Monthly Archives: September 2012

Marseille 1-0 Evian – 100% record maintained despite poor display

Marseille won their 6th consecutive game at home to Evian thanks to a slender 1-0 success. It was arguably OM’s worst performance of the season, but the most important thing was that they managed to pick up the 3 points. One reason why OM could’ve been flat was because they had just played out a hard 2-2 draw away in Turkey just a few days before.

Nevertheless, some squad rotation had taken place and the challenge of Evian wasn’t expected to be anything too great. Predictions by most of the pundits were that OM would complete an easy success against a side who had already sacked their manager this season. But it was clear early on that the hosts were feeling the after effects of the Europa League. Their general pace of game was slow, they lacked energy and there seemed to be a lack of drive physically.

Sometimes an exaggerated description of a game can say ‘it was a match of few chances’ But in this instance it really was quite literally the case and any sort of action was few and far between. Possession was mostly OM but they were doing absolutely nothing with it and didn’t look like breaking through. Amalfitano’s goal was about the only meaningful effort of the first half. He headed home a Valbuena free kick from close range to give OM the lead. From a similar situation not too long afterwards Amalfitano headed another chance just wide. As the half came to an end Evian started to show signs of life with some half dangerous situations, but they failed to create anything substantial.

The 2nd half was pretty much a non event. There was very little happening and OM were quite content just to hold onto their 1-0 lead. By this stage, the tiredness from midweek was starting to really take hold and they were struggling. Evian didn’t really offer much either though but they had the best opportunities of the period. Rabiu was played through the middle and should’ve scored, but Mandanda saved. The OM custodian made another fine save later on to deny a header which was heading into the top corner. But apart from those couple of scares, OM held on fairly comfortably to win.

They say when you play badly but still win, it’s a sign of a ‘champion’ This was definitely one of those instances where OM were fortunate to pick up the 3 points. But you cant play well every week and there were understandable reasons why they struggled here. The most important thing is that they picked up the 3 points and maintained their 100% record. Next up in the ligue is an away trip to Valenciennes before the big one, a home classico with PSG. One thing is certain, OM will definitely lead Ligue 1 heading into that encounter.

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Valenciennes v Marseille – Match Preview

Sun 30/09/12 – 13:00 (UK)

Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes

Ref. – Bartolomeu Varela

Background –

Marseille will hope to hit seventh heaven on Sunday as they travel north to Valenciennes looking to maintain their 100% record. A sole Amalfitano header saw Marseille scrape past Evian last week, as OM showed that they can win games ugly too this season. Valenciennes have picked up 2 wins this season, against Troyes on the opening day of the season, 1-0, and in week 3 with a 3-0 victory over Ajaccio. Since then they have lost to Lyon, picked up a draw against Bordeaux and lost away to Brest last week.

Marseille –

After a relatively poor performance against Evian last week, Elie Baup will hope for an improvement from Marseille this week against mid-table Valenciennes. Despite creating a number of chances, OM uncharacteristically failed to convert most against ETG, and were saved a number of times by Mandanda, as Evian almost managed to breech the OM hull.

Gignac retired early from training midweek with an ankle problem but looks to be fit again ahead of this game. Diawara is back training with the first team but is some way short of full match fitness. Abdallah will be out for around 3 weeks after suffering a thigh-strain against Evian that saw him withdrawn, visibly distraught, after only 20 minutes. Also during the week Loic Remy managed to apprehend a crook who tried to break into his car, he then took the criminal to the police station to have him arrested!

With another consistent defence and first 11, Baup should ensure that Marseille’s dominance of possession is a major influential factor against a Valenciennes team that often struggles to retain possession of the ball. There is very little to add about how Marseille should play against Valenciennes, that hasn’t already been mentioned in previous match previews this season. After all, individuals are playing well, playing effectively and supporting each other as a team and sit top of the ligue table, have won six out of six, have scored 5th most goals, have only conceded 1 goal and have even done it all in the fairest of ways as they sit top of the fair play league with only 6 yellow cards!

The team that travelled to Valenciennes is comprised of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Morel, Nkoulou, Mendes, Mbow, Mango, Kabore, Cheyrou, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Amalfitano, Raspentino, Gignac, Remy, J. Ayew.

Kabore will be the likely candidate to fill in in defence, with Abdullah taking his place in defensive midfield along with Cheyrou. If Gignac’s ankl has fully recovered we could probably expect a forward 4 of Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew and Gignac.

Who are they? –

Valenciennes managed a pretty stable 12th placed finish in Ligue 1 last campaign and currently sit 9th. The Evian game will have been good preparation for OM, as it can be argued that Valenciennes often play a direct style which is similar to what ETG had shown this season. The imposing central quartet of Ducourtoix, Sanchez, Le Tallec and Aboubakar, possess enough about them to cause OM’s central players a few headaches. Ducourtoix’s tackling and long ball ability combined with Aboubaker’s ability to latch onto through balls makes them quite a formidable pair. It may be beneficial for Fanni to use his height if the ball is lofted towards Le Tallec and Nkoulou to use his quicker pace and more assured feet to deal with Aboubaker. Of course, another strong display from Cheyrou and Kabore should eliminate any long/through balls making it through to the Valenciennes strikers.

If Valenciennes are to make it three home wins from four against Marseille, manager Daniel Sanchez will undoubtedly look to the experience of David Dacourtioux to help. Dacourtioux has been with les Athéniens since 2007 and has become an integral part of their team. His contribution to the team comes through his experience, playing sensibly and controlling the pace around him from a central position. Although he is not a player who provides a huge amount of assists, only 1 from this and last season combined, with his vision he can play in others who create clearer chances for team mates.

Summary –

With 6 very tough games to come in October in 3 different competitions it is important that Marseille keep up their excellent run of form. Europa League games against AEL Limassol and Borussia Monchengladbach, along with Ligue 1 games against psg, Troyes and Lyon before an away trip to psg in the Coupe de la Ligue will be a real test for OM, and could make or break their season. Despite the strengths Valenciennes posses, and the fact that they are at home, OM should be confident that this is a game that they can dominate, control and win. A little more conviction than the Evan game should ensure an OM victory.

Predicted score: Valenciennes 0v2 Marseille   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Valenciennes 3.40

Draw 3.10

Marseille 2.25

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Weekends other Ligue 1 games

Friday

Rennes 2v0 Lille

Saturday

psg 2v0 Sochaux

Evian 1v1 Lorient

Nice 2v2 Bastia

Troyes 0v2 Toulouse

Ajaccio 1v0 Brest

Nancy 0v2 Montpellier

Sunday

Saint-Etienne v Reims

Lyon v Bordeaux

Coupe de la Ligue Draw

After the midweek set of matches the draw was made on Wednesday evening for the next round of the Coupe de la Ligue, and it certainly did not disappoint for those who were eagerly waiting to see if Marseille could make it an unprecedented 4 titles in a row in the competition. Marseille were drawn away to psg in what was surely the pick of the round.
The game will be played in Paris just over 3 weeks after the two teams meet in Marseille in the Ligue. psg will undoubtedly wish to stop Marseille from winning the trophy for the 4th time in row and will hope that they can effectively buy their own piece of history, just as they are trying in the Ligue.
Below is around up of all the Couoe de la Ligue games, which will be played over the 30th-31st October.

Montpellier v Bordeaux
Bastia v Auxerre
psg v OM
Monaco v Troyes
Lille v Toulouse
Rennes v Arles Avignon
Nice v Lyon
Sochaux v Saint-Etienne

Nancy win and Europa League draw, decent week for OM

Loving Lorraine

Marseille travelled to Lorraine looking to maintain their 100% record, but they had to do so without a number of players. Amalfitano and Barton were suspended, whilst Abdallah, Mendes, Remy were injured. It meant that youngster Rafine Abdullah was given a starting spot in the centre of midfield and he performed very well. To put a long story short, OM completely dominated this match and only losing 0-1 completely flattered Nancy. The visitors were clearly the most dominant side and should’ve won by at least a 2 or 3 goal margin, maybe by more!

Chances were plentiful and the main guilty party in the first half was Gignac. Augusts’ player of the month couldn’t miss in the first few weeks of the season, but it seemed like he needed target practice here because he was out of touch. He worked Assembe a couple of times to make good saves, but certainly should’ve scored at least one goal and was very wasteful. Andre Ayew had a shot cleared off the line by Muratori too as Nancy somehow hung on. Remarkably, the scoreline was 0-0 at HT and the hosts had yet to have a veritable chance!

The 2nd half started with a bad injury to Haidara who it took many minutes to be stretchered off. Funnily enough, his loss forced Nancy into a change of formation in
which they looked a bit better. But OM were still on top and took the lead thanks to an excellent Jordan Ayew diving header in the 52nd minute. Ironically, it was his brother Andre who supplied the cross form the left hand side. Finally OM had the goal they deserved, but Nancy responded fairly well and had a good 10-15 mins where they tried to get back into the game.

But truth be told, OM never really looked threatened though and at the other end they had chances to double their advantage but couldn’t take them. The closest Nancy came to equalising was through a mad scramble in the area which led to a goal-line clearance. The ‘old’ OM would have drawn or lost this match, but it seems under Elie Baup things are different. The one worry here was the lack of clinicality in front of goal, apart from that it was a very confident and pleasing performance.

Goal Video

Turkish trip

Four days later, Le Phoceen travelled to Istanbul to take on Fenebarche. Joey Barton made his first start for OM here and also N’Diaye was given a spot in the XI. Some general rotation had taken place and statistically Fenerbarce were favourites with the bookies. OM remarkably scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to rescue a point which seemed all but gone. Baup’s men dominated most of the match but somehow found themselves a couple of goals behind.

It was a virtual repeat of the Nancy game where OM missed chance after chance, expect this time they weren’t so fortunate at the other end and the Turks were clinical. Erkin gave them the lead on the half hour mark thanks to an angled volley which somehow slipped underneath Steve Mandanda. The custodian must shoulder some of the responsibility for conceding that goal, he knows he should’ve saved it really. Worst was to come in the 2nd half when Alex found himself completely unmarked in the middle and headed home to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute.

Under normal circumstances you’d think game over, but this OM team doesn’t know when its beaten. They kept knocking on the door and amazingly hit the woodwork 3 times in this match! But it did look like a lost cause until 7 minutes from the end some trickery by Valbuena opened up a gap for him in the box and he finished coolly. What followed was an intense period of OM pressure and they were desperate to get something out of the match. It didn’t look like it would come, but in the last minute of stoppage time Andre Ayew crashed home a header to ensure they went back home with a share of the spoils.

This means that Elie Baup is still unbeaten in a competitive match as OM coach.

So a couple of really good and encouraging performances last week for OM and they will hope to maintain their excellent start by beating Evian on Sunday. Then they get a well deserved week off before the grind of domestic and European action returns.

Goals & Highlights

Marseille v Evian – Preview

Sun 23/09/12 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Nicolas Rainville

Background –

Marseille will play their third game in the space of a week as they return to domestic action to face Evian. A hard fought victory against AS Nancy in week 5 kept up OM’s 100% record in the ligue, and a late fight-back against tough Turkish team Fenerbahce shows the team really does have the guts it they appeared to lack throughout last season. The opposition have had quite the opposite start to the season, losing 3 of their opening 4 games, although the 1-1 draw against Lyon and last week’s 3-0 defeat of Bastia will give Evian a much needed boost in confidence. Last week’s win, lifted Evian out of the early relegation zone and was Pascal Dupraz’s first game in charge of the team after they parted ways with Pablo Correa.

Marseille –

Having dominated possession and much of the mid-week Europa League game against Fenerbahce, Marseille entered the final 10 minutes of the game looking t a 2-0 defeat. Despite numerous chances, OM just hadn’t managed to find the goal and just as it seemed that OM would face their first defeat of the season some magic from Valbuena gave them a lifeline. Andre Ayew then completed a spectular comeback after meeting a corner and heading home. The look of joy from all on the pitch was a treat to watch, as well as the sounds of pleasure from an unashamedly biased French commentary team. Having spent so much of last season failing to show any signs of determination or fight, Marseille showed that they have that in abundance this season.

Other news from the game was that Joey Barton made a solid debut. Although he is still banned from domestic competitions for another 8 games, Europe will at least offer him some game time and will offer OM some variability in midfield. Loic Remy also made a promising return, completing just over 70 minutes.

After the inclusion and subsequent injury of NDiaye on Thursda evening, Elie Baup will be likely to revert to the same defensive line-up that have only conceded once in the ligue this season, with Kabore reclaiming his place at right-back, despite the positivity shown by Fanni in this position midweek. If fit, Abdullah will take his place in the defensive midfield position with Cheyrou and after being rested for most of the European game it would be no surprise if top-scoring, high in confidence Gignac returns to lead the line against Evian.

Only time will tell how Baup deals with the innevatble selection dilemma of Gignac or Remy. For most of the past season this would have been a no-brainer, however, because of Gignac’s tremendous start to the season it would seem incredibly unfair to drop him. At the same time, having been linked with many moves away, and OM managing to desperately hold on to him, Remy is not likely to be too keen to sit on the bench only making the odd European start. Keeping both players happy will be tough if they are both fit, leaving another option as starting both. This would, however, mean a shift in formation from the 4231 which has worked so effectively this season. This year the link-up play between defence and attack has been seemless, something the squad struggled with under Deschamps. A shift to a more rigid 442 would surely stifle what is often an attacking four (Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew and Gignac). The choice of the 2 defensive midfielders, Cheyrou and Abdullah/Barton/Kabore this season has also supported a rather fragile defence. The extra player in the centre has pushed other teams out wide more often, leaving them with little choice but to try and take on Fanni or Morel, something both players are actually very good at dealing with, or playing in crosses, something that Mandanda is very good at dealing with.

The inclusion of Abdallah and Mendes in the match-day squad will be relief to Baup, whose defensive choices were starting to become limited at best. They may feature at some point in the game, though it would be sensible of Baup to give the defence some stability and keep the same line-up that started against Nancy. The full squad consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Abdallah, Morel, Mbow, Mendes, Kabore, Abdullah, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew.

Likely starting line-up and formation:

Who are they? –

After promotion from Ligue 2, Evian managed a more than respectable 9th placed finish last season (1 place and 2 points ahead of OM). Their hard working mentality and often exciting counter-attacking play meant they were a difficult team to beat, particularly away from home, only losing 6 times on the road, compared to OM’s 10. This season though, Evian have struggled to recreate that style of play. Already this season 20 different players have started games for them (OM have 15 including Azpi and Mbia), hardly allowing a team lacking in confidence from defeats to start to build any form of relationship or understanding. Their swift counter-attacking play has not seemed as threatening this season either, often long balls forward, or through balls leading to their chances. This is something that OM’s defence have improved in dealing with this season.

As is often the case, a team’s form picks up when a new manager takes over and last week’s victory for Evian was no exception. Having said that, Dupraz’s impact was also shown in the manner of their victory over Bastia. Hints of some of the stylistic qualities in Evian’s play were creeping back in, and the team showed an immediate confidence in what they were doing.

Attacking-midfielder Cedric Barbosa is Evian’s one to watch. His 2 goals against Bastia, helped inspire ETG to their first victory of the season. The seasoned professional, whose career has taken him to Montpellier, Rennes and Troyes can be a threat down the left or through the centre. Although he isn’t the quickest of players, his passing accuracy and vision is what can cause other teams problems wherever he plays. If he starts on the left for Evian, Kabore would do well to push him towards the flanks, and as long as Fanni/Nkoulou track any runs by Sagbo or Khelifa, any through balls played by Barbosa should amount to very little. Barbosa also takes a mean set-piece, he hit a 20 yard free kick off the bar against Bastia, so a disciplined approach to defending and no silly tackles will help ensure this isn’t a problem.

In their defeats this season, Evia showed some vulnerability down the wings, again an area that OM have exploited well this season, particularly against Fenerbahce. Therefore when attacking, getting the ball to Amalfitano and Ayew will be a top priority. Valbuena can provide this link if the ball is played quickly up through the centre and also support the wide men if needed.

Summary –

This time last season, Marseille picked up their first win of the campaign over Evian at home, this time they are hoping that they can avoid a first defeat, or draw for that matter. With Lorient and PSG both playing what they would consider ‘winnable’ games against Nice and Bastia respectively, it is imperative that OM keep as much distance between themselves and the rest of the ligue as possible. If Evian had not recently changed managers, this may appear as a routine game. But the new coach, and talk of a European hangover, will hopefully ensure that OM do not become complaicent in this game.

Predicted score: Marseille 2-0 Evian  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.40

Draw 4.20

Evian 9.00

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Weekends other Ligue 1 games

Friday

Montpellier 1v1 Saint-Etienne

Saturday

Bastia 0v4 PSG

Reims 2v0 Nancy

Toulouse 2v2 Rennes

Brest 2v1 Valenciennes

Lorient 1v1 Nice

Sochaux 3v1 Troyes

Sunday

Bordeaux v Ajaccio

Lille v Lyon

Europa League: Fenerbahce v Marseille Preview

Thur 20/09/12 – 18:00 (UK)

Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium, Kadiköy, Istanbull

Ref. – Ivan Bebek (Cro)

Background –

Marseille return to European competition to face Turkish opposition for the second time this season in what will probably be the toughest of their Europa League Group C games, when they travel to face Fenerbahce on Thursday evening. Having finished 2nd in the Turkish Süper Lig last season, Fenerbahce currently sit 4th after four games picking up two wins and two draws. The Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium is guaranteed to provide an intense reception for OM as both teams will fancy themselves as potential Group C winners.

Marseille –

The big news for Marseille ahead of the game is that loan signing Joey Barton is in the squad that travelled to Turkey and with the absence of Abdullah from the travelling party, looks set to make his debut. Elie Baup clearly sees the Europa League as a competition that he would like to do well in, hence the full strength travelling party which contains: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Nkoulou, Ndiaye, Mbow, Mango, Morel, Kabore, Barton, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Raspentino, Remy, Gignac and J. Ayew.

With the continued enforced absence of DIawara along with the missing new signings Abdallah and Mendes, Baup will undoubtedly play with the same defensive line-up that kept a clean sheet last weekend against Nancy, with Kabore deputising at right-back and Fanni playing alongside the ever-present and ever-consistent Nkoulou.

The stage is set for Barton to start in what will be the kind of game and atmosphere he can thrive in. Slotting in in place of Abdullah, Barton will hope that he and Cheyrou can immediately strike up an understanding and positive working relationship. It will be important that these two defensive-midfielders do not play ‘in each-others’ pockets’ all game, being that they can both tackle well and play creative balls for team-mates. It will perhaps work best if both stick specifically to one side of the pitch, Barton the right and Cheyrou the left.

The only other selection problem for Baup will be who to play as his attacking threat. Having played excellently in Sunday’s 5th win in a row, he may opt to start Jordan Ayew as an attacking right sided midfielder with Amalfitano dropping to the bench. J. Ayew had a brilliant game against Nancy, running at defenders, playing astute through balls and crosses and getting himself into dangerous positions resulting in an excellent headed goal that give OM the win. The relationship that he and Gignac showed, complemented each other well, as Ayew filled the spaces in the centre that Gignac left as he drifted out wide. A starting berth for J. Ayew may be just rewards for a player who finally looks to have gotten his head down and matured in his approach to the game on and off the pitch.

Remy may be used as a late substitute and this could be coupled with a change in formation to 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 depending on how Baup feels the game is going. The continued concerns over his fitness mean that he is unlikely to start ahead of the in-form Gignac.

Likely starting line-up and formation:

Who are they? –

Fenerbahce are of course one of Turkey’s most famous and infamous teams. Although not blessed with a huge amount of silverware from European competitions, there is no doubt that Turkey and Fenerbahce in particular, is not a destination most European football clubs relish the opportunity to travel to. Having said that, if we look past the sterotypes and nostalgia of European competitions, Fenerbace are entering the game looking for their first home European win in 6 attempts. Fenerbache also, don’t have a fantastic record against French teams in Europe having only picked up 3 wins and 2 draws and have been defeated 10 times.

Marseille are likely to come up against some familiar faces. Former defender Jospeh Yobo along with Moussa Sow make up the players with physical experience either with or against Marseille. Alex, Dirk Kyt and Raul Meireles also make up the remaining well known faces in the squad.

Former Brazil international and captain, Alexsandro de Souza, or simply Alex will provide an experienced head for Fenerbahce and someone OM, particularly Cheyrou and Barton will have to keep a watchful eye on. Alex has already notched 4 goals in domestic cup competitions this season and has turned provider on other occasions too. Despite his age, 35, Alex will undoubtedly support the rest of his midfield and defence by tracking back. For this reason, OM may look to use counter-attacking football at times, using the distribution of Cheyrou and Barton, combined with the pace of J. Ayew and Valbuena to create chances for Gignac.

As the home team, Fenerbahce will undoubtedly look to keep hold of the ball and dominate possession. Providing they don’t create too many clear chances Marseille may well be happy with that, an away draw in the first group game would hardly be the worst result in the world. Such a style of play would also allow Cheyrou and Barton to drop deep and support the defence to ensure Fenerbache have to either shoot from distance, or work the ball out wide to then cross in to the centre, and Steve Mandanda would be happy with either of those situations.

Summary –

Despite what in theory should have been some tough games in Ligue 1 there is no doubt that Fenerbahce will provide Marseille with their toughest test of the season so far. A careful, yet not entirely defensive approach will help stifle the Turkish sides attacking threat and will also help silence what promises to be a passionate crowd. As said before, a draw in this game would probably be a good result and if Marseille manage a goal, this could provide them with 3 valuable points.

Predicted score: Fenerbahce 1v1 Marseille

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Fenerbahce 2.25

Draw 3.25

Marseille 3.20

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Other Europa League games

Group A

Young Boys v Livepool

Udinese v Anzhi

Group B

Hapoel Tel Aviv v Atletico Madrid

Plzen v Academica

Group C

AEL v Monchengladbach

Fenerbahce v Marseille

Group D

Maritimo v Newcastle United

Bordeaux v Brugge

Group E

Stuttgart v Steaua

Copenhagen v Molde

Group F

Dnipro v PSV

Napoli v AIK

Group G

Genk v Videoton

Sporting Lisbon v Basel

Group H

Inter v Rubin Kazan

Partizan v Neftci

Group I

Lyon v Sparta Prague

Athletic Bilbao v Hapoel Kiryat Shmona

Group J

Maribor v Panathanaikos

Tottenham v Lazio

Group K

Rapid Vienna v Rosenborg

Bayer Leverkusen v Metalist Kharkiv

Group L

Levante v Helsinborg

FC Twente v Hannover 96

AS Nancy v Marseille – Match Preview

Sun 16/09/12 – 20:00 (UK)

Stade Marcel Picot, Tomblaine, Nancy

Ref. – Philippe Kalt

Background –

Marseille return from the international break looking for a fifth straight ligue win against AS Nacy Lorraine. The squad will be looking to maintain their 100% record this season against a Nancy team who have only picked up one win so far, on the opening day of the season against Stade Brest. A draw should ensure that OM stay top of the table, but another win would guarantee they stay a minimum of 2 points ahead of Lyon and 6 ahead of PSG.

Marseille –

Already early in the season Marseille’s thread-bare squad is suffering as both Remy and Abdallah are major doubts (now confirmed absentees), Diawarra and Mendes are both still injured, and our returning internationals have come back ‘tired’, only training briefly with the squad on Friday and Amalfitano is suspended.

The doubt over Abdallah’s fitness may result in Fanni again dropping into the right-back birth and Kabore taking up a place in central defence alongside Nkoulou. This defenceive group, along with Jeremy Morel, managed commendably against Montpellier with Herrera, Utaka and Belhanda in week 3, so will hope they can cope against Nancy’s attacking threats.

The deep lying central midfield pairing will most likely consist of Benoit Cheyrou and Rafidine Abdullah, the latter perhaps getting his first Ligue 1 start after 3 solid substitute appearances. The rest of the team takes care of itself, and has been doing so very well thus far. The deliveries from Amalfitano and Valbuena for Gignac have so far been excellent. They have allowed APG to take up some excellent positions which have meant that in turn he has either taken chances himself, or provided opportunities for others to score, although the enforced absence of Amalfitano will mean that Jordan Ayew will probably have to chip in. The OM attacking line-up will be licking their lips at a chance to attack a team who have conceded, on average, more than a goal per game. A re-run of Marseille’s 3-1 victory here last season would satisfy most, with Valbuena, along with the departed Mbia and Lucho, neting that day.

The travelling squad consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Nkoulou, Morel, Andonian, Mbow, Mango, Kabore, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Raspentino, Ndoumbou, A. Ayew, Gignac, J. Ayew and Omrani.

Likely starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Mandanda – Fanni, Kabore, Nkoulou, Morel – Cheyrou, Abdullah – J. Ayew/Raspentino, Valbuena, A. Ayew – Gignac.

 

*Amalfitano should read J. Ayew/Raspentino

Who are they? –

Having finished last season, relatively safe in 11th (just 1 place behind Marseille remember!). Nancy, and former OM manager Jean Fernandez may be relatively satisfied with Nacy’s start to the season. There will be plenty of other teams who will lose to Toulouse and Lorient this season who will not pick up a draw away to Lille. Also, last season they had to wait until the 11th week of their season to register their first victory and they still managed well for the rest of the season.

Having only scored two goals so far this season, Nancy will look to add to that tally against a potentially weakened OM defence. Nancy would ordinarily look to star man Yohan Mollo to inspire their strike force. The current joint-top scorer only has one goal this season which came in the season opening victory against Brest, but unfortunately Molly is unlikely to feature through an injured shoulder. Nancy’s only other goal was Djamel Baker’s fantastic long-range strike against Lille. If goals are hard to come by for Nancy, they may look to limit Marseille’s attacking threat and keep the game as low scoring as possible, hoping they may score from a lucky break or counter attack.

Sebastien Puygrenier has had an impressive start for Nancy making invaluable blocks and clearances from his central defensive position. Despite Nancy shipping three goals against an impressive Lorient side, they are impressively astute at defending set-pieces, so Marseille may want to limit this attacking option. Instead, Marseille should focus on through balls, the type that Gignac has chased and either scored or set up scoring opportunities from. Nancy have also given away a number of set-peieces in dangerous areas, which would allow Cheyrou or even Fanni, suitable shooting options.

 

Summary –

Having lost two games in a row, Nancy will obviously be looking to bounce back against Marseille, but despite them being at home, Marseille’s current form should ensure they are strong enough to see off the north-eastern team. Despite the game being on artificial surface, Marseille’s usual game-plan of dominating possession should not be affected, and unless the conditions are wet, the ball may hold up well from any over-hit through balls to Gignac. Marseille should continue their winning streak and prove too strong for Nancy.

Predicted score: Nancy 1-3 Marseille

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Nancy 3.40

Draw 3.10

Marseille 2.25

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Weekend’s other games

Friday

PSG 2v0 Toulouse

Reims 3v1 Montpellier

Saturday

Troyes 1v1 Lille

Valenciennes 0v0 Bordeaux

Evian 3v0 Bastia

Nice 4v2 Brest

Saint-Etienne 0v1Sochaux

Sunday

Renes v Lorient

Lyon v Ajaccio