02/09/12 – 16:00 (UK)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref. – Olivier Thual
Marseille will look to maintain their 100% start to the Ligue 1 season against a Rennes team suffering from their worst start to a season in 6 years. Rennes have only picked up 3 points from their opening 3 games, coming from a 3-2 win over newly promoted Bastia last week. Their other two results were both 1-0 defeats at the hands of Lyon and Bordeaux, so perhaps it would be best not to write of Rennes just yet. Marseille take to the game after an uninspiring 0-0 draw against Moldovan side FC Sheriff in the Europa League qualifiers. Despite the poor performance, OM did have a number of players missing, and the squad will be likely to be on a high since they qualified for the Europa League group stages.
Having lost Cesar Azpilicueta and Stephane Mbia, Marseille’s defensive line has certainly taken a hit during the transfer window. Bringing in Kassim Abdallah from Sedan and Brazilian Lucas Mendes, may be sensible financially and when building for the future, however it remains to be seen how much it helps this season. Mendes will not feature this weekend, nor is new signing Joey Barton, however Abdallah may be handed his debut in order to allow Fanni to partner Nkoulou in the centre of defence. There were also doubts over Andre-Pierre Gignac who picked up a knock midweek, and Rod Fanni who missed the game midweek through injury, however both have been deemed fit enough to be included in the match-day squad.
The squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Abdallah, Fanni, Nkoulou, Morel, Mbow, Mango, Cheyrou, Kabore, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Raspentino, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Gignac, Remy and J. Ayew.
With the inclusion of Abdallah in the starting 11, Rennes may target this right flank as a weak spot. Rennes youngster Alessandrini, in particular, may focus on attacking this side and getting around Abdallah instead of cutting in where he would face Fanni or Nkoulou. It will therefore be important that those centre backs and Amalfitano support the debutant. Gignac will be likely to keep his starting place in Baup’s preferred 4-2-3-1, although if he has any problems with the knock picked up against FC Sheriff, expect him to be replaced quickly by Loic Remy.
Possible starting line-up:
Who are they? –
Frederic Antonetti had been linked with the vacant OM managers role before Elie Baup took over from the departed Didier Deschamps, and on Sunday he brings his Rennes team to a ground he could have called home. Rennes have managed to keep their key-players this transfer window, with midfielder Yann M’Villa particularly, gaining a great deal of interest from the UK. Antonetti will want to see another improvement from his team as they look to improve on last season’s 6th placed finish, coming agonisingly close to making it into the Europa League at the expense of Bordeaux.
Yann M’Villa is probably Rennes strongest player and was rightly touted by a number of high profile clubs this summer. The midfielder provides Rennes with and excellent central midfield, where he can control the game well. With M’Villa’s tackling and positional sense, along with his distribution, Marseille may want to make more of an effort to play down the wings than they did against Montpellier.
Once again, Marseille’s defensive midfielders should look to break up Rennes play, and push the ball wide. This is something that was mentioned in the Montpellier preview and Marseille managed this extremely effectively. Rennes have managed very few shots on goal this season, only 7 in their 3-2 win last week, and therefore not allowing them shooting opportunities is likely to stop Renes from picking up what would be a shock away win.
Rennes have looked suspect from set-piece situations, and although this isn’t typically a string point for Marseille, Gignac amongst others have shown that they can score this way.
With both teams desperate for a win, for very different reasons, the game is likely to be a close, cagey affair. The game is likely to be won in the midfield area with the battle between M’Villa, Pajot and the Marseille attackers becoming the main influential factor. At home, and with the current attacking strength that Marseille possess Marseille should have the strength to pull through and claim a fourth straight victory before the international break.
Predicted score: Marseille 2-1 Rennes
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Weekend’s other games
Lyon 3–2 Valenciennes
Bastia 0–3 Saint-Etienne
Brest 2–1 Troyes
Toulouse 1–1 Reims
Lorient 3–0 Nancy
Sochaux 1–3 Montpellier
Bordeaux – Nice
Lille – PSG