Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rennes 2-2 Marseille Match Report – 3 points slipped through our fingers…..

A late Steve Mandanda howler cost OM dearly at Le Stade Route de Lorient as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Rennes. Jordan Ayew’s late strike looked to have been enough to secure the 3 points, but a gaffe by the captain let in Romain Alessandrini to equalise. Overall, the game was a high tempo and exciting affair with not too much between either side. OM can certainly hold regrets though because they had the 3 points in their own hands, but literally let them slip through their gloves……

Early Rennes pressure, but OM  strike first

Rennes were definitely the team who started the match more on the front foot. As early as the first minute Alessandrini put in a dangerous looking cross and OM struggled to settle. Around the 10 minute mark, Danze should’ve scored when he was well placed in the middle, but headed over following a scrumptious Alessandrini cross. Moments later, OM had their first real chance when Gignac fired not too far over on the half volley. Rennes continued their impressive start with Feret shooting just wide, and Alessandrini firing over when he probably should’ve done better.

The visitors managed to ride the early storm though and Rennes had failed to make the most of their chances. OM soon settled down and started passing the ball nicely around the park. Both sides were generally playing to a high level and there was some nice skill and interchanges on show for everyone to see. Despite this, there had been relatively few chances, but OM took the lead about 10 mins before HT. Feret gave the ball away in his own half and N’Koulou sent a superb ball through to Valbuena. He in turn provided a great assist for Andre Ayew to slid the ball home nicely. The Ghanaian should’ve doubled OMs advantage just before the break but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot. Had he scored, it would’ve been a superb team goal because the build up play to the chance was beautiful.

Yet more corner problems……

Rennes started the 2nd period similar to how they did the first – on the front foot. OM had Mevlut Erding to thank for missing two massive opportunities within a fairly short space of time, he should’ve done better. The first Mandanda saved with his foot and the 2nd was just a mishit. The pressure was being applied by the hosts and Alessandrini was their main threat on the left hand side. He was very influential in this match and gave OM problems all night. It was to be his assist which set up the Rennes equaliser, and unsurprisingly it came from a corner. OM had managed to avoid suffering from their achilles heel against Montpellier last week, but it came back to haunt them here when Theophile Catherine headed home unmarked.

It seems to become a regular weekly theme in OM match reports – conceding from set pieces, or more specifically corners. In this instance Jordan Ayew will carry some of the blame, but this corner business is becoming all too commonplace now. The whole team has to take responsibility in addition to the backroom staff. Something is clearly going very wrong when preparing against set pieces. I could go into detail again here, issues such as why was the man on the near post not always situated there? There’s too much to mention but crucially in this instance it got Rennes an easy way back into the game. What followed was an uncomfortable 10 minutes or so where Rennes had plenty of energy and looked dangerous. Again, Alessandrini was the man pulling the strings for the hosts, often putting in some superb crosses.

OM back ahead….but then Mandanda howler

To OMs credit though, they wrestled back the initiative and it was excellent to see Elie Baup clearly ‘going for the win’ instead of being happy with a draw. Amalfitano was brought on in place of Cheyrou, an attacking move which was to prove dividends eventually. Gignac had a shot go wide, Andre Ayew headed just past the post, and Jordan had a shot blocked close to goal. OM were pilling on the pressure and eventually Rennes would crack. Great vision by Valbuena found Amalfitano on the right who crossed into the middle. Jordan Ayew could hardly miss as he turned the ball home giving OM a crucial lead with only 8 mins left in the match.

That should’ve been enough to see OM pick up the 3 points, but there was to be late drama at Le Stade Route de Lorient. Diallo sent in a cross-shot which surprised Mandanda at his near post. The OM captain failed to hold the ball and it deflected against the woodwork – right into the path of Alessandrini who made no mistake turning the ball home. The visitors might’ve had a penalty late on for a foul on Gignac, but the referee wasn’t interested. Instead, Elie Baup’s men were forced to settle for just a draw, when this really should’ve been all 3. He has saved Marseille many times before, but sadly there can be no doubt that failure to win here was on Steve Mandanda’s head.

Goodbye Yann M’Vila

Finally, as a side note and completely nothing to do with anything OM. It was sad but also nice to see Yann M’Vila at the end of the match being paraded around in front of the Rennes fans to say goodbye. I know that he’s had a fractious relationship with the Rennes fans over the last year, so it was nice to see them give him a good send off here. He has been with the club since he was 14 years old and unfortunately this is a typical example of ligue 1 failing to hold onto its best players. M’Vila is an absolute beast in my opinion, and last year one of the best players in the ligue without doubt. It’s a shame for Ligue 1 to continually lose such great talent, he will be a fine asset for Rubin Kazan.

Player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 3/10 – His mistake at the end cost OM bigtime, enough said.

Morel 4/10 – On the positive side, when going forwards he can be useful. Whilst he does do some good things at the back, the times when he makes mistakes can be costly.

N’Koulou 5/10 – Great pass to help set up the move leading to 1st goal. Defensively ok without being anything special

Mendes 4/10 – An improvement upon last week, but that was never going to be hard for him to achieve. I have my doubts about him at CDEF, he looks too raw and makes too many mistakes.

Fanni 5/10 – Made some good ventures going forwards. At the back he was adequate enough, although had problems with Alessandrini at times.

Barton 5/10 – Relatively quiet performance by him here, he kept things ticking along in midfield at times though.

Cheyrou 5/10 – Similar to Barton, kept things ticking along at times without being spectacular.

Valbuena 7/10 – OM’s best player here and grew as the match wore on. Supplied a great assist for the first and played a key part in the build up to the 2nd goal.

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Nice finish for the first goal, but should’ve scored more. He also made a couple of errors when defending set pieces.

Gignac 4/10 – Below par day for him. He missed chances and failed to look for a pass sometimes when instead was too greedy.

Jordan Ayew 5/10 – The positive is he scored again – but when placed more centrally as a striker. I’m convinced he just isn’t as effective as a right winger. His poor marking also cost OM a goal.

Amalfitano 6/10 -Came on as a sub for Cheyrou in the 72nd min and made a difference, supplied the assist for the 2nd goal.

Rennes player ratings :-

Costil 5/10
Mavinga 7/10
Kan Biyik 5/10
Theophile Catherine 6/10
Foulquier 4/10
Makoun 5/10
Alessandrini 8/10 – Man of the match
Danze 5/10
Feret 5/10
Diallo 5/10
Erding 3/10

Goals and highlight link

Steve (@Meatmansoccer)

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Coupe de France – Rouen v Marseille – Match Preview

Background

After a dramaticly disappointing late draw against Rennes on Saturday, Marseille head to 3rd tier Rouen in the Coupe de France round of 32 a week after they had originally turned up for the game! Having recently struggled against Sochaux, Marseille put in a fairly lacklustre performance against Montpellier and this was compounded with the performance that lead to Rennes’ draw. A win to take them into the next round of the cup to face psg will surely help keep OM on track in the 2nd half of the season. Their opponents, Rouen, arrive in this game having already dispatched Ligue 1 opposition in the form of AC Ajaccio, albeit via a penalty shoot out.

Marseille

Marseille must recover from the disappointing result last weekend in order to be at their best against Rouen. They may find this game against Rouen difficult as the underdogs will undoubtedly run themselves ragged in an attempt to gain victory over a slightly more illustrious side.

Elie Baup has shown his desire to succeed in this competition by taking an almost full strength squad made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes, Abdallah, Aloe, Barton, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Valbuena, Abdullah, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Gignac, Sougou and Anani. 

Morel is dropped from the travelling squad so Mendes may move to left back with Diawara returning to the centre of defence. It is highly likely that Sougou will make his OM debut at some point too.

With this being the case it would be a safe bet to suggest that Baup will opt to field his strongest starting 11, the same team that began against Montpellier and Rennes. This still allows for the addition of Amalfitano if needed later on. Baup will hope that the starting 11 will do enough within the first 60 minutes to rest players such as Gignac, Valbuena and Barton who generally cover a lot of ground in matches.

Rouen

Rouen currently sit 13th in the National division and have not played since 12th January as a result of gas-leaks and the inclement weather. In their 2 games this year they have dispatched Ajaccio from the Coupe de France and beaten 17th placed Uzéz Pont du Gard 3-0 in the ligue.

Rouen’s top scorer is Ousmane Cissokho, who plays as a defender. His 5 goals would suggest that set-pieces will be a real threat from Rouen (Marseille defence take note!). Across the rest of the squad they have a number of scorers, but all with relatively low goal counts: Dugimont (att 4), Jahier (att 4), Asbabou (mid 3) and Mboup (mid 3).

Summary

With Ajaccio going out at the hands of Wednesday’s opponents, along with Reims, Rennes, Lyon, Bastia and Valenciennes being knocked out by lower ligue opposition Marseille will be careful to avoid another ‘Quevilly’ incident. Marseille need this win, as they look to regain some of the momentum from the first half of the season. The loss at Sochaux and draw with Rennes could just be minor blips in an impressive season. A loss to Rouen could be the wheels coming off Marseille’s over-achieving season, let’s hope that isn’t the case.

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK)

Rennes v Marseille – Match Preview 26/1/13

Rennes v Marseille

Sat 26/01/13 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade de la Route de Lorient, Rennes

Ref – Tony Chapron

Background

With a gas leak in Rouen postponing Marseille’s Coupe de France game mid-week, OM will have had slightly longer than planned to prepare for a tough trip to 5th placed Rennes. Unfortunately the squad had already travelled to Rouen, so may not be as fresh as they could have been. Rennes have had a week to recover from their 2-0 ligue win over Bastia, as they were eliminated from the Coupe de France by RC Lens in the round of 64.

Marseille

Marseille are without the services of Kabore and Kadir, who are both involved with the African Cup of Nations. Modou Sougou, midweek signing from CFR Cluj, took part in training with the squad this week and is expected to play some part in the game.

As much as the pointless trip to Rouen was mid-week, it means that the last game OM played in was their 3-2 win over Montpellier, where Gignac netted a late winner. This poor performance that still resulted in a victory is sometimes what teams need to keep their form going.

The 18 man team is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Abdullah, Aloe, Abdullah, Barton, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Gignac, Sougou.

Rennes have often shown that they are weak in defending attacks from wide areas. The prevalence of Andre Ayew and Valbuena in the Montpellier match should ensure they see more success against Danze and Mavinga.

Barton may have to drop deep to support either ex-Rennes man Fanni, or Morel against the emphatic Alessandrini, who can dribble, pass and shoot, particulalrly when cutting in from the left. If Barton supports in the manner that he shown in the past, he will act as an extra body to push Alessandrini wide, and eliminate the risk of the shot from distance.  

Likely starting line-up: 4-2-3-1; Mandanda – Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel – Barton, Cheyrou – J. Ayew, Valbuena, A. Ayew – Gignac

 

Who Are They?

Rennes currently occupy 5th place in the ligue table, after finishing a respectable 6th at the end of the last campaign. After a poor start to the season, losing to Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille and Lorient, Rennes sat 18th after week 6. Since then, however, Rennes have stormed up the ligue table only failing to win 4 times from 15 games, against ASSE, Evian, Nice and Bordeaux.

Rennes have a wealth of talent at their disposal, despite the departure of the enigmatic Yann M’vila to Rubin Kazan this week. Frederic Antonetti’s main threats will undoubtedly come from the experienced Julien Feret, and the exciting talent of Romain Alessandrini. Feret is good in the air and will be likely to trouble OM’s nervous defence during set-peieces, if he is not taking them himself. He has already weighed in with 6 goals and 2 assists this season. Alessandrini has the same stats with 6 goals and 2 assists, with the only difference being that most of Alessandrini’s goals have been goal of the season contenders.

Just as Marseille can do with their 3 supporting attackers, Diallo, Feret and Alessandini can all change position throughout the game, posing a constant fresh threat to the whole of the defensive line.

Sumary

Last season Marseille benefited from an own goal, from Onykachi Apam, to help them to a 2-1 victory and they may need more of the same luck this season, because this will definitely be a tough game. Both teams pose similar attacking threats, and have the same ligue record in the last 4 games, WWLW. Rennes sit 12th in the home form tables whereas Marseille are joint top in away results, so the game looks as if it will be a tight affair, with a couple of goals to be expected. An individual error or moment of magic could well be the deciding factor in this game.

 

Predicted result: Rennes 1-2 Marseille

 

Selected odds (from Bet365.com, correct at time of publication):

Rennes: 2.75

Draw: 3.00

Marseille: 2.75

 

Weekend’s other Ligue 1 fixtures:

Valenciennes 0-2 Lyon

Evian v Ajaccio

Montpellier v Sochaux

Nancy v Lorient

Reims v Toulouse

Troyes v Brest

Saint-Etienne v Bastia

Nice v Bordeaux

psg v Lille

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK)

Marseille 3-2 Montpellier – smash and grab for OM thanks to late Gignac strike

At the end of the season, one can often look back upon defining moments which proved crucial to either the success or downfall of a side. Its quite possible that Andre Pierre Gignac’s goal in stoppage time here might prove to be one of those defining occasions for OM. It was a match in which they were generally far from their best and even at one stage seemingly down and out. However, they managed to come back to effectively steal 3 points thanks to a couple of late goals. At the end of the day, its results that matter not performances.

Strong wind affected this whole game at Le Stade Velodrome. Conditions were tricky for the players in that respect, but the pitch played fairly well. Overall, it was a game of fairly few chances, although not a defence orientated fixture. OM took the lead in the 13th minute thanks to an Andre Ayew header. Barton provided the assist, although quite how the linesman didn’t spot an offside was remarkable. OM definitely had some luck with this goal, but few inside the stadium were complaining.

Montpellier back in it, and defensive woes

The groans wouldn’t be too far away though when Herrera equalised not long afterwards. Credit must be given to the Montpellier striker for timing his run perfectly before rounding the ball past Mandanda into the net. However, from OMs point of view both N’Koulou and Mendes’ positioning was questionable, whilst Rod Fanni allowed the ball to be played through when he could’ve perhaps done better.

OM’s problems from corners nearly came back to haunt them half way through the first half. Romain Pitau shot just wide, the issue was a poorly cleared header by Andre Ayew. The Ghanaian wasn’t too far away from making it 2-1 just 10 minutes later though when he fizzed a shot just wide of the post. The main problem was that OM weren’t creating enough chances. Only Joey Barton and Andree Ayew were looking lively enough in attack, whilst the defence was looking worryingly error prone.

Visitors ahead and OM heads drop

After the break, more problems at the back nearly let in Montpellier, but fortunately Camara blazed over. The central defensive partnership of Mendes and N’Koulou just didn’t work all night. Both seemed to be out of position all too often and there was an apparent communication issue as well. Add into the mixer Jeremy Morel’s usual hit and miss display, in addition to Rod Fanni only having an average night and OM definitely had some big problems at the back. Montpellier broke clear following a corner and took the lead thanks to John Utaka. The whole defence was pretty much at fault for the goal, but Mendes and N’Koulou will once again take the brunt of the criticism.

What followed after this was a 25 minute period in which OM looked like a beaten side. Body language wasn’t good, passes were being misplaced and errors were being made all over the field. Montpellier really had a chance to put OM to the sword here, but they failed to do this or even create that many chances. It just didn’t feel like OM were going to get back into the match, but somehow they found the mental resolve to draw level. Gignac slid the ball nicely to Andre, he crossed and Jordan was there to slide the ball home in the middle. It might not have been deserved but the hosts had found a way to make it 2-2. Now it was a different ball game and Elie Baup’s men had their mojo back.

Late drama and sensational tunaround

The final 10 minutes were all OM domination and Montpellier were the side who seemed rattled. There was more intensity, fire, energy and belief from the hosts, they seemed desperate to find a winning goal. Sometimes they were guilty of trying too hard, or trying to be too fancy when all they needed to do was to play a simple game. But into stoppage time OM were given a lifeline by Daniel Congre who inexplicably tried a ridiculous fancy clearance which hit Gignac. The ball fell favourably but the hitman still had to finish from an angle. He hit the ball perfectly into the corner of the net and punished Montpellier for their mistake.

This was a seriously clutch finish. Gignac had hardly had a chance all night, but when this one big occasion came his way, he made sure not to miss. OM had somehow managed to turn this match on its head out of nowhere. They had generally played poorly, but managed to find a way to get the 3 points. There is an old saying about teams who have the habit of doing this……….

Player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 4/10 – Can’t be blamed for any of the goals, but his overall performance was fairly shaky. Only really made one good save in the whole match.

Fanni 4/10 – The best of the defenders, but he only played to an average level. Contributed more in attack than he did against Sochaux, which was pleasing to see.

N’Koulou 2/10 – This has to be his worst performance of the season by a long way. He was terrible here and can be partially blamed for both goals, in addition to making errors which could’ve cost more. Whether or not Mendes dragged him down or not I’m not sure, but he didn’t have a good game.

Mendes 2/10 – He played slightly worse than N’Koulou and many will blame him for the Cameroonian’s poor display. Mendes was just caught out of position too much or misplaced too many passes. Not an encouraging display and id be surprised if he keeps his place in the team after this.

Morel 3/10 – Yet again below par and made some sloppy mistakes. Failed to contribute much in attack either.

Cheyrou 3/10 – Quite rightly subbed off after about an hour. He didn’t do much all day really. Never got into the game and whilst he didn’t cost OM with anything, much more is needed from a central midfielder.

Barton 7/10 – OMs best player in the first half, he ran out of steam a bit after the break. His passing was sharp, tackling and energy levels were also impressive. Provided another assist and raised his level after a disappointing display against Sochaux.

Valbuena 5/10 – Wasn’t in the game in the first half but improved after the break. He wasn’t special or anything here, but he stringed together a few nice moves and his pass late on was crucial for the winning goal.

Jordan Ayew 5/10 – Played as a right winger for an hour and clearly this isn’t his best position. Central striker is where he is more at home and he showed his predatory instincts by equalising.

Andre Ayew 8/10 – OM’s best player here and MOM. Scored a goal, assisted another and generally had an excellent game in which he made a real difference. I’ve been waiting for him to finally stand up and be counted this season, this was a step in the right direction.

Gignac 7/10 – Not as influential as normal, but has to be given enormous credit for scoring the winning goal right at the end. That goal could prove to be massive in the context of OMs season.

Marseille v Montpellier – Match Preview 20/01/2013

Marseille welcome defending champions Montpellier to le Stade Velodrome for what should be a spicy south coast derby match live on Canal+. OM didn’t start their 2013 ligue campaign very well and they lost badly 1-3 away to Sochaux last weekend. Elie Baup’s men are now situated down in 3rd position on 38pts, although PSG’s draw last weekend and Lyon’s 0-0 at home to Evian last night have been a surprising welcome boost. OM know that victory here would move them just 1 point off the top of the table, so the incentive is there to work their way back upwards again.

Montpellier travel here on the back of a 2-0 home win against Lorient last weekend, but they fell to a defeat by the same scoreline away to Rennes in the midweek Coupe de la Ligue. That loss was a major blow for Rene Girard’s men who look destined for just midtable mediocrity this season following a poor start to the campaign. The visitors don’t actually come here in the worst of ligue form and have won 5 of their last 7 ligue 1 fixtures. But most of their problems have been on the road, especially facing bigger teams.

OM meanwhile, have definitely had home issues. For some reason they have failed to play particularly well in front of their own fans this season, its difficult to know exactly why. They have only won 2 of their last 5 at the Velodrome, and both of those were unconvincing 1-0s against Sainte and Lille. With the exception of a couple of horror shows like the VA result, or Sochaux last weekend, Baup’s boys have seemed far more confident and comfortable on their travels.

Tactically, one of the big issues that OM have is facing teams who counter attack at the Velodrome. Since early November, sides like Lyon, Lorient, Lille and Sainte have all employed a counter attacking philosophy, and whilst not all have gone home with some points, they at least played very well and showed up OM’s deficiencies. There is no doubt that Marseille are more comfortable facing defensive sides who prefer to play a slower tempo of game. Baup would probably prefer an outfit come here and literally ‘park the bus’ rather than trying to be more attacking. That wont be the case with Montpellier, although they are fortunately a side who have struggled to know their own identity at times this season and who have undergone moments of crisis and low confidence.

Tactics and formation

Marseille

Marseille should employ an attack minded 4-2-3-1 here. Barton and Cheyrou will likely be used as box to box midfielders, with neither employed in much of an anchor role. Valbuena, as ever, will roam around from his AMID spot and pop up in a range of attacking positions. The Ayew’s will likely retain their place in the team, although Amalfitano could be an option on the right wing if Baup prefers. The real question marks are in defence. Baup has come out and supported under fire Jermey Morel this week, which makes me think he will retain his spot at LDEF. However, the coach also revealed he would like to get Lucas Mendes into the team if possible. He could start instead of Diawara who looked poor against Sochaux and he’s also carrying a slight injury. So overall, my prediction is that the central defensive partnership will be Mendes and Nkoulou.

OM FORMATION

Montpellier

They travel here with a depleted squad, and one which is also going to have to recover from the letdown of a midweek CDL defeat in both a physical and mental way. The visitors are especially depleted in midfield where a number of players are missing – Estrada, Saihi, Marveaux, Stambouli. Right back Gary Bocaly is still on the sidelines too along with the long term Ait Fana. El Kaoutari is away on African Nations duty with Belhanda. Montpellier will have to make do with the ageing dinosaur Romain Pitau and rookie Bryan Dabo to compete for them in the middle of the park, which will be a worry for their fans. MHSC do still have a decent looking defence on paper though, and their attack force cant be underestimated despite the loss of Belhanda. Girard likes a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 variation of formation and I predict he will use the same XI that beat Lorient last week, except Pitau comes in for the injured Estrada.

MONTPELLIER FORMATION

Key Battle

The key battleground area in this match is undoubtedly midfield. This could be the sort of match in which the likes of Joey Barton and Bruno Cheyrou completely dominate proceedings. No disrespect, but I would fully expect them both to overpower the likes of Pitau & Dabo, or whoever else plays in that position. I have seen how Montpellier desperately struggled when light on midfielders against both Lyon and Lille, its affected them badly and this is a factor which cant be underestimated.

Analysis and prediction

Marseille are odds on favourites for this match with the bookies. At first glance, this price seems relatively poor, but when you delve into more detail, its clear to see OM have a number of things to their advantage. Firstly, they’ve had a full week to recover since their last match. Compare this to Montpellier who have a depleted squad riddled with injuries at the moment and who played on Wednesday night away to Rennes in a cup semi final. OM have a big physical advantage in this match and I also think they have a mental one. Everyone will be desperate to return to winning ways following the embarrassment of Sochaux last weekend. I think everyone will give just that little bit more extra motivation which will be crucial. Montpellier of course will be desperate to get a result here too, but can they recover mentally after such a let down of losing a cup semi final? I’m not so sure they‘ll be able to.

Under normal circumstances a draw facing Montpellier home or away wouldn’t be the worst result in football. However, in this instance I’d be disappointed if OM didn’t pocket the 3 points, it’s a great opportunity and time to face MHSC which they cant let slip by. I’m confident OM will recognise this and obtain victory, this feels like a very favourable match-up at the moment..

Prediction :- Marseille 3-1 Montpellier

Sochaux 3-1 OM – visitors in poor display at wintry Stade Bonnal

Marseille’s 2013 ligue campaign got off to a poor start as they went down to a 1-3 away defeat against Sochaux. In a game which was played in harsh wintry conditions, the south coast outfit failed to adjust properly and it was Sochaux who got ‘stuck in’ more on their way to picking up 3 points. OM couldn’t even find a way to score against 10 men for over half an hour in the 2nd half, which summed up their evening.

The opening exchanges were fairly even and both teams seemed fairly lively. Valbuena and Gignac were most prominent for OM, with the former often roaming from position on either wing and putting in some good crosses. For Sochaux, Corchia looked dangerous on the right hand side and was giving Jeremy Morel a few problems.

OM struggle in the snow….and from set pieces again

Snow was falling form the skies at kick off, but around the 15 minute mark it became even heavier and was soon lining the pitch, making life difficult for the more technical players especially. Sochaux opened the scoring in the 15th minute thanks to a Privat header. Surprise surprise, the origin was from a corner as OM’s nightmares defending set pieces continued. Diawara was static and can be held party responsible for poor marking. But can someone please tell me why a man was on the back post and not at the front for an out swinging corner? To me, that just doesn’t make sense and had there been a man on the front post, the goal might’ve arguably been prevented.

Just 5 minutes later, OM looked a mess again from another set piece situation, but were saved by an offside flag. The first real chance for Elie Baup’s men came halfway through the first period when Jordan Ayew should’ve done better when well placed inside the area, but his shot was tame. Not long after this, Roudet nearly gifted the visitors an equaliser as his attempted clearance behind for a corner was a whisker away from the post. OM were then extremely close to making it 1-1 from that same resulting corner when Diawara crashed a header hit the post, and then subsequently the ball cleared off the line by Sauget.

 

Defensive howlers as Sochaux take control

Conditions at this stage of the game were poor and it was clear to see it suited Sochaux more because of this. Marseille just couldn’t adapt well enough in the snow, although they still looked arguably the most threatening team. The hosts grabbed a 2nd goal 5 minutes before HT though, which would prove to be a killer blow. The origin was from a free kick on the right hand side (quelle surprise!!!!!). The wall seemed to be lined up wrong and somehow the delivery forced Mandanda into making an instinctive save. Joey Barton was static on the rebound, losing his man Bakambu and the Sochaux winger finished well to make it 2-0.

The snow had stopped come the start of the 2nd period and the pitch swept looking in better condition. OM started the half just as they’d finished the previous one though – on the back foot. An innocuous looking cross was sent into the box and inexplicably Jeremy Morel scored a terrible own goal, diverting the ball past Mandanda. That made it 3-0 and was pretty much gamer over. To OM’s credit they didn’t give up though. Barton had a shot cleared off the line and the likes of Gignac and the Ayew’s showed more encouraging signs after the break. Jordan Ayew reduced the deficit in the 55th minute when his fizzing shot went straight through Pouplin’s gloves. I’ve seen worse keeper errors, but that goal is definitely on his head as far as Sochaux fans are concerned.

 

Lopy red card, but OM can’t take advantage

OM were given a major lifeline on the hour mark when Lopy was sent off for a 2nd bookable offence. He could have no complaints, both fouls were deserving of yellows, and indeed I’ve even seen reds given for his latter tackle on Gignac. Marseille had impetus following this dismissal and could’ve pulled another back not long afterwards, but N’Koulou’s header came back off the post. Gignac had another headed opportunity a minute later and it seemed as though the Mediterranean giants were really knocking on the door, possibly on their way to producing a great comeback.

But they failed to make the extra man count and played disappointingly in the last 20 minutes. Morel had a decent volley saved on the 70’ mark but they failed to create anything else of substantiability until the final stages of the encounter. It was Sochaux who should’ve made it 4-1 actually, but Mandanda did well to save Butin’s effort. Fanni headed just wide and Mendes hit the post for OM in stoppage time, but by then it would’ve been too late anyway for the visitors. They had remarkably hit the woodwork 3 times, and this rather summed up their disappointing evening at Le Stade Bonnal.

Player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 5/10 – He conceded 3 times, but cant be held responsible for any of them really. Generally looked assured and even prevented the scoreline from being even more embarrassing for OM late on.

Morel 3/10 – A lot of OM fans might give him something like 1/10 here. The horrendous own goal is of course what everyone will remember. Admittedly he was very poor defensively in this match, often out of position. However, he did play much better from an offensive point of view, supported the attack well and put in some good crosses.

N’Koulou 5/10 – Compared to the rest of the defence he was ok enough, but there were issues at the back for OM here and he didn’t really step up to deal with the problems enough.

Diawara 4/10 – He is only saved from receiving a lower rating here because of his offensive contribution. He does cause problems when he goes forward, but defensively he was too static and below par. His poor concentration cost OM the first goal, and it all went downhill from there.

Fanni 5/10 Can’t really be blamed for too much and managed his side of the field fairly well. But he was too quiet and offered little going forwards in support.

Cheyrou 4/10 Never got into the game much and his set pieces were generally poor. Just didn’t get stuck in enough.

Barton 3/10 – Of all the OM players out there I expected him to adapt to snowy conditions really well. But he was shocking and really struggled in the first half making a number of poor passes. He cost OM the 2nd goal due to poor concentration and was overall far below par.

Valbuena 4/10 – Tried hard enough but these sort of conditions were never going to suit him in a million years. He struggled desperately to deal with the snow and cold. Misplaced too many passes and his crosses were generally poor.

Andre Ayew 3/10 – I didn’t even know he was on the field in the first half, he hardly got involved at all. After the break he improved, but he continues his fairly poor season in which much more was expected out of him.

Jordan Ayew 5/10 – Much like his brother, he was very quiet in the first half and missed a big chance to equalise. His rating is saved by scoring a decent goal, even if the keeper should’ve saved it. He woke up much more in the 2nd half.

Gignac 7/10 – OM’s best player on the night and deserved a goal. He was the only real player in attack who showed energy, drive, motivation and a determination to try and make something happen. Put in some nice crosses, and passes, on another day he might have easily found the net.

Sochaux team ratings :-

Pouplin 6/10
Corchia 8/10
Paybernes 6/10
Poujol 6/10
Sauget 8/10
Lopy 3/10
Bakambu 6/10
Mikari 4/10
Dias 6/10
Roudet 5/10
Privat 7/10

An honourable mention to David Suaget for a superb defensive performance. He made several key blocks and interceptions, it was a really good captains display.

But MOM here was Sebastien Corchia who caused OM loads of problems on the right hand side. Showed great energy and produced one hell of a wing back performance in both an offensive and defensive sense.

Sochaux v Marseille – Match Preview 13/01/13

Sochaux v Marseille

Sochaux v Marseille

Sun 13/01/13 – 20:00 (UK)

Stade Bonal, Montbeliard

Ref – Fredy Fautrel

Background

Having fininshed 2012 with 3 wins in a row, Marseille will look to start 2013 in a similar way as they take on 3rd from bottom club Sochaux. Solid wins, if not performances, before the winter break came against Bastia, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne. Wins have already came in the Coupe de France over Guingamp, and in a friendly against Moroccan team Kawkab. Sochaux’s last ligue win came back in November as they defeated Ajaccio, asince then they have drawn 2 and lost 4. Sochaux were also victorious in last weekends Coupe de France competition, beating CFA 2nd division side Thaon 1-0, although they did require an own goal to help them. This fixture last season turned out to be Didier Deschamps’ last game in charge as OM were defeated 0-1, Boudebouz with the only goal of the game.

Marseille

As they players enjoyed a week’s training camp in Morocco this week, Elie Baup has stated that OM will have to ‘bend over backwards to keep it (current form and ligue position) up’. He also made reference to OM’s away form, OM currently sit top of the away ligue table, but Baup knows that tough games away to psg, Lyon, Nice, Lille and Saint-Etienne still await the team.

Elie Baup has almost a full strength squad at his disposal. Nkoulou, Fanni and Jordan Ayew have all served their respective suspensions and are available for selection. Andre Ayew (hamstring), Lucas Mendes (thigh) and Morgan Amalfitano (knee) have all been declaired fit enough for the squad. The only absentees are Charles Kabore, Senah Mango and Foued Kadir who are all away on international duty in the ACoN. The 18 man team is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Fanni, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes, Morel, Abdullah, Barton, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, Jobello.

Sochaux have shown that they are often vulnerable to counter-attacks and attacks down the wings. These are also areas of Marseille’s game that they have shown significant strengths this season. If Amalfitano can regain some of his early season form he will provide a good threat against Roussillon, equally, A. Ayew has shown recently his strengths down the left flank and should look to get the most out of Corchia.

Important aspects of play will also come through Barton and Cheyrou’s link up play with Valbuena and Gignac. Gignac is already showing in a few games exactly what the squad missed without him during November having netted 3 times in 4 games since his return from injury.

Defensively Baup may look for consistensy and thus stay with the line-up shown below. But with Diawara back it is possible that Morel (or even Nkoulou) could be dropped after some shakey performances of late.

Likely starting line-up:

 Sochaux v Marseille formation

Who Are They?

Sochaux finished last season in 14th place, 4 points above the relegation zone. They also took 4 points from OM last season (2-2 at the Velodrome and 0-1 at Stade Bonal). Eric Hely’s side have struggled this season, and part of this is down to their home form. They have only picked up 8 points, 2nd worst in the Ligue, coming from wins over Troyes and Evian and impressive draws with Lyon and Lille.

Right-back, Sebastien Corchia, has performed consistently well for Sochaux. He likes to attack and will fancy his chances against Morel, as he looks to cross and provide service for Bakambu. Thank fully, Ryad Boudebouz is on international duty with Algeria so will be unable to claim another winner over OM. Another strength for Sochaux is ‘keeper Simon Pouplin. Despite Sochaux’s poor position in the defensive table (14th having conceded 29 goals), there is no doubt that this would be an awful lot worse if it wasn’t for some of the fine saves that Pouplin has pulled off this campaign.

Sumary

In Sochaux, Marseille are historical underdogs, having won only 13 times to Sochaux’s 30. The last few seasons have been a lost more even through with 3 Sochaux wins to 2 OM wins since 2008. Sochaux will hope to get as many points on the board early on to avoid the threat of relegation hanging over them, and if they are to do this, they must improve their home form. This will not be easy to do against the ligue’s best away side, and as a result my prediction is an OM win.

Predicted result: Sochaux 0-2 Marseille

 

Selected odds (from Bet365.com, correct at time of publication):

Sochaux: 5.00

Draw: 3.25

Marseille: 1.80

 

Weekend’s other Ligue 1 fixtures:

Saint-Etienne 2-2 Toulouse

psg 0-0 Ajaccio

Troyes 1v2 Lyon

Montpellier 2v0 Lorient

Rennes 0v2 Bordeaux

Nancy 2v2 Lille

Evian 0v2 Brest

Reims 1v2 Bastia

Nice v Valenciennes

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK)