Monthly Archives: July 2012

Europa League: Eskisehirspor v Marseille Preview

02/08/12 – 19:45 (UK)

Atatürk Stadyumu, Eskisehir, Turkey

Referee – Pawel Gil (POL)


Marseille kick-off their 2012-2013 competitive campaign in the Europa League 3rd Qualifying round against Turkish side Eskisehirspor. After a disappointing domestic campaign saw them spectacularly miss out on Champions League football, Marseille begin their new season earlier than they would have liked on the back of their Coupe de la Ligue victory over Lyon in April. Eskisehirspor are in the 3rd qualifying round having overcome Scotish Premier League team St. Johnstone in the 2nd Qualifying round, having finished 5th in the Turkish Super League last season.

Marseille come into this game on the back of a mixed pre-season. Disappointing draws against FC Sion (1-1), Olympique Nimes (2-2), FC Thun (3-3) and a defeat against Benfica (0-2) were only helped by lasts weeks 2-1 victory over Ligue 1 team Evian. Other positives of the pre-season have come in the form that OM have so far managed to keep hold of prized assets such as Loic Remy, Andre Ayew and Cesar Azpilicueta. Although the loss of Didier Deschamps was met with great sorrow by most of the OM fans the quick turnaround in appointing a new man was seen as a positive, even if Elie Baup was a slightly ‘left-field’ decision.

Eskisehirspor, having been promoted back to Turkish football’s top flight for the 2008/09 season have improved season on season finishing first 11th, 7th and then 5th last season to achieve a Europa League placing. Before beating St. Johnstone 3-1 over 2 legs, Eskisehirspor had drawn a friendly against Dutch team AZ Alkmaar.


It is unlikely that Elie Baup will provide too many surprises with his starting line-up for this match. With Remy and Diawara not fit, Azpilicueta and N’Doumbou both on Olympic duties with Spain and Gabon respectively, Baup will most likely stick with the squad and formation he has used throughout the pre-season friendlies. The squad, as shown below, offers a great deal of attacking strength. The end of season form that Amalfitano and Valbuena demonstrated, along with Ayew’s natural ability and the commitment and desire that Gignac has shown pre-season will be a huge threat to Eskisehirspor, even without Loic Remy.

Against St. Johnstone, Eskisehirspor, showed some defensive frailties with high balls played into the box. Although this is not Gignac’s natural strength as a lone striker, crosses from Amalfitano from the right could allow Andre Ayew to demonstrate some of his aerial prowess. Valbuena should use his ground strength to continue to develop a solid partnership with APG, as Gignac should be more than able to hold his own against a tough Eskisehirspor defence.

Who are they?

In the first game against St. Johnstone, solid defending ensures that Eskisehirspor were limited to shots from distance which generally amounted to very little. A deep lying Karbore, combined with an improved defensive understanding between Mbia and Nkoulou could ensure that this trend is replicated. In fact Eskisehirspor’s only goals in the first leg came from deflected shots, something that it is hard to defend against, really, sometimes they just happen.

One name that Premier League fans may be familiar with is Diomansy Kamara. The former Portsmouth, West Brom and Fulham forward joined Eskisehirspor almost a year ago and has managed 15 goals in 34 appearances for them. Kamara was the clubs top-scorer last season, with Karendiz 2nd with 8. Behind those two a number of players picked up a handful of goals each, giving you an indication that they are not blessed in front of goal and that if you restrict Kamara and Karendiz, you restrict Eskisehirspor.


With such a varied pre-season, and knowing (admittedly) very little of the opposition the outcome of this game is difficult to predict. However, a mix of Eskisehirspor’s lack of experience, combined with the Champions League experience of most of the OM squad, should provide a great advantage for the Marseille team over two legs. I would expect a tentative, nervy encounter with both teams trying to retain possession early on rather than playing adventurous football. Eskisehirspor will be fully aware of the OM defensive frailties, and will look to exploit a high-lying defensive line attacking through the centre. Marseille’s best chance may be to drop the defensive line slightly deeper, and allow Amalfitano and Valbuena to use individual skill to create space for Andre Ayew and Gignac.

Predicted score: Eskisehirspor 1-1 Marseille

Odds ( correct at time of publication)

Eskisehirspor – 4.75

Draw – 3.50

Marseille – 1.75


Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)


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KuPS 16:30 Bursaspor

Arsenal Kyiv 17:00 Mura 05

Dila Gori 17:00 Anorthosis

APOEL 18:00 Aalesund

AIK 18:00 Lech Poznan

Ried 18:00 Legia Warszawa

Ruch Chorzoe 18:00 Viktoria Pizen

Kalmar 18:00 Young Boys

Tromso 18:00 Metalurh Donetsk

Bnei Yehuda 18:00 PAOK

Heerenveen 18:30 Rapid Burucesti

Steaua Burucesti 18:45 Spartak Trnava

Servette 18:45 Rosenborg

Twente 18:45 Mlada Boleslav

Asteras Tripolis 19:00 Maritimo

Gomel 19:00 Liverpool

Genk 19:00 Aktobe

Horsens 19:15 Elfsborg

Crvena Zvezda 19:30 Omonia Nicosia

Videoton 19:30 Gent

Dundee United 19:45 Dinamo Moskva

Kajduk Split 19:45 Internazionale

St Patraick’s 19:45 Hannover 96

Athletic Bilbao 20:00 Slaven Koprivnica

Sarajevo 20:00 Zeta

Vojvodina 20:00 Rapid Wien

Admira 20:05 Sparta Praha


Friendly: Evian 1v2 Marseille

28/07/12 – 19:00

Stade Jospeh Moynat, Thonon

Att: 2,027

Marseille: Mandanda – Fanni, Nkoulou, MBia, Morel – Kabore, Cheyrou – Amalfitano, Valbuena, A.Ayew – Gignac

Subs: J. Ayew ’70, Raspentino ’82, Omrani ‘89

Goals: A. Ayew ’15, J. Ayew ‘84

Marseille ended their pre-season campaign with a morale and confidence boosting win against Ligue 1 opposition. Evian impressed a great deal last season, looking solid after their promotion from Ligue 2, and never seemed to be in any danger of being relegated.

Elie Baup selected another strong starting 11, likely to be the team that starts in Marseille’s first competitive game in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round next week.

Marseille started well with Andre Ayew having the pick of the chances in the 14th minute with Laquait just managing to deny Ayew. But a minute later Ayew managed to find the back of the net flicking on a good cross from a Cheyrou free-kick.

Obviously nervy from throwing away leads in previous friendlies a failed offside trap allowed Khlifa to latch onto a through ball and slot past the advancing Mandanda on 25 minutes. Once again, although this is only a friendly it is something that the Marseille coaching staff and players must work on. We saw it time and time again last season and we have unfortunately witnessed it again in friendlies against supposedly ‘inferior’ opposition.

During the second half both teams looked for a winner. Valbuena managed to become more involved as the game progressed and inside the final 10 minutes some excellent trickery down the left saw the Evian defence make a rash challenge on him, winning OM a penalty. Replays would suggest that Valbuena went down rather easily, and this is something that he does on too regular a basis, that often sees officials and oppositions get fed up and therefore refuse to award legitimate free-kicks and penalties. However, Jordan Ayew stepped up to take the penalty and managed to send the ‘keeper the wrong way as he scored with great composure.

Although, once again, there were some worrying cracks in an otherwise positive Marseille performance, they still have 2 European qualifier games before the Ligue 1 season begins. A great deal could still change between now and that away trip to Reims. On the one side we could retain all of the current squad and perhaps make a much needed defence/defensive midfield signing, win both European games and be set up excellently to hit the ground running at the start of the Ligue 1 season. On the other hand, the club may receive offers too good to refuse for Azpilicueta, Remy/Gignac, suffer a shock defeat in the Europa League. With such a set of circumstances likely to see a drop in morale and confidence this could lead to a poor set of results at the beginning of the Ligue 1 season. Make no mistake the next few weeks are incredibly important for Marseille’s future over the next season or too.

Match Goals & Highlights

 Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Friendly: FC Thun 3v3 Marseille

25/7/12 – 20:30

Stade de la Fontenette, Carouge

Att: 1,508

Marseille: Mandanda – Fanni, NKoulou, MBia, Morel – Kabore, Cheyrou – Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, GIgnac

Subs: MBow ’65, Mango ’65, J. Ayew ’46, Abdullah ‘82

Goals: Amalfitano (2)  ’21 & ‘55, Reinmann (og) ’33

At the tiny Stade de la Fontenette, in fantastic pre-season weather, Marseille started well against Swiss Super League team. Gignac tested the Thun ‘keeper early on before MBia saw a header miss by inches. However, in the 18th minute, OM showed their now infamous defensive instabilities by allowing FC Thun an easy cross an free header that Magalhes easily converted. This seemed to shock OM into life as responded almost immediately with a goal. Amalfitano was played into the box, and after pausing to look for support, thrashed home a shot from close range to level the scores.

Marseill kept up the pressure with both Gignac and MBia going close before an Amalfitano cross was put past his own ‘keeper by Reinmann giving OM a 2-1 lead, that they kept until after halt-time.

Just after the half-way point a long Mandanda clearance was chased down by Gignac, and after a poor clearance, Amalfitano netted his second by chipping the ball into an empty goal.

Unfortunately Marseille could not hang on to their lead and allowed Thun 2 goals in the space of 4 minutes. A typical long ball played in behind the defence allowed Ferreira to net first before Schneuly scored after dispossessing the Marseille defence and beating Mandanda from 10 yards.

Although it is easy to play down friendly results, the worrying trend of conceding goals frighteningly similar to last season can surely not have escaped Elie Baup’s attention.

Goals & Highlights

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)