Sun 16/09/12 – 20:00 (UK)
Stade Marcel Picot, Tomblaine, Nancy
Ref. – Philippe Kalt
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.
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.
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)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Weekend’s other games
PSG 2v0 Toulouse
Reims 3v1 Montpellier
Troyes 1v1 Lille
Valenciennes 0v0 Bordeaux
Evian 3v0 Bastia
Nice 4v2 Brest
Renes v Lorient
Lyon v Ajaccio