Europa League 2nd Leg Preview: Marseille (2v1) FC Sheriff

Europa League 4th Qualifying Round 2nd Leg

30/08/12 – (19:30 UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref: Kristinn Jakobsson (ISL)

Background –

Marseille will look to secure their place in the group stages of the Eurpoa league by avoiding a defeat at home against Moldovan side FC Sheriff Tiraspol. Marseille hold the advantage having won the away first leg 2-1, both goals coming from Jordan Ayew. As had been the case in the Eskisehirspor games, OM showed they had too much in the way of skill and experience for their opposition in the first leg, and Elie Baup will look for his team to demonstrate real professionalism and make sure of a comfortable win.

Marseille –

Since the first leg Marseille have lost the services of Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea, but signed Brazilian youngster Lucas Mendes, although he wasn’t registered in time to play. It also looks as though Stephane Mbia and Joey Barton may be switching teams within the next few days, as well as a host of other mooted transfers.

The squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Mango, Nkoulou, Morel, Mbow, Cheyrou, Kabore, A. Ayew, Amalfitano, Abdullah, Ndoumbou, Valbuena, J. Ayew, Gignac, Raspentino and Omrani.

The lack of Fanni through injury and Mbia through transfer leaves Baup with a dilemma of defensive players with only 4 recognised defenders in the match day squad, two of whom, Mango and Mbow have barely featured in senior squad. With this in mind, Baup may opt to draft Kabore into the centre of defence with Nkoulou andwith Mbow playing at right back. In the attack it could be expected that Jordan Ayew will be paired with the in-form Andre-Pierre Gignac as in the first leg. I would expect if the result is going OM’s way that Raspentino will gain some valuable playing time at some point. Andre Ayew may also be given some pitch time, possibly starting ahead of Valbuena.

Possible starting line-up: (4-4-2) Mandanda – Mbow, Nkoulou, Kabore, Morel – Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Abdullah, A. Ayew – J. Ayew, Gignac.


FC Sheriff –

As was the case quite often in the first leg, FC Sheriff may be content with allowing Marseille to retain possession of the ball, especially as they have the home advantage this time. This may mean that Sheriff set up with 5 in midfield to nullify any OM attacks, and make it difficult to get the ball to J. Ayew and Gignac. If this is their game plan they will be likely to play in the counter attack, and utilise set-pieces, again something that they did well in the first leg. Marseille will have to rely on the experience of Mandanda and Nkoulou to ensure the rest of the defensive group stay alert and don’t switch-off, perhaps gifting Sheriff an easy chance of a vital away goal.

Summary –

As they showed in the 3rd Qualifying round against Eskisehirspor, Marseille should have the strength to overcome, no disrespect intended, a slightly inferior opposition. The current run of form is something Baup and the playing squad will want to continue, no matter who the opposition is. An early goal for Marseille would help settle the nerves and allow OM to play a more free flowing game and experiment with some different players and tactics, something that depending on the outcome of this transfer window, could be needed.

Predicted score:  Marseille 3-1 FC Sheriff (4-2 agg.)

Odds (Bet365 correct at time of publication

Marseille – 1.20

Draw – 6.00

FC Sheriff – 15.00

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & Andrew_Js3)


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