Sun 30/09/12 – 13:00 (UK)
Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes
Ref. – Bartolomeu Varela
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.
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 Abdallah will be out for around 3 weeks after suffering a thigh-strain against Evian that saw him withdrawn, visibly distraught, after only 20 minutes.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.
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)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Weekends other Ligue 1 games
Rennes 2v0 Lille
psg 2v0 Sochaux
Evian 1v1 Lorient
Nice 2v2 Bastia
Troyes 0v2 Toulouse
Ajaccio 1v0 Brest
Nancy 0v2 Montpellier
Saint-Etienne v Reims
Lyon v Bordeaux