Time: 21:00 (20:00 UK)
Venue: Stade Bonal, Montbeliard
Marseille away form: P18, W4, D5, L9, F19, A25, Pts17 (11th)
Sochaux home form: P18 W4, D4, L7, F20, A24, Pts25 (17th)
Having helped to confirm the relegation of Auxerre to Ligue 2 in their final home game of the season last week, Marseille could compound Sochaux to the same fate if results go against them this week. Having drawn the opening game of the season 2-2 at the Velodrome both teams will look to end their respective poor seasons with a win. Victory for OM would ensure they finished the season without being beaten in their final four games, and would perhaps paper over some of the cracks of this season, potentially allowing OM to overtake Evian in 9th place. A victory for Sochaux would ensure survival and Ligue 1 football for another season.
Marseille Team selection –
The main confirmed absentee from this game is Loic Remy, and with his departure (supposedly to Tottenham Hotspur) seemingly imminent, Marseille can begin Ligue 1 life without him early. Having won a bet with manager Didier Deschamps, Gignac is guaranteed a starting birth as he will be OM’s captain for the day. The rest of the starting line-up could be expected to be the same as the 11 who performed well against Auxerre. The subs bench will likely be made up of fringe players and youngsters, with players such as Sabo, Brandao and Bangoura perhaps being given more pitch time ahead of the summer.
Playing a 4-3-1-2 formation could benefit Maraseille’s attacking strengths by allowing Valbuena to see a lot of the ball as the ‘1’ behind the strikers, and would allow Jordan Ayew to use his pace and also give Gignac someone in support, something he has lacked in some of the previous games. Likely starting 11: Mandanda – Azpilicueta, Fanni, Diarra, Morel – Amalfitano, Kabore, Cheyrou – Valbuena – Gignac, J. Ayew.
Having languished arround the depths of Ligue 1 since week 18, sacking manager Mehmed Bazdarevic, seemed to do work as they picked up 3 wins from 4 in March. This form dropped again and Sochaux looked certain for the drop, but victories against Nancy and fellow strugglers Caen in the last 2 weeks have seen them climb out of the relegation places, and relegation is now in their own hands. Here are the main threats that Sochaux possess.
Ryad Boudebouz – The attacking midfielder can play in most positions in midfield offering good control, passing and crosses for team mates. His most potent threat comes when playing from an attacking-right-midfield position, where he has provided 3 of his 5 assists and 1 of his 5 goals this season. Possitions here against OM would see him facing up against Jeremy Morel, who has often shown weakness against strong runners. As a result, Benoit Cheyrou must look to minimise Boudebouz’ impact by supporting Morel when needed.
With more riding on this game for Sochaux then Marseille, I would expect that Sochaux will likely outperform Marseille in most areas in this game. The desperation for a result to avoid relegation coupled with their recent form should see dedication and commitment the likes of which OM fans have only seen in fleeting glimpses throughout this season. I am always nervous about the inclusion of Fanni and Diarra, and this is made worse by the fact that they will be the central defencinve partnership. If Sochaux can keep the ball on the ground around Fanni and Diarra then I think they have every chance of causing Mandanda a number of problems. Predicted result: Sochaux 2-1 Marseille
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)