Monthly Archives: March 2012

Marseille v Bayern Munich – Champions League 1/4 Final Match Preview

Date: 28/03/12

Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)

Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Marseille home Champions League form: P4, W2, D0, L2, F4, A2

Bayern away Champions League form: P4 W1, D1, L2, F3, A4

Background –

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Nice v Marseille match preview

Seven defeats in a row, a new low for Marseille, but not just this season, as that run of form is now the worst in their history. The most recent defeat coming at the hands of 3rd tier outfit US Quevilly in the Coupe de France. Not the greatest preparation for a south coast derby against Nice, followed by OM’s biggest game in years, the quarter-final Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.

Without worrying about the incredibly poor run of form, the heartless, gutless, spineless performances, the fact that OM haven’t scod a goal in their last 3 away Ligue games, Marseille can at least take some solise from the knowledge that they have already beaten Nice twice this season. During those games, Marseille actually looked fairly comfortable, and should not forget that Nice have spent most of the season languishing around the relegation zone and they currently sit 18th.

Marseille Team selection –

Didier Deschamps must select his starting line up without the availability of injured top goal scorer Loic Remy, and suspended defensive rock Nkoulou. It would have been sensible for Deschamps to select the 11 that he will start against Bayern next week, playing in the same manner, however, that obviously won’t be the case. Another defensive shuffle is on the cards and yet another change in strikers is hardly what the doctor would have ordered.

Despite not having the most comfortable of games against lowly US Quevilly midweek, Bracigliano may start in goal agains to help give him some valuable pitch time ahead of his enforced start against Bayern. The defensive four could be Azpilicueta, Diawarra, Mbia and Morel. Diarra and Kabore will likely sit behind A.Ayew, Valbuena and Amalfitano with Brandao upfront on his own. The two defensive midfielders will need to help support both right and left backs in preparation for the Bayern game especially with Arjen Robben and his perpetual desire to cut in from the right and shoot. The 3 attacking midfielders must also start to link up play far more effectively. Although the 4-4-2 system seemed to work very well mid-season, Deschamps has insisted on changing this along with rotating the squad and the players now need to respond positively no matter what the formation. Ayew, Valbuena and Amalfitano have looked good going forwards, however this has not always supported the lone striker, with long balls or crosses often being inaccurate, or the striker being muscled off the ball by two centre-backs. Passing football on the ground is the way these 3 should play, cutting in and having shots, one-twos, through ball behind the defence for each other and the striker to run on to. If these 3 are firing on all cylinders they are an incredibly formidable group.

Summary –
Having entered the two champions League games against Inter after poor results, Marseille will hope that they can take some confidence into the Bayern Munich game, and a win against Mediterranean rivals Nice would certainly help. The OM team must really step up now and show that they actually care in these games, as too often this season too many players simply have not shown that they are bothered. Another good run of results could see Marseille challenging for a Europa League place, instead of relying on this through winning the French cup. Predicted result: Nice 2-2 Mareille.

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Marseille v Dijon – Match Preview

Date: 17/03/12

Time: 19:00 (18:00 UK)

Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Last meeting – 29/10/11 Dijon 2-3 Marseille (Jovial, Corgnet; Remy, Cheyrou, Diarra)

Marseille home form: P14, W6, D6, L2, F19, A9, Pts24 (5th)

Dijon away form: P13, W2, D3, L8, F12, A28, Pts9 (15th)

 

Background –

Having now lost 5 games in a row, Marseille should be wary going into a game against a Dijon team looking to avoid relegation after their first season in Ligue 1, shouldn’t they? Well, yes and no. Qualification into the ¼ finals of the Champions League will certainly do a great deal for team morale, despite losing on the night and having Steve Mandanda sent off late on. More importantly, the performance against Inter will have instilled much confidence. Unlike the recent Ligue 1 games, the players looked worthy of wearing the famous OM logo on their strips, they played with determination, commitment and quality. Such a performance against a lesser team than Inter Milan should only result in a dominating OM victory, however, Marseille mustn’t let this confidence transcend into complacency otherwise another ligue disappointment could be on the cards.

When the teams last met in October, the result was the beginning of OM’s springboard that seen them slowly catch up with the Ligue’s leading teams, Deschamps’ men will hope this return fixture can provide them with another run of form that would see then creep back into the European places.

 

Marseille Team selection –

Despite some players not being 100% fit for the Inter game, Deschamps started with his strongest team on paper. It remains to be seen how many of those players made it through the Champions League game unscathed as both Remy and Valbuena were withdrawn in the second half, but are in the match-day squad, however, Andre Ayew won’t feature as he is nursing a shoulder injury.

The formation the team adopted against Inter was a 4-2-3-1, and despite this being problematic at the start of the season, it offered the team a great deal of midfield support and with the inclusion Diarra and Mbia, OM had 2 sturdy defensive midfielders who broke up a great deal of Inters play. Despite this not being as much of a worry when playing Dijon it does allow a very attacking forward 4 to work together and improve their collaborative performances, something that has been missing in recent domestic fixtures.

Cheyrou may well return to the starting 11, pushing Valbuena out left, acting as a more natural left midfielder leaving J. Ayew on the bench who could be introduced later into the match.

The likely starting line-up below is based on a 4-2-3-1 formation, used against Inter Milan.

 

 

Dijon Strengths –

1)      Through balls – Dijon have created a number of chances through counter attacks and fast breaks this season, however one of their main threats will be through neat interplay around the OM box. This kind of play saw Dijon net 3 against Nice in week 24 with Kakuta, Jovial and Kone all getting their names on the score-sheet.  Tracking runners and disciplined marking will be needed to avoid conceding in these situations, and that wouldn’t go amiss when defending corners either!

2)      Benjamin Corgnet – Having netted 8 goals and provided 2 assists this season, Corgnet has been on of Dijon’s more consistent players. He has managed to score from a variety of positions such as individual skill against Montpellier dribbling forward from midfield before finishing the move himself. Also, given space in the opposition box he can finish chances provided by team mates such as in games against Bordeaux and Evian. If Diarra and Mbia can track his running and close him down then this will minimise his impact in midfield open play. If one of the OM defensive midfield pairing tracks Corgnet’s late runs into the box this will nullify another of his qualities.

 

 Summary –

Having put in a quality performance when it really mattered, les phoceens will hope there is no European hangover and they can match the Inter performance with a result against Dijon. Dijon have struggled on the road this season only picking up wins against Evian TG and AS Nancy. Marseille have enough in their squad to defeat Dijon comfortably, however, they should have had enough quality to defeat Valenciennes, Evian and Ajaccio in recent weeks and didn’t. Deschamps must ensure the players go out with the right mentality as they will need a great deal of confidence when facing Bayern Munich in the next round of the Champions League.  Predicted result Marseille 3-1 Dijon.

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

 

Weekend’s other Ligue 1 fixtures:

17/03 – 18:00

Lorient v Brest

Nancy v Montpellier

Auxerre v Evian

Bordeaux v Ajaccio

Caen v PSG

Saint-Etienne v Lyon (20:00)

18/03 -16:00

Sochaux v Nice

Rennes v Toulouse

Lille v Valenciennes (20:00)

Inter 2v1 Marseille (2v2) – Champions League Round of 16 – Match Report

Marseille progressed into the quarter finals of the Champions League, despite losing 2-1 away against Inter on the night. Didier Deschamps men had won the first leg 1-0 thanks to a late Andre Ayew goal and headed into the tie as slight favourites to progress. Both sides have been struggling miserably in the league this season and the CL has been some sort of an escape route from domestic matters. For each club, this was obviously a massive match.

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Inter v Marseille (0-1) – Champions League Match Preview

Inter v Marseille – Champions League Round of 16 Match Preview

Date: 12/03/12

Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)

Venue: San Siro, Milan

Last meeting – 22/02/12 Marseille 1-0 Inter (A. AYew ‘93)

Inter home Champions League form: P3, W1, D0, L2, F3, A4

Marseille away Champions League form: P3 W2, D1, L0, F4, A2

Background –

Two teams, both alike in frailty, In fair Milan, where we lay our scene. Inter, without only 1 win in 10 games, Marseille, without a win in 5 league matches. Has there ever been a Champions League pairing between two more star-crossed teams; will it end in tragedy?

When Inter and Marseille last met, OM were on a fine run of form, unbeaten this year, scoring at will and defensively sound. The draw against Valenciennes that preceded the first leg against Inter was just a minor blip, an anomaly, as they had foolishly began to think about more important games, or so it all seemed. Since this one-off, Marseille have now lost against Brest, 0-1, Toulouse, 0-1, Evian, 2-0 and Ajaccio 1-0, and have not scored in over 370 minutes. Injuries and suspensions along with mental and physical fatigue have been blamed for this with Remy, Mbia, Valbuena, Andre Ayew, Amalfitano and Gignac all missing at various points.

With Marseille having a slender 1-0 advantage, but the overall outcome still hangs in the balance.

Marseille Team selection –

Ahead of the last game it was mentioned that team selection and tactics had robbed Marseille of players and results and it appears the same will be said again. At the turn of this year, Marseille looked like a solid, cohesive team and other than forced changes (through injuries and African Cup of Nations), they were playing as a settled squad, as they had slowly built up a rapport and understanding with each other. In recent games Deschamps has begun changing both the starting line-up and tactics. Azpilicueta and Morel have both played and been dropped as right and left backs respectively, replaced by Fanni and Traore, also Valbuena, A. Ayew, Brandao, Kabore, Diarra and Diawarra have all found themselves bench-warming at times too. These changes have left OM struggling to attack other teams effectively with poor play and positioning letting themselves down in the final 3rd, and the changes have also resulted in the defence conceding a number of weak goals from counter attacks and set-pieces as a result of undisciplined marking.

Marseille do have the benefit of knowing that when the two sides met at the Velodrome 3 weeks ago, they really dominated the majority of the second half. Amalfitano was in particular fine form as he tore down the right time and time again, the late appearance of Fanni also helped as he demonstrated his ability to overlap and cross with accuracy and power. This will most likely be the main threat that OM possess, however, it it important that they use the left flank too, remembering that a number of good chances were as a result of individual skill by A. Ayew in the 2nd half.

It is likely that Deschamps will start the game with as similar a defence as possible to the last game to try and maintain some continuity, Fanni, NKoulou, Mbia and Traore, being the most obvious grouping. Fanni will look to break forwards often, must he must ensure that he does not shirk his defensive duties as Inter were strong on the break in the last game. Traore is likely to be targeted as the weak point in this defence so it is important that he is supported from the holding midfielder (Diarra). The only saving grace for the right and left back is the state of the San Siro pitch, with vast sections having recently been relayed, Arsenal recently found it difficult to attack down the wings with their usual pace.

The return of Remy to the Champions League squad is positive for OM and he will look to reform his partnership with Valbuena that had seen 13 goals and 14 assists provided by the pairing this season. The inclusion of Remy will also give the Inter defence something different to deal with compared to Brandao who started the previous game and had a very quiet second half before he was substituted.

The likely starting line-up below is based on a rough 4-5-1 formation, similar to that which was used against AC Ajaccio.

Here are the thoughts of Serie A expert, Rob Handworker on Inter’s recent form and threats.

Inter Milan welcome Olympique de Marseille to the San Siro on Tuesday night looking to overturn a one nil deficit they suffered at the Stade Valodrome 3 weeks ago courtesy of a Andre Ayew late winner.

You could even say as well as playing for a Champions League quarter final place they will be playing for their manager’s job with it.

Although Inter finally managed to halt their alarming slump of no wins in 8 games when they finally won 2-0 at Chievo on Friday night, they still sit 7th in Serie A, 6 points behind 4th and qualification for the Champions League again for next season. After the game Inter’s president Massimo Moratti gave Claudio Ranieri his backing but speculation is rife in the city that if they don’t progress through this tie he will be dismissed instantly but definitely at the end of the season no matter what. Moratti doesn’t take failure lightly!

Inter will go into the game able to field their strongest team with the mercurial talent and playmaker Wesley Sneijder likely to be reinstated to the starting XI after a spell on the bench. Top scorer Diego Milito will be the one they look to fire the goals in, in tandem with Diego Forlan as Inter will field an attacking team. The defence will be packed full of experience in this competition as well as on the International stage.

Inter will also be confident they can overturn Marseille’s advantage as the French team travel to Italy in a poor run of form themselves.

Probable line up:
Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Stankivic, Cambiasso, Sneijder; Milito, Forlan

Prediction:
With Marseille in a poor run of form and the fact that they haven’t got to the quarter final stage of the competition since they became the first and only French side to win it in 1993, I am backing Inter to secure the 2-0 victory they need to get through and save Ranieri’s job, for a little while longer at least!

You can follow Rob on twitter @essexlad13

Summary –

The outcome of this tie is one of the closest in this round of the Champions League, with neither team having any major advantage. The previous game was hardly one for the purists, with Andre Ayew’s dramatic injury time winner, masking what was a relatively dull match with two teams playing like they were more bothered about ‘not losing’ rather than winning. This time out it could be different, this time out it should be different. Neither team has any chance of winning their domestic leagues and given both teams current form, progress to the next round of the Champions League would certainly help alleviate some of the discontent from their fans and help give the players something to be upbeat about.

Inter will most certainly start the strongest, dictating the pace of the game and dominating possession, Marseille will be happy to sit back and look to counter attack with the pace of Valbuena safe in the knowledge that a sneaky away goal would put them in a much more favourable position. Should Inter manage to net an early goal, it will be interesting to see how Marseille then begin to play. There is a risk of heads going down, or they might begin to play their own game adopting a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, and perform like they actually want to win a game, something the fans haven’t witnessed in recent weeks! Predicted result Inter 2-1 Marseille.

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Ajaccio v Marseille – Match Preview

Date: 09/03/12

Time: 19:00 (UK)

Venue: Stade François Coty, Ajaccio, Corsica

Last meeting – 22/10/11 Marseille 2-0 Ajaccio (A. Ayew 2)

Ajaccio home form: P13, W4, D5, L5 (18th)

Marseille away form: P12, W4, D3, L5 (7th)

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Background –

Having began 2012 in unbeaten inspired form, Marseille have failed to win any of their last 5 Ligue 1 games and have now lost 3 in a row, failing to score in any of those games. Marseille face a difficult trip to Corsica as they prepare to play their 5th game in just 13 days and hope to end this abysmal run of form in the ligue. OM’s opponenets, AC Ajaccio, also started 2012 well, clawing their way up to 15th in the table after 4 consecutive wins, however, since then their solitary victory over Dijon in week 25 has seen them slip back into the relegation places.

When the sides last met, in October, OM were just beginning their fight-back and picked up a 2-0 victory thanks to a brace from Andre Ayew. In truth the score-line could have and should have been higher as OM had 36 shots on goal with ACA ‘keeper Guillermo Ochoa making no less than 13 saves during the match. Marseille inability to finish goal-scoring chances has been a problem all season and has become a prominent feature in the last 3 ligue 1 games, however, les phoceens will hope the return of Loic Remy can help remedy this issue.

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Marseille Team selection –

With fatigue and injury robbing Didier Deschamps of a number of his starting 11 recently there are 3 shining lights ahead of this game with the potential return of Stephane Mbia, Loic Remy and Mathieu Valbuena. Marseille’s top scorer and assister have been sorely missed in recent games and their inclusion in the travelling squad alone may give some tired player an important lift.

The physio’s room has had another visitor this week though as Andre Ayew damaged his shoulder in the Evian defeat and joins Gignac who won’t travel either, although Ayew is expected to travel to Milan for the return Champions League fixture next week.

Deschamps must make the important decision of if he should immediately put Remy and Valbuena back into the starting line-up. These two players need to be at their best against Inter if OM are to qualify, however there are some worried that neither are 100% fit. As a result Deschamps may start both on the bench and give them a 25-30 minute run-out at the end. Given the weakness of the defence in recent matches Mbia could start for the first time since week 20 in a central defensive partnership with Nkoulou, who along with Fanni have looked the more consistent of defenders in recent games. If Marseille do opt to start without Valbuena and Remy it could see a rather defensive central midfield partnership of Diarra and Kabore with Cheyrou dropping into left midfield, as he has been required to do so a number of times this season. With the return of Remy this could be the enigmatic Brandao’s last chance to impress seeing that his form and effort seem to have wained somewhat in recent games. Possible Marseille line-up:

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Ajaccio dangers –

1) Eduardo. Having signed from Ligue 2 side RC Lens, during the January transfer window, Eduardo, has made an excellent start to his Ajaccio career, notching up 4 goals and 1 assist in just 7 appearances. He has shown he has a good first touch, strength, skill and composure with his goals this season. Marseille’s defence must close him down quickly, putting him under pressure to avoid him running at them and potentially playing others in too.

2) Shots. As obvious as it sound, Marseille must stop Ajaccio shooting. Ajaccio average 1 in 3 shots being on target, just less than Evian, and Evian proved mid-week that with good finishing it is more than possible to beat Marseille playing counter-attacking football. This may be how Ajaccio set out for the game and they will look to punish an OM defence with every opportunity they get.

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Summary –

This game will provide a test of mental strength rather than physical strength or skill for Marseille, as they will look to give themselves a much needed boost ahead of the all-important Champions League game next week. However, despite Ajaccio being near the foot of the table, at this stage in the season that offers its own problems. There are very few teams in Ligue 1 this season with ‘nothing to play for’. There are at least 8 teams fighting against relegation, and another 6 fighting for a European place, as it stands there are no Ligue 1 teams safe in mid-table obscurity. Make no mistake about it, Ajaccio will be up for this game and a win could help put 6 points between themselves and the bottom two (Auxerre and Sochaux).

Predicted score: Ajaccio 2-1 Marseille

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Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

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Marseille 0-1 Toulouse – Match Report

Marseille knew that they would face a still challenge in Alain Casssanova’s in-form Toulouse outfit, and this prediction wasn’t far wrong. They came to Le Stade Velodrome with a well-oiled game-plan and some nice controlled tactics which pretty much suffocated OM throughout the whole match, especially in the 2nd half. Continue reading