Last meeting – 29/05/11 – SM Caen 2-2 OM (Caen: Mollo, Niang; OM: Remy 2)
Olympique Marseille: Away: P7, W: 1, D: 3, L 3
SM Caen: Home: P6, W: 3, D: 1 , L: 3
Olympique Marseille are back in Ligue 1 action just 5 days after their stunning 3-0 victory against PSG. Friday night’s opponents are SM Caen who sit just 2 points and 1 place below Marseille in the league standings having experienced a little slump in form lately. OM will once again hope that another important win, like those against Olympiakos, Evian, Dortmund and Ajaccio can prove to be something of a catalyst to really kick-start their season.
The excellent result that OM achieved against the title favourites was a direct result of the excellent performances by the whole OM squad. The return of M’Bia certainly helped to solidify the centre of the park for OM, but all around him players pushed forward, tracked back and played with discipline, desire and dedication, something we are all aware has been lacking too often this season. The one negative from the game is that Loic Remy suffered an injury from which he has not yet recovered from in time for this game. However, after his recent apology to Didier Deschamps, Andre-Pierre Gignac has been included in the travelling squad.
The competence in the performance against PSG suddenly puts a slightly different slant on OM’s form ahead of their game against Caen. Forgotten about is the lacklustre performance and chorus of boos and jeers that came after the disappointing Champions League defeat to Olympiakos ahead of the PSG game, and we now look at a league record that boasts only 1 defeat in 9 games, including 4 wins from the last 5 games. Marseille should look to attack this game down the wings. SM Caen have often been open to conceding goals when attacked this way if the wingers or striker can provide accurate crosses for team mates (Barbosa for ETG, Utaka & Belhanda for MHSC and Menez for PSG). The most likely line-up for OM will be: 4-4-2: Mandanda – Azpilicueta, Diawarra, M’Bia, NKoulou – Valbuena, Lucho, Diarra, Amalfitano – J. Ayew, A. Ayew. If things are not going well for OM, a late change, perhaps Gignac and Cheyrou could help continue to pressure Caen into the last 30 minutes of the game. Caen have conceded 15 goals in the last 15 minutes of either half this season, so may be prone to concede against an attacking, passing team like OM.
Frank Dumas’ squad, however, do have many strengths of their own. Goals have come from many positions for Caen with defenders, midfielders and strikers all chipping in to SMC’s total of 22 goals, the 6th best in Ligue 1. OM defenders will need to be wary of set-pieces as this is where Caen’s goals against PSG came from (Heurtaux and Vandam with near post headers from corners), as well a goals against SB29 and ETG earlier this season. Thankfully SM Caen have hit a little slump in form having only picked up 1 win in their last 7 Ligue 1 games, although this does slightly mask their encouraging performance against PSG in week 12 which resulted in a 4-2 defeat at the Parc des-Princes.
Marseille will hope that they can put more points between themselves, Caen and the other teams in the bottom half of the Ligue 1 table, as well as begin to improve their woeful away form this season. A win this weekend, combined with defeats for Lorient (away to Montpellier) and Saint-Etienne (away to Stade Brest) could see OM end the weekend in a season high 7th place. A win would also ensure that Marseille continue their recent run of form when visiting Caen, having won 3 and drawn 1 of the last 4 outings.
Hopefully the win over PSG really has kick-started OM’s season and this should help ensure a predicted 3-1 victory for them.
Swanny (@OMarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)