Marseille v Lyon – ‘Olympico’ Preview

Sun 28/11/12 – 20:00 (UK) – Delayed on ESPN 9:45

Stade Velodrome

Ref. – Clement Turpin

Background –

Exactly 1 month after the game was originally due to take place Marseille take on Lyon as both teams have the opportunity to go top of the Ligue 1 table. Both teams form have faltered a little recently after strong starts to the season, although Lyon managed to continue their excellent form in the Europa League, qualifying for the knock-out stage with a game to spare, something OM didn’t manage. Regardless of tonight’s result one of the teams will knock psg off their perch. Because of this, there will be much more riding on this game than simply ‘bragging rights’ or ‘history’ as a victory for either team will confirm their title credentials.

Marseille –

In the last month Marseille have picked up 2 good wins in Ligue 1, away to Ajaccio, 2-0, and last week’s 1-0 home win over Lille. If Marseille perform with the discipline that they did in those 2 games then they have every chance of overcoming Olympic Lyonnais in the ‘Olympico’. Last season’s game saw Marseille race into a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back 2-2. This brought about an end to Marseille’s tremendous mid-season run of form that had seen them climb the table.

Marseille have no new injury concerns or absentees for this game. The 18 man squad consists of Mandanda, Fabri, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Morel, Mendes, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena,  A. Ayew, Remy, J. Ayew, Raspentino, Remy.

The starting line-up is likely to be the same as the 11 that started against Lille, with Diawara, Barton and J. Ayew keeping their places after impressive performance. Although he was caught of positions on a few occasions much of this might be down to the lack of starting football for Diawara this season. Barton’s delivery and tackles were among the best we have seen from him in a Marseille shirt and as he managed to have the ball in the net twice it would seem unfair to drop Jordan Ayew. Remy may make a late appearance as Baup tries to build up his fitness again to bring him into first 11 contention.

Having changed from the usual 4-2-3-1 formation used in the earlier part of the season, Baup will probably keep the 4-3-3 formation that worked so well against Lille. This formation allowed Barton to press forwards, and the team also maintained its width through Valbuena, while supporting Jordan Ayew with 2 secondary strikers.

Likely starting line-up and formation:

 

Who are they? –

Having finished 4th in Ligue 1 last season, many had feared for Remi Garde’s team this campaign. With losing Hugo Lloris, and also losing Cris, Pied, Cissokho and Kalstrom, Lyon’s squad looks quite bare. Thankfully for les Gones they managed to keep hold of Gomis, Bastos and Lopez, all of whom were linked with moves away. Ahead of this game Garde is missing Lopez, Briand and Lovren through injury and may choose expeirnece over youth with Reveillere and Bastos gaining starts despite only just returning from injury.

Mr. Consistent for Lyon this season has been Steed Malbranque. (In all honesty, that is not something I expected to write at any point this season, especially not for a team like Lyon). From what I have witnessed and from the stats and reviews, Malbranque has been a dominating force in the OL team. His composure and experience has shone through, and his ability to dictate the pace of the game has rarely been matched by any opposition. Lacking in speed, Malbranque manages to get into position early, allowing himself to either play in team-mates with accurate passes, or dribble with the ball. Because of his ‘low centre of gravity’ he can be very difficult to disposes and tackle.

In the midfield battle it may be up to Kabore to pick up Malbranque from his central position. Marseille need to be fully aware of the pace that Lyon can counter-attack with. Dropping deeper early, could actually help against a counter-attacking team. Although there is more space for the opposition to attack it allows the defenders to settle into a position and begin to push the attacking play out wide, away from the goal, allowing the midfield an opportunity to track-back into more central positions and defend against any crosses.

Summary –

Because of the position of both teams in the table it would be easy to argue that there is less pressure on these 2 sides collectively ahead of this game. No matter what the result, one of the teams will end the night 1st in the Ligue standings. Having said that, the benefits of a win do add pressure to the players. A win for OM and they go 3 points clear, Lyon would go 2 points clear with a win, and a draw would put OM 1 point clear and Lyon joint 2nd with psg. Unlike last year’s Coupe de la Ligue final, hopefully the pressures of the occasion will bring out the best of 2 teams eager to show that they are real title contenders and this ‘Olympico’ can be a real ‘classique’.

Predicted score: Marseille 2v2 Lyon   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 2.10

Draw 3.20

Lyon 3.60

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

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