Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)
Venue: Stade Michel d’Ornano, Caen
Last meeting – 02/12/11 – Ligue 1 – SM Caen 1-2 OM (Caen: Frau; OM: A. Ayew, J. Ayew)
Olympique Marseille travel to Caen for the second time in just over a month, hoping to make it 2 wins from 2 in 2012 in the quarter finals of the Coupe de la Ligue. When the two sides last met Marseille ran out 2-1 winners with the Ayew brothers claiming a goal each either side of a Frau penalty. Since their meeting at the Stade Michel d’Ornano in early December, Caen have failed to register a solitary victory, in fact they have only won 1 of their last 12 games and were defeated on Saturday in the Coupe de France by mid-table, Ligue 2 side Troyes, 4-2.
Marseille on the other hand, come into the game in a rich vein of form, winning 7 of their last 9 games. OM avoided the potential banana-skin cup tie against National side Red-Star Paris, running out comfortable 5-0 winners with goals coming from J. Ayew 2, Valbuena, A. Ayew and a stunning long range strike from Benoit Cheyrou.
Based on current form, Marseille are the clear favourites for this game, however it is unclear which players Didier Deschamps will have at his disposal against Frank Dumas’ side, with a number of players imminently expected to depart for the African Cup of Nations, most notably the in form Ayew brothers. It is thought that Marseille have tried to strike a deal with the Ghanaian FA, to keep on to these players until after next weekend’s Ligue 1 clash with Lille, which would mean that they would be available for selection against Caen. If such a deal cannot be brokered between the 2 organisations then the game could be a great deal more difficult for OM. With back-up striker Andre-Pierre Gignac injured, the untried Omrani is the only striker left to fill in the void left by J. Ayew. Another alternative could be to try out of form and out of favour Lucho with Valbuena as 2 supporting strikers in a possible 4-3-2-1 formation.
Caen will look give their fans something to cheer in 2012 and as their league form has slumped considerably, progression into the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals could provide them with that. I would expect Caen to start strongly in an attempt to get their fans back on side after their disappointing extra time cup exit against Troyes on Saturday. Marseille must look to keep another clean sheet and will hope that potential starters Azpilicueta and Morel can nullify Caen down the wings, a position where a number of goals have come from for them this season.
The OM squad appear to have matured a great deal since their disappointing start to the Ligue 1 season, and they will need to make the most of this as they attempt to regain the Coupe de la Ligue trophy and win the competition for the 3rd time in a row. My prediction is for a close first half with Marseille edging the game later on in the second half. Predicted score: Caen 1-2 Marseille
Swanny (@OMarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)