Inter v Marseille – Champions League Round of 16 Match Preview
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
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
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
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.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)