Sun 4/11/12 – 13:00 (uk)
Stade Francois Coty, Ajaccio
Ref. – Alexandre Castro
As Marseille were given an impromptu weeks rest after extreme weather on the south-coast resulted in their ’Olympico’ game against Lyon being postponed, this weekend’s opponents, AC Ajaccio, will feel that they are in need of a week’s break after their exhilarating 4-4 draw away with Lorient. After OM’s recent dip in form, and Ajaccio’s indifferent start to the season, both teams will view this as a chance to get their season back on track.
Fresh on the disappointment of knowing they will not be crowned Coupe de la Ligue champions for a fourth successive season, OM will also be disappointed with the absence of Rod Fanni from this game after his mid-week sending off and Jordan Ayew’s absence against Bordeaux after picking up another booking. Some slightly positive news is that Diawara is seen as being fit again and has travelled to Corsica with the squad (although it remains to be seen if that would have been the case if Fanni had not been suspended). The full 18-man squad was is as follows: Mandanda, BracigliaNO, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Morel, Mendes, Diawara, Cheyrou, A. Ayew, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Mbow, Kabore, Valbuena, J. Ayew, Remy, Omrani, Raspentino.
Elie Baup will be unlikely to risk Diawara immediately and will start with a back four of Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes and Morel, much of whom have played together at some point already this season and will be seen as match fit. Getting the ball to Valbuena is a nescessity, being that he has often been the sole attacking threat in recent weeks with Amalfitano and Ayew performing below their best. Crosses and set-pieces will also give OM a good scoring chance, since they have now not scored for 3 games, as Remy has shown time and time again that he is good in the air.
Likely starting line-up and formation:
Who are they? –
Having safely avoided relegation in their first season back in Ligue 1, Ajaccio have struggled to get going this time out. Their decent home record last season, only defeated 5 times, has continued as they remain unbeaten at home and have picked up 2 of their 3 wins up their against Evian and Brest, while they also picked up respectable draws against psg and Bastia in the Corsican derby.
With the absence of Cavalli, surprisingly through a red card, Ajaccio will look to Ricardo Faty to help control their midfield. The 26 year old has made an impressive start to the season for Alex Dupont’s side. His defensive contribution has seen the Corsican outfit concede just over a goal per game on average. Faty’s presence in the centre of midfield will be another reason for OM to utilise the strengths of Amalfitano and Ayew down the wings, and will probably result in Valbuena picking up the ball off-centre. With Faty’s height, it will also be important to avaoid high balls into this central area and the defence must be very wary of him when defending set-pieces and corners.
Despite sitting in 14th, 9 points behind Marseille, this will be a difficult game for Marseille. Marseille have lost on all of their last 3 visits to the Stade Francois Coty with an aggregate score that reads ACA 6-1 OM! At this stage of the season a win is probably more beneficial for OM, especially with psgs’s defeat at the hands of Saint-Etienne meaning that an OM win would put them joint-top with the Parisian’s with a game in hand. Success in this game may depend on which Amalfitano and Ayew turn up. If the early season Amalfitano is present he could have a field day against Bouhours, who is likely to give away fouls and potential free-kicks in prime positions. Equally on the OM left, Ayew should find some joy against Fouseni Diawara, providing he is given the ball and looks to attack when in position.
Predicted score: Ajaccio 1v2 Marseille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Other Ligue 1 Fixtures:
Brest 2v0 Lorient
Psg 1v2 Saint-Etienne
Rennes 1v0 Reims
Valenciennes 3v1 Sochaux
Nice 2v1 Nancy
Troyes 1v1 Montpellier
Evian 0-2 Lille
Lyon v Bastia
Bordeaux v Toulouse