Marseille Taste Defeat for the First Time This Year in Brest
Time: 16:00 UK
Venue: Stade Francis Le Blé, Brest
Last meeting – 02/10/11 Marseille 1-1 Brest (A. Ayew; Poyet)
Brest home form: P12, W4, D7, L1, F17, A12 (12th)
Marseille away form: P10, W4, D3, L3, F15, A14 (6th)
After beating Inter Milan 1-0 with a dramatic injury time goal from Andre Ayew in the Champions League, Marseille return to Ligue 1 action this Sunday against Stade Brest. The 1 late goal in that game, helped make up for the disappointing 1-1 draw with Valenciennes last week, and OM would like to make up for the poor 1-1 draw with Brest the last time these two teams met.
In the previous meeting between the sides, a rare Mandanda error gifted SB29 the lead in the 5th minute when a Poyet shot from distance slipped past him. Andre Ayew equalised in the 20th minute, and that result left Marseille 13th in the Ligue 1 standings, but since then they have only lost 1 game. Since the beginning of 2012 OM have now amassed 8 wins, 2 draws, and 24 goals remaining unbeaten. A victory on Sunday for Marseille would give them 7 wins from 7 in all competitions on the road and keep them within touching distance of Lille and Saint-Etienne who have both played a game more. Victory for Brest would give them a little more breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone, which they currently sit only 5 points above.
Marseille Team selection –
Having made a number of changes between the Valenciennes and Inter games, Didier Deschamps will most likely stick with stability and start with his strongest starting 11. Although Brest are not challenging for the title or even a European place, they have been incredibly difficult to beat at home this campaign. Granted they have only won 4, but having only lost 1 game this is sure to be a tight game and Deschamps will have to look for a number of ways to break through the leagues joint 2nd best defence.
Having been forced off with cramp and a slight knee problem, right-back, Azpilicueta is expected to be fit to return to the starting 11. The fit again Andre-Pierre Gignac will be likely to start on the bench, but if the game is going in OM’s direction he could expect a good run out with Deschamps admitting earlier this week that Gignac needed some quality playing time. With Mbia and Remy still out Deschamps may go with much the same line-up and formation that began the game with Inter.
Having been rewarded with an international call up, Marseille will most often look to Amalfitano as their creator and supplier. Throughout the second half of the Inter game, Marseille continually attacked down the right flank and although chances were created, the goal actually came from the left side. It is important that Cheyrou and Valbuena look to play to Ayew and Amalfitano evenly down both sides as well as making runs forwards themselves. The more attacking options Marseille give themselves the more pressure they will put the whole of the Brest defensive line under. Likely line-up and formation:
Brest dangers –
1) Allowing Marseille to control the game. Strange as it sounds, the Inter Milan game may have been the perfect preparation for a game against a small, mid-table side from Brittany. The performance that Inter put in at the Velodrome is typical of Brest, and the difficulty that Marseille had in breaking them down on Wednesday will be duplicated in this game. Brest will be happy to allow Marseille to control the game, looking to counter from such play, and they have created many chances from such occasions this season. Such a tactic may call for Diarra to play a little deeper, in the opposition half when attacking, and break down a Brest attack before it really begins.
2) Attacking down the right. If Andre Ayew is the preferred starting left midfielder then he will need to support Morel more than he did against Inter. The young left-back was often left exposed and Marseille must stop Brest down this side, as goals against Nice, Sochaux and Bordeaux this season have all come from this right hand side. The less time given to Poyet, who often floats into those channels the better as he has 3 assists and 2 goals to his name this season.
This game offers Marseille and their fans a real chance to see just how good their team is now. They have turned it on against le grand teams of Ligue 1, Lille and PSG, however at the start of the season, Brest were exactly the kind of side that Marseille simply couldn’t muster a decent enough performance against. If OM can break down Brest and bring 3 points back to the Velodrome it will suggest that they really are fighting for 3rd place and the draw against Valenciennes really was just a minor blip.
Predicted score: Stade Brestois 0-2 Olympqie Marseille
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Marseille will take a narrow 1 goal lead back to the San Siro, after a last gasp goal from Andre Ayew give les phoceens a 1-0 victory at the Velodrome.
In the first leg of this last 16 clash, in the Champions League, Marseille lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Azpilicueta, Morel, Brandao and Cheyrou returning to the side that drew against Valenciennes. Marseille started the brightest, creating a number of half chances in the early exchanges. The forward 3, most notably Amalfitano were finding space down the wings, but were not able to provide Brandao with anything to really attack.
As the first half progressed Inter began to see more of the ball and regularly counter attacked with pace down the flanks, getting behind Azpilicueta with alarming ease. The high defensive line that OM were playing did not help this matter, however, Cheyrou and Diarra did their best to get back and support.
Marseille’s best chance came from a well delivered Valbuena free kick, curled in towards the goal and Brandao flicked it on to Diawara’s chest and the ball bounced harmlessly out of play.
Although there were no changes for OM in the second half, they started strongly again. Amalfitano was finding more space down the right hand side and with the support of Azpilicueta, Marseille targeted Inter’s left side during almost every attack. Often the ball was played in too early, or the cross was too deep, but at least OM were looking interested.
During the middle part of the second half, Inter began to push on more. They threatened Mandanda on a few occasions, forcing corners and set pieces in dangerous areas. Inter began targeting Morel in their attacks, as Azpilicueta was having a tremendous 2nd half. Unfortunately, Azpi took a bad knock and had to be replaced by Fanni, who was excellent both in defence and, as he has shown previously, going forwards.
Marseille were beginning to look a little stagnant, and gave the distinct impression that they would settle for a draw. The introduction of Jayew and Kabore for Cheyrou and Brandao, didn’t bring about as much of a change in performance as Deschamps would have hoped.
Time was running out, Andre Ayew had a few half chances, his brother also, but none of the attempts really made Cesar work and he hardly moved as most shots were at him. But in the 92nd minute he couldn’t move and Marseille scored. Andre Ayew had cut in from the left and let out a brilliant outside of the left-foot shot that won a corner. Corner swings in, Ayew rises at the near post, ball connects with head. Suddenly the world has went into slow motion, you can see the burst of perspiration off Ayew’s head, you can hear the aging Inter’s joints creaking and everyone in the Velodrome draws a breath. It looks like it going in, the ‘keeper hasn’t moved, it hits the back of the net. GOAL! With the last chance of the game, Marseille came good.
Looking back, if one team was going to win the tie it had to be Marseille, they looked far more interested in the win, whereas Inter would have gladly settled for a draw judging by how they set themselves up defensively.
MOTM – Amalfitano – Since awarded with a France call up for his consistent form, he was Marseille’s main threat all night. Valbuena had started lively, but difted out of the game. Andre Ayew started quiet but grew into the game. Amalfitano was a constant thorn in Inter’s left side. Not blessed with blistering pace, he often crosses early and from deep, which hasn’t always supported OM’s strikers, however as his confidence grew, he was happy to get into excellent positions and unselfishly play in others players. Credit to Valbuena, Azpi and Fanni for supporting but Amalfitano would hold the ball up well and play in excellent passes to them.
Special Mentions –
Azpilicueta – Gifted Inter too much space in the first half at times, which did lead to a number of chances, however, he knuckled down in the second and nothing got past him. His improvement lead to Inter having to look unsuccessfully elsewhere for a weak-point, which thankfully wasn’t found.
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Marseille v Valenciennes Match Preview
News update – 16/02/2012 – Injuries, Postponements and Some Progress Continue reading