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)