Sun 25/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Delayed on ESPN)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref. – Laurent Duhamel
After a European expedition to be forgotten for both teams, Marseille and Lille may now feel that domestic competitions will take their full focus as they try and prise psg’s grip off the various trophies available. After weeks of poor luck with injuries, suspensions and results OM at least have the positive of welcoming back Loic Remy from injury and Joey Barton is in line to make his Ligue 1 debut.
The Marseille squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Fabri, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mbow, Morel, Cheyrou, Kabore, Barton, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Raspentino, J. Ayew, Remy and Jobello.
The worries over the fitness of Valbuena (back) and Nkoulou (groin) seem to have been overcautious as both were included in the official squad release. Both Mendes and Amalfitano miss out though so if Valbuena and Nkoulou suffer a set-back, the squad will be stretched even further!
The inclusion of Barton in the starting eleven is likely to give a much needed lift to the OM squad and fans alike, as Baup tries to re-discover some of the early season discipline and strength that gave OM so many victories. Barton can support the striking qualities of Remy, with his ability for lofted passes and crosses from wide and deep angles also likely to cause potential problems for Basa and Chedjou in central defence, although there are fitness concerns over the latter and David Rozenhal may deputise.
With out a doubt Marseille’s most dangerous forward player has been Valbuena in recent weeks, with some of his link-up play and close ball control just being a delight to watch. If he can keep himself on his feet more, he will really damage any team on his day, and if he attacks down the right avoiding Debuchy he is likely to see more success.
Likely starting line up:
Who are they? –
As mentioned earlier, Lille’s European form has been poor, and their early season Ligue form wasn’t much better. It took them until the 8th week to pick up their 2nd win, but since then their form has improved and so have their results. Last week’s defeat at the hands of Lorient can be taken with a pinch of salt as Lorient are one of those teams who can (and often do) beat anyone on their day.
Aurelien Chedjou has been Lille’s rock at times this season. His performances from centre back have resulted in 3 goals from 16 games so far. On the ground Remy may find it difficult to get past Chedjou, and may stand a better chance in aerial challenges. The class of Dubuchy should go without saying but Andre Ayew will have to play one of his best games of the season if he is to have much luck against him. Up-top, the enigmatic Nolan Roux can be an incredibly difficult striker to play against. He manages to get himself into good positions, albeit sometimes offside ones, and can lose defenders easily, although as his 3 goals from 12 appearances will tell you, he often lacks consistency.
With the some of the other top teams slipping up this weekend a god win for either team would keep them within touching distance of the Ligue 1 summit (OM would be joint 1st, whereas Lille would be 3 points behind that). Once again, Marseille will come up against a team that can be disciplined and difficult to break down, however, this is often when they have done well this season. Joey Barton may just be the man to light the blue touch paper and re-ignite Marseille’s season. If he is to do this, he will need to put in his best performance in an OM shirt. Tight game expected, though probably entertaining as it is not broadcast live.
Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 Lille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
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