Sun 18/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)
Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
Ref. – Lionel Jaffredo
With 3 minutes remaining against Mediterranean neighbours OGC Nice it looked like Marseille had banished their recent slump in form, when ex-OM man Abriel equalised and the game finished 2-2. Elie Baup directed veiled criticism at the team, citing a lack in concentration the reseason for the defeat and explaining that this was something he thought the team had managed to overcome. As he returns to his successful old stomping ground, Baup will have to make sure that there are no lapses in concentration or Bordeaux will punish les phocéens.
Along with the recent devastation of losing Andre-Pierre Gingac through injury, Loic Remy limped off against Nice after only 20 minutes. Ordinarily this would not be helpful for any team, but factor in the continued suspension of Joey Barton, Jordan Ayew’s ban and Amalfitano’s 2 match ban for his ridiculous bust-up with psg’s Matuidi and it is evident that the OM team really are down to the bare bones. Although the return of ex-Bordeaux man Diawara will be some comfort to Baup, he’s not likely to weigh-in with the kind of goals that APG, Remy, Ayew or Amalfitano can produce. An injury to Bracigliano has also prevented the back up ‘keeper from travelling with the squad.
Full team news to follow.
Who are they? –
Without a doubt one of the most (sursprisingly) consistent teams in Ligue 1 this calendar year have been Bordeaux. A 17 match unbeaten run was only recently halted by Newcastle United in the Europa League, and since then they have faltered only once, a 3-1 reverse at Bastia, and have consequently risen to within 2 points of the Ligue 1 summit. With no investment over the summer months and a number of squad players leaving, there are many similarities between how Bordeaux and Marseille prepared for the season.
The work-ethic of this Bordeaux team is one of their strong points, often seeming to swarm at the opposition when not in possession, and they can attack as a unit with frightening pace. 65% of goals for Bordeaux have come in the second half, this will need to be a time when Marseille are particularly focussed in order to avoid another Nice repeat.
The key player in whatever Bordeaux do is Polish international Ludovic Obraniak. The versatile midfielder has already netted 4 times this season and provided 3 assists. Given time Obraniak will hold onto the ball before setting through accurate passes for Jussie or Gouffran. Close him down and he can turn, dribble or pass his way out of trouble. Possibly the best way to combat Obraniak’s effectiveness will be to crowd the centre of midfield, forcing him out wide and therefore limiting his central passing opportunities. This will require the cooperation and team work of both central midfielders and the two players playing down either flank, of course whilst doing this they can’t afford to forget about the players they ought to be marking too.
Marseille’s last ligue victory at Bordeaux came in 1978, and on paper, despite OM’s high placing, it is difficult to imagine anything but that abysmal run continuing. With Marseille, however, anything is possible. Take the recent away win at Ajaccio for example. A nortoriously difficult place to visit and Marseille had a poor record there, but Baup set the team up to dominate the midfield and the players played with determinism and discipline that resulted in a comfortable 2-0 victory. NUFC, played much the same way against Bordeaux in the Europa League, pushing high up the pitch and leaving a huge gulf between the Bordeaux midfield and attack that led to few chances for the strikers. In the current context this may be OM’s most difficult game of the season and a draw would be seen as a good result.
Predicted score: Bordeaux 2v1 Marseille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Other Ligue 1 Fixtures
Lorient 2v0 Lille
psg v Rennes
Brest v Bastia
Valenciennes v Montpellier
Evian v Saint-Etienne
Ajaccio v Sochaux
Troyes v Nancy
Lyon v Reims
Nice v Toulouse