Sun 2/12/12 – 13:00 (UK) – Delayed on ESPN 22:45
Stade Francis-Le Ble
Ref. – Fredy Fautrel
In just over a week Marseille have experienced more highs and lows than an OM fan would expect. The disappointment of not qualifying for the Europa League group stages, followed by the home win over Lille, followed by that result against Lyon in the Olympico. A win on Sunday against Stade Brest, would go some-way to making up for those down points as it would take OM back to 2nd in the Ligue. Their opponents will be looking to pick up their 3rd win in5 matches and pull further away from the relegation zone and at the very least ensure their Ligue 1 safety for another season, whilst maintaining their excellent home record against OM, as they have never lost at home to them.
Marseille will need to regain the type of form that they were in as they defeated Ajaccio, 2-0, in early November. Ahead of that game Marseille had not won in 3 games and had a miserable record in Corsica. During that game, Marseille took the game to Ajaccio. They played in a disciplined manner, and had an excellent team ethic, as they fought for each other. All of these credentials and more, if they are to come back from Brittany with all 3 points, something no Marseille team has ever managed to do.
Other than the automatic suspension of Rod Fanni, through his red card against Lyon, there are no other expected absentees. Morgan Amalfitano will be back in Elie Baup’s plans, having served his 2 match ban for his altercation with Blaise Matuidi. The 18 man squad that travelled to Brest is: Mandanda, Fabri, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Morel, Mendes, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Barton, Valbuena, Raspentino, A. Ayew, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Remy, J. Ayew.
After their performances against Lyon mid-week, Diawara and Kabore in particular may be lucky to keep their starting places. Baup may feel that their performances have already been dealt with in house, and no more needs to be made of it, or he may decide that the availability of Mendes and Amalfitano means that he can shift some positions around and play to his teams’ strengths. It must be said that as effective as he was against Lille, Barton was very quiet against Lyon as a right sided midfielder, so he could drop into the centre of a 3 man midfield, with Amalfitano and Cheyrou flanking him. This would give an exceptional link between defence and attack, allowing OM to push forwards with 5 very attacking players. When defending, OM can immediately revert to a 4-2-3-1 if needed, whereby, Cheyrou and Barton drop deep, Valbuena and Ayew join Amalfitano as the ‘3’ and J. Ayew stays up-field. The flexibility of the squad should not be overlooked.
Likely starting line-up and formation:
Who are they? –
Finishing a meagre 3 points safe from relegation last season, Stade Brest have began this Ligue 1 campaign with a little more consistency. They remain unbeaten at home this campaign sitting joint 3rd in the home form guide, they finished 13th overall in the home form last season. Immediately it is obvious how difficult a game this will be for OM is, without factoring in their abysmal record at the Stade Francis-Le Ble.
Laundry Chauvin welcomes Mario Licka back into his team, but will be without the suspended Eden Ben-Basat who is suspended.
One of the reasons for Brest’s excellent home record this season has been their defensive reliability, only conceding a goal every 240 minutes on average. Part of this can be attributed to star defender Paul Baysse. His excellent no-nonesense approach has seen him save Brest on countless occasions this season. His strength in the air, may give the edge to Jordan Ayew in selection terms, giving OM, the opportunity to play the ball on the ground instead. Baysse will also be a man to watch during set plays, it is worth noting that he already has 2 goals to him name this season.
The lack of Ben-Basat will make life more difficult for Brest, but should they get a goal from a set piece, or any other means for that matter, then they are likely to be even more resilient defensively protecting that lead.
Last season, Marseille felt that they were hard done to, an early penalty and red-card decision wasn’t given, and as well as the referee to defeat they also had Steeve Elana in the opposition goal who simply refused to be beaten. This time there will be a different referee and different goalkeeper, although if OM play anywhere near as poorly as they did on Wednesday, it is difficult to see a different outcome. With Mendes, Amalfitano and Barton in the squad the team should have enough fight and spirit in them, and there is definitely enough strength in attacking positions to ensure that they trouble Thebaux in the Brest goal.
Predicted score: Brest 1-2 Marseille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Other Ligue 1 games:
Ajaccio 0-0 Saint-Etienne
Lyon 1-0 Montpellier
Nice 2-1 psg
Lille 0-0 Bastia
Evian 1-1 Nancy
Bordeaux 2-2 Sochaux
Troyes v Rennes
Lorient v Toulous
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)