Marseille v Nancy – Match Preview

Marseille v Nancy – Match Preview
Date: 02/05/12

Time: 19:00 (18:00 UK)
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Marseille home form: P17, W6, D7, L4, F22, A15, Pts25 (13th)
Nancy away form: P16 W5, D3, L8, F13, A18, Pts18 (9th)

Background –
Once again Marseille will take to the field at the Stade Velodrome on the back of another questionable performance and defeat, this time at the hands of 13th placed FC Lorient after a 2-1 reverse last Friday. Performances of late have been poor, chances limited and confidence at an all time low. It remains to be seen what atmosphere, if any, the fans will create after most opted to boycott the journey north to Lorient. Tonight’s opponents come in the form of 10th placed AS Nancy Lorraine. When the teams last met, before the winter break, Marseille ran out 3-1 victors in what was arguably one of their most assured performances of the season. Marseille will undoubtedly need to repeat this form if they are to pick up anything against Nancy who have not been defeated in their last 9 games and have picked up huge victories against Montpellier and PSG during that time.

Marseille Team selection –
Didier Deschamps squad choice comes from the following:
Goalkeepers: Mandanda, Andrade
Defenders: Azpilicueta, Fanni, N’Koulou, Morel, Traore, Sabo
Midfielders: Diarra, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Valbuena, Bangoura
Attackers: Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew, Gadi, Omrani
Deschamps should look to keep the same defensive unit for this game. Despite the fact that half of the back 4 should be replaced in the summer, rotating the line-up is only likely to weaken the defence further, therefore I’d expect to see (R-L) Azpilicueta, Fanni, NKoulou and Morel starting in front of Mandanda. A midfield 4 of (R-L) Amalfitano, Valbuena, Diarra and Cheyrou offers defensive support through Diarra as well as the attacking threat of Amalfitano and Valbuena. An attacking partnership of Remy and Gignac could be used against Nancy and, although they have not played together too often this season, Gignac looked sharp and eager against Lorient last week and this should be rewarded with another start. This squad selection also allows DD to go 4-3-3 by pushing Valbuena on the right of Gignac and putting Remy to the left, allowing the team to seamlessly change their attacking options if they are struggling.
Starting line-up (4-4-2): Mandanda – Azpilicueta, Fanni, Nkoulou, Morel – Amalfitano, Valbuena. Diarra, Cheyrou – Gignac, Remy.

Nancy –
As mentioned before, Nancy will be no pushovers. Their recent run of form puts them 3rd in the ligue since the beginning of March. Here are 2 ways that OM can help themselves:
1) Accurate Passing: Nancy have shown in recent weeks they can close the opposition down and make them make mistakes. This has allowed them to intercept the ball, take position and break forwards and behind high-lying defence lines. Marseille showed over and over against Lorient that they were susceptible to balls played in behind the defence, and the midfield gave the ball away all too often. Stop this from happening and Nancy will have to look for other ways to attack.
2) Yohan Mollo: Although not as high profile as Nancy’s top scorer Daniel Niculae, Mollo has netted twice this season and topped a tremendous performance against PSG with one of the goals, he also provided an assist during that game and has another 4 to his name. Mollo will be likely to start down the left so if Amalfitano does start he must keep calm and show some composure, something he has failed to do in a number of games lately, and Azpilicueta must show his good groundwork skills to minimise Mollo’s crossing and shooting.

Summary –
As mentioned earlier, this game will be difficult for Marseille. The teams meet in the exact opposite position from their last meeting, with Nancy in a rich vein of form and OM struggling to pick up points. A defeat coupled with results going against Marseille could see them drop to 12 in Ligue 1, only 5 points above the relegation places with a mere 3 games remaining, not safe by a long shot especially as the games are against Europe challenging Saint-Etienne, and relegation threatened Auxerre and Sochaux.
A win should ensure that Marseille are safe from relegation and can look forward to this horrific season ending and focus on regrouping ahead of next season.

Unfortunately I don’t think that Marseille will have enough about them to pick up anything more than a draw, and even then they will have to improve on recent performances. Predicted (hopeful) result Marseille 1-1 Nancy.

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

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