Thur 20/09/12 – 18:00 (UK)
Sükrü Saracoglu Stadium, Kadiköy, Istanbull
Ref. – Ivan Bebek (Cro)
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.
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.
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)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
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