Thur 25/10/12 – 20:05 (UK)
Borussia Park, Monchengladbach
Ref. – Serge Gumienny (Bel.)
After an international break and a domestic game each the Europa League returns for Marseille and Borussia Monchengladbach on Thursday evening. Both teams have suffered 2 league defeats since their last Group C matches with OM coming unstuck by Valenciennes and Troyes, and Monchengladbach picking up their own embarrassing defeats at the hands of Paderborn and Werder Bremen. The Europa League will probably provide a suitable distraction from this slump in form and with 9 goals scored between them, this could be a thouroughly entertaining match.
The disappointment of losing to newly promoted Troyes on Sunday, was only equalled by the disappointment at the news that in form striker Andre-Pierre Gignac will be missing for a while with a broken foot. Worryingly, the defeat came from a performance that lacked any of the discipline, fortitude or desire the team had demonstrated against psg in the previous league game. A defeat can be taken on the chin, a defeat against a newly promoted team, who only had 2 points so far, who had conceded 19 times, who only had 3 recognised defenders available hurt like hell. With any luck, Elie Baup will have ‘discussed’ this with the team and needless to say he will be looking for a reaction from the team before they face Lyon this weekend.
Although the injury to APG will come as a blow to OM, it shouldn’t impact too greatly in this game, as it was expected that the fit again Loic Remy would start in European games. The squad that travelled to Germany consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Barton, Abdulah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, J. Ayew and Remy.
Some changes to the team will likely include Mendes replacing Morel and Barton replacing Kabore, as had been the case in the 5v1 humping of AEL in the 2nd Europa group game. Elie Baup will be expecting a huge improvement from Amalfitano too. After such a suberb season last time out, and starting well, dominating in games at the start of the season, and being one of the start players away at Fenerbahce, Amalfitano has been a missing link in recent games giving OM very little attacking width. His main contribution so far has been slapping psg’s Matuidi in a half-time scrap.
If Marseille wish to succeed in this game they need to play to their strengths and Monchengladbach’s weaknesses. This season these have shown to be teams attacking down the wings and through-balls. With Remy starting as the lone striker, his natural position allows him to run into the channels ahead of Andre Ayew or Amalfitano, and he can also run onto through-balls from Valbuena. Providing support is available to Remy, this is likely to be Marseille’s best threat on the ‘Gladbach goal.
Likely starting line-up and formation:
Who are they? –
After a string season last year, finishing 4th in the Bundesliga, ‘Gladbach have struggled at the start of this campaign and currently lie 13th after picking up only 2 wins from their first 8 games. Their 2 wins have came against Hoffenheim and Paderborn, 1 of which was a weak team last season, the other newly promoted from the 2nd Bundesliga.
It is important that Marseille don’t take anything for granted against ‘Gladbach though, as they well know that a team can struggle in the league and still perform well in Europa, as they themselves proved last year.
One of the ‘Gladbach’s stars this season has been attacking midfielder Juan Arango. The Venezuelan international has contributed 2 goals and 4 assists for his team this season. Arango is a good player on the ball and can play in team mates, as well as dribble or shoot if chances open up for him. The battle down OM’s right should be interesting as Abdallah has shown he can be a solid tackler, but he also likes to get forwards. Amalfitano can drop back and defend, however, has shown he is a bit of a hot-head and Arango is the type of player who can wind Amalfitano up. It might benefit if the covering in this position is supported by Barton, leaving Amalfitano to sit a little further up the pitch and exploit the space that Arango will leave.
If ‘Gladbach take the lead, it is likely that they will defend well to keep it, instead of pressing on for more. This will really test out the character of the Marseille squad, as there has been few times this season where they have shown they can fight back from a losing position, only managing to pick up draws against Fenerbahce and psg when they had been getting beat.
With both teams having a slight dip in form in recent weeks, both managers and sets of fans will be looking for a positive reaction from the players, which will hopefully result in an open attacking game with both teams playing to their attacking strengths, looking to make the most of the oppositions defensive weaknesses. Having drew away to Fenerbahce, Marseille are probably just the stronger side since ‘Gladbach were defeated by Fenebahce at home. If Marseille do pick up a win, they will look almost certain to qualify, whereas a defeat for ‘Gladbach makes them almost certain to be knocked out of the competition.
Predicted score: Borussia Monchengladbach 2v2 Marseille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)