 European Cup winners.
Remarkably, six of Dessers’ goals have been scored on away grounds, with the Nigerian netting twice at Slavia Prague during the group stages and grabbing another brace away to the same opponents in the quarterfinals.
The on-loan Genk forward also hit the target in Feyenoord’s 5-2 win at Partizan Belgrade and the 2-1 win at Union Berlin.
Dessers will look to add to his goal tally in front of an empty Virage Nord when he makes the trip with Feyenoord to the south of France to trade tackles with Marseille on May 5.
The Eredivisie giants will first look to grab a positive result when they host OM next Thursday (April 28) in De Kuip.
The aggregate winner between the two qualifies for the final of the Conference League scheduled for the Albanian capital of Tirana on May 25.
Leicester City face AS Roma in the other semifinal.