Marseille v Lyon – Match Preview

Date: 05/02/12

Time: 21:00 (20:00 UK)

Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Last meeting – 18/09/2011 – Lyon 2-0 Marseille (Bastos, Gomis)

Marseille home form: P11, W6, D4, L1, F16, A5, Pts 22 (6th)

Lyon away form: P11, W4, D1, L6, F12, A13, Pts 13 (7th)

 

Background –

Marseille have twice dug-deep for a victory in the last week, first having to come from a goal down to overtake Stade Rennes in the Ligue 1 standings, and second having to see off a plucky, hard-working Nice team to make it into the Coupe de la Ligue final where they will face Sunday evening’s  opponents Olympique Lyonais.

In the last ‘Olympico’, Lyon swept aside Marseille with relative ease as they took their perch at the top of Ligue 1, staring down the table as Marseille sat rock-bottom. Lyon scored two relatively simple goals that night, attacking with pace, targeting OM’s right side and exploiting a weak defensive line lacking in confidence. Since that mid-September meeting, Lyon have been perfectly consistent, consistently winning or losing, as they haven’t drawn a game since Week 3 (1-1 v Stade Brestois). Once again, however, Marseille will face a team for the second time in a season in a much greater position than last time. The team’s confidence is sky-high at the moment having won 9 out of their last 11 ligue games and they have a 100% record since the turn of the year winning 6 out of 6 scoring 17 and conceding only 3. Lyon’s defence and attack should both expect a much sterner test in this Olympico.

Marseille Team selection –

Didier Deschamps is able to call upon Diawara and Kabore for the first time in Ligue 1 this year as both have returned from African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal and Burkina-Faso respectively. However, Deschamps is still without the services of brothers Ayew, on CAN duty with Ghana still, Stephane Mbia (thigh), Andre-Pierre Gignac (returned to training after groin surgery) and the ludicrously banned Mathieu Valbuena. It remains to be seen if Deschamps sticks with his central defensive pairing of Fanni and Nkoulou who have performed exceptionally well in previous games, or if Diawara will walk straight back into the starting 11. In midfield the enforced absence of Valbuena after his horrific red card again Nice on Wednesday for, of all things, taking a quick free-kick, will likely see Kabore return to the starting team. To cover for the absence of Valbuena, Cheyrou will probably drop into a LM position with Remy taking up a slightly deeper role leaving Brandao the role of a target man, which he seems to have adopted during previous games. Remy and Brandao will look to use their individual strengths, close-control and pace to attack a Lyon defence, that looked decidedly week midweek, and add to their impressive tally of 6 goals in the last 4 games between them. As shown in the line-up below it is important for Amilfatano to offer support to Azpilicueta, this is due to OL’s preference of attacking down their left 42% as opposed to 33% down the right and 25% straight down the centre. This strategy would also allow Diarra to offer cover down the right should Lyon attempt to counter attack when Amilfatano is forward, something that happened countless times back at the Stade Gerland in September. Probable Marseille line up (4-2-3-1):

Lyon –

Here are the thoughts of Olympique Lyonais fan Etienne Michon, with a more accurate account of the threat that Lyon possess, and how they will enter the game.

OL head into this Sunday’s huge game with confidence… and a few interrogations. The club has won its last two games, a home Ligue 1 game against Dijon and a League Cup semifinal against Lorient, the latter after an epic comeback that saw Jimmy Briand get an equalizer at the 94th minute. Rémi Garde will be able to count on all of his offensive players, including red-hot Bafétimbi Gomis (two goals and 1 assist in the last two games), Alexandre Lacazette (who scored a brace against Lorient) and Clément Grenier. However, the Lyon coach is likely to bench his youngsters and start a more experienced offensive quartet composed of Briand, Bastos, Lisandro Lopez and Gomis.

There are also less concerns about defensive depth than a few weeks ago, when OL had to field a rather experimental Gonalons-Umtiti pairing of central defenders. Thanks to B.Koné’s return from the African Cup of Nations and Cris’ comeback from an injury, Garde has more options. But Cris posted a horrendous performance against Lorient, and a similar performance against the likes of Rémy, Amalfitano and Brandao would put OL in great danger. If Koné looks like a lock in defence, it is still unclear whether Garde will choose to go for Cris or for the 18-year-old Samuel Umtiti.

OL probable XI: Lloris-Cissokho, Cris (or Umtiti), B.Koné, Réveillère-Gonalons, Källström, Briand, Bastos- Lisandro, Gomis (or Grenier)

 (Etienne Michon provides excellent English language coverage of all things Lyon and can be followed on twitter @OLNews_eng or @E_ten)

Summary –

Being one of the most well-known games in the Ligue 1 calendar, this Olympico in particular has more riding on it than a number of the previous ones. Both teams are in good form and trying their best to keep up with the ligue pace setters PSG, Montpellier and Lille. A combined defeat and results going against them could see Marseille 5 points off the top 3 and 12 points off the ligue leaders, with the same results Lyon would find themselves only 1 point better off. If both teams play to their attacking strengths and go all out for a win this could be one of the games of the season and as a football fan, this is what I hope to see on Sunday evening. What none of us want is both teams being too frightened to lose and sit back (unless of course Marseille still win, and I’d probably put up with it!).

Although Lyon have the advantage in recent Olympico’s, having won 3/6 (2 draws, 1 OM win), it would be easy to suggest they would be favourites ahead of this game. If you combine Lyon’s 120 minutes of Coupe de la Ligue action on Tuesday and their 2 previous ligue defeats on the road against Valenciennes and Montpellier, OM are clearly the form team. Historically Marseille also have the stats on their side at the Velodrome, boasting 19 wins over Lyon’s 9. Let’s hope that the current and historical trends continue to favour Marseille. Score prediction: Marseille 3-2 Lyon.                

 Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

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