Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Last meeting – Ligue 1 – Marseille 2-0 Le Havre
Olympique Marseille Form: D, W, W, W, W, W
Le Havre Form: W, D, L, W, D, L
Two weeks after disposing of Red Star Paris, Marseille return to action in the Coupe de France against 9th placed Ligue 2 side, Le Havre. The outcome of this game should be relatively straight-forward, however, this being a cup game we’re all aware of what can happen!
Le Havre come into this game with very little pressure on them which makes them a potentially dangerous opposition. This should allow them to play a very natural game, no rush, nothing fancy, just make life difficult for Marseille and hope to score from a set-piece or lucky break. An early goal or solid defensive display from Le Havre could make it a nervy game for Marseille, with all of the pressure on OM to break them down and win by a comfortable margin, therefore avoiding a ‘giant killing’ is as much a priority as making the next round draw. Le Havre should also come into this cup game with some confidence, having defeated their Ligue 1 northern neighbours, Lorient, 4-3 in the previous round. Since then, unfortunately, Le Havre fans have had to endure a goal-less bore-draw with RC Lens and a defeat at the hands of Bastia. If Le Havre arrive at the Velodrome with a full strength side then they can present Marseille with a number of problems. Ryan Mendes, Le Havre’s top scorer with 9 goals, has shown he can finish from various positions this season, and with the support of Walib Mesloub could provide a potent threat if they can avoid Marseille’s high defensive line and offside trap.
It remains to be seen what line up Didier Deschamps will opt for on Sunday. It could be expected that he may start with an unchanged line-up from the team that defeated Lille. This would give players such as Lucho, Traore and M’Bia some desirable pitch time ahead of the difficult trip to Rennes on 29th January, in Ligue 1. For team continuity and allowing the aforementioned players to become more accustomed to each other, I would stick with the same line up. If the usual possession game, combined with peppering the opposition goal with shots is working then Deschamps may wish to change the 11 early in the second half. This may take away some of the atmosphere, however, it would also allow players such as Brandao, Omrani and Sabo to gain some extra playing time. These are players that Marseille may come to rely on in coming weeks if they are unlucky with injuries during the African Cup of Nations period. Likely starting line-up: 4-4-1-1 – Mandanda – Azpilicueta, N’Koulou, Traore, Morel – Amalfitano, M’Bia, Lucho, Cheyrou – Valbuena – Remy. Whatever the starting line-up Marseille must win and keep up their current momentum, from which they are now unbeaten in 8 games. Any other result may knock this team’s confidence and with games against 5th placed Rennes and 4th placed Lyon in the next 3 weeks, they must carry as much confidence and form forwards with them as possible.
Over the last 10 years Marseille and Le Havre have met 6 times with Marseille claiming 5 victories to Le Havre’s 1. If the same Marseille side that swept aside Red-Star Paris, Caen or Lille, turn up then I fully expect les phocéens to make it a very comfortable 6 wins from 7 against Le Havre. Predicted result: Marseille 3-0 Le Havre
Swanny (@OMarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)