Coupe de la Ligue: Marseille v Nice Match Preview
Time: 20:50 (19:50 UK)
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Last meeting – 06/11/2011 – Marseille 2-0 Nice (J. Ayew, Remy)
A second game in 4 days for Marseille, takes them back into action in the Coupe de la Ligue. After comfortably seeing off Caen, 3-0 in the quarter finals, at the beginning of January, Marseille will look to extend their 100% record in 2012 and book their place in the final with a win over Ligue 1’s bottom side, Nice.
When the two sides last met, Marseille were just beginning their good run of form having overcome a tricky away game against Dijon, where having been pegged back to 2-2, they managed to hang in, pull together as a team and win 3-2 thanks to a late Diarra goal. This time, Marseille come into the game having overcome an in form Stade Rennes team, where after going behind 1-0, managed to claw their way back into the game and return to the south coast from Brittany with all 3 points winning 2-1 thanks to a late Cheyrou goal.
Didier Deschamps will be happy that Charles Kabore has returned from the African Cup of Nations unscathed and is expected to make an immediate return to the team, now left without the services of Lucho Gonzalez, who has departed for FC Porto. Although Kabore appeared in Burkina-Faso’s final group defeat, 2-1, against Sudan on Monday he may be included in the starting 11, otherwise Diarra would be expected to start. Marseille are likely to return to their 4-4-2 formation for this game, having played more of a 4-2-3-1 against Rennes at the weekend. Marseille’s probable line-up:
A midfield partnership of Cheyrou and Diarra/Kabore should protect the central defensive partnership of Fanni and NKoulou from Nice’s preference of attacking through the middle. (Note the graphic only shows Kabore’s name). If this is Nice’s game-plan it will also give Azpilicueta and Morel a chance to venture forward more often than they were allowed to in the Rennes game, where because of Rennes strong pressing game in the first half their contribution was limited. This will also allow plenty of space for Amalfitano and Valbuena to attack down the wings, something that worked well in the previous meeting between the two teams with J. Ayew’s goal and was also exposed recently in Nice’s game against Auxerre. The absence of Nice’s striker Mouloungui (ACN) will help limit Nice’s attacking threat, he has shown in games this season he is capable of running at defenders and creating chances for himself and team mates. Left midfielder Mounier is also an attacking threat so Amalfitano may have to drop deep in the preparation of a counter attack.
If Marseille play to their strengths then they have a very good chance of overcoming a struggling Nice side, and making it to their 3rd Coupe de la Ligue final in 3 years and stand a very good chance of retaining the trophy for a 3rd successive year, facing the winners of Lorient-Lyon. Predicted score Marseille 3-0 Nice.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)