Last meeting – 21/08/2010 – OM 2-0 Lorient (Heinze, Taiwo)
Olympique Marseille: Home: P9, W:4, D:4, L1
FC Lorient: Away: P8, W:1, D:2, L:5
Week 18 sees Marseille welcome 9th placed FC Lorient to the Stade Velodrome. Lorient sit just 1 place and 2 points below Marseille and come looking for their 3rd win at Marseille. On paper Marseille’s previous game, a lacklustre home 0-0 draw with Bordeaux may seem a poor result, however it is important to remember that Marseille had just returned from an incredible come-back game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, and Bordeaux had recently drawn with PSG and won 2 games back to back.
Marseille will look to finish Ligue 1 with 30 points before Christmas to ensure that they still have a remote chance of fighting for the Ligue 1 title and have a definite chance of fighting for automatic Champions League qualification. Lorient will provide an opposition that OM should beat on home soil, before their away game to a team already fighting for their Ligue 1 survival AS Nancy Lorraine on Tuesday.
Lorient have enjoyed a solid start to the season with a strong run of home results, masking their poor away form and have sat around 7th for most of the season so far. Their solitary away victory of the season came on the opening day and although it came against PSG, this was before PSG really gelled and started to perform. They have lost their last 4 away games (against Rennes, Brest, Evian and Montpellier) conceding 11 goals in the process and scoring only twice. Lorient’s recent run of results has seen them slip down to ninth and have only won 2 of their last 8 games, against low-lying Brest and Nice.
Lorient still have a number of assets at their disposal ahead of their trip to Marseille. Although they don’t have true out and out top scorer, they have a number of players from a variety of positions who have scored 2 or 3 goals each including Jouffre, Monnet-Paquet, Emeghara, Aliadiere and Mvuemban demonstrating the teams’ ability to score goals from a variety of positions. Most recently they have looked dangerous scoring goals from corners and set pieces (vBrest and vEvian) and when playing the ball in behind a high-lying defence for strikers to run on to (vAjaccio).
OM are expecting to welcome back Jeremy Morel and Stephane M’Bia to the team, whereas Andre-Pierre Gignac is still out with a groin injury, and Andre Ayew is suspended for this game. Marseille’s typical game plan recently appears to have been to control the game with a high defensive line, crowding the middle of the pitch, playing a passing and moving game before attacking with pace down either flank or in the channels either side of the oppositions centre backs. The most likely line-up for OM will be: 4-4-2: Mandanda – Azpilicueta, Diawarra, NKoulou, Morel – Valbuena, M’Bia Diarra, Amalfitano – J. Ayew, Remy. This would provide OM with a formidable attacking threat, especially with the knowledge that Azpi and Morel are often keen to attack and overlap providing crosses and final balls through to the strikers. The return of M’Bia also supports the central defensive partnership, with OM’s whole defence looking far more comfortable and confident in each game that he has featured in this season.
Marseille will hope that they can continue to put pressure on the teams above them by continuing to win games and if they pick up another six points before Christmas it should ensure that PSG, Montpellier, Lille and Lyon will be looking over their shoulders more than they expected to. A win combined with other results could see OM finish the weekend in 7th place only 1 point away from 5th place, however, Deschamps and his team will more likely be concerned with ensuring they take even more confidence into their final game before the Christmas break against Nancy this coming Tuesday. Only when the final whistle has blown in that game can we fully evaluate the first half of the season.
My prediction for the game: OM 2-1 FC Lorient.
Swanny (@OMarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)