Monthly Archives: March 2013

Nice v Marseille 31/03/13 – Match Preview

OGC Nice v Marseille

31/03/13

Stade du Ray, Nice

Referee: Laurent Duhamel

 

After an international break, Marseille return to action on Easter Sunday against Mediterranean neighbours Nice. Having stuttered with form and results since Christmas, allowing the ligue title to escape them and other teams to close in on a Champions League spot, OM need a strong end of season push. Nice have continued to impress all this season with Claude Puel’s men slowly but steadily climbing the table.

 

Elie Baup is without Abdallah for this game and although Amalfitano is training again he does not make the match day squad. The full squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Abergel, Barton, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Kadir, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Sougou, Gignac.

The inclusion of Cheyrou in a starting line up would help Barton link the defence and attack in a way that has been missing recently. Hopefully Sougou can continue with the form and threat that he had started to show before the break.

Expected starting line up:

Mandanda

Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel

Barton, Cheyrou

Sougou, Valbuena, A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Nice are without the suspended Eysseric along with the injured Bahoken and Traore. Pejcinovic and Cvitabich are both doubts.

With that in mind the likely starting line up for Nice is:

Ospina

Genovois, Civelli, Gomis, Kolodziejczak

Digard, Anin

Pied, Meriem, Bautheac

Bosetti

 

Nice are particularly strong at set pieces and are clinical with converting these chances. As they fften attacking down the middle, Barton and Cheyrou may drop central and deep to push Nice’ attackers wide at the last minute.

 

This game will undoubtedly be a tight fought affair and Marseille must be victorious if they are determined to qualify for the Champions League this season.

 

Predicted result: Nice 1v2 Marseille

 

 

 

 

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Marseille v Ajaccio – 15/03/13 – Match Preview

Fri 15/03/13 – 19:30 (UK – Replayed on ESPN 07:45 Sat)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Nicola Rainville

 

Background –

Marseille play on a rare Friday evening as they look to keep hold of 3rd place, taking on mid-table AC Ajaccio. A disciplined performance ensured that OM weren’t beaten by OL last Sunday although les Phoceens will be disappointed that they didn’t take all 3 points after dominating large parts of the game. A draw may have been fair on reflection, and it also takes the pressure off a 1st place finish, perhaps allowing OM to concentrate on keeping hold of a Champions League place. A Champions League place is imperative now given recent reports from within the camp that both Valbuena and Nkoulou would be more likely to leave without the promise of Champions League matches, and also given the recent publications from the excellent ‘Swiss Ramble’ showing the difference between Champions League and Europa League in terms of incoming revenue for French teams.

The 2 goals from Andre Ayew in lasts season’s week 11, 2-0 win for Marseille coincided with their dramatic mid-season turnaround, and given the history between the 2 teams Marseille certainly have the upper hand with 8 wins to Ajaccio’s 1 at the Stade Velodrome.

 

Marseille –

The bore-draw against Lyon could be seen as a negative, however, I would like to think of the positives that the team, players and fans could take from this. Defensively, Marseille were disciplined, giving away very little and allowing Lyon few clear-cut chancers on goal. Many in the media have criticised Marseille as becoming a ‘boring team’ (I still feel that Toulouse and Bordeaux wear that crown), but Elie Baup has managed well with what he has. Attacking wise, OM have looked far more interesting with the inclusion of Sougou along with the effervescent Valbuena. Defensively we have looked a little suspect throughout the season, but as Romao or Cheyrou continue to develop an ever improving partnership with Barton, it is surely only a matter of time before the possession play and link up between defensive and attack becomes a great deal more pleasing on the eye.

Elie Baup is still without Amalfitano (knee), but Morel and Cheyrou are still expected to feature despite recent knocks. The Full squad consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.

Given Ajaccio’s weaknesses it would seem this is another game to get Valbuena and Sougou running at the opposition defence. Attacking with pace has caused ACA a number of problems this season and OM should look to exploit this, particularly at home.

Likely starting line-up:

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Who are they? –

Former Marseille man Albert Emon brings his Ajaccio team to the Velodome hoping to pick up their first win in 8 years there. Having won the Ligue as OM’s striker in 71-72, he never managed to lift any silverware when in charge managing runners up spot and a French cup final spot too.

Emon will be without the suspended  Andre and Oliech, along with the injured Oberhausser and Pierazzi. Althou Chalme returns from suspension.

Ajaccio come into this game having lost 2 of their last 3 games and have won only 1 in their last 4, beating Lorient last week 1-0. They sit 12th in the away ligue tables having won only 2 of their 14 away games, drawing 6 and losing a further 6.

Ajaccio can be deadly on the counter attack, so this is something that OM must look out for if they keep the same high defensive line adopted in a number of the recent matches.  Set pieces have also challenged Ajaccio’s oppenents this season, and we don’t need to be reminded about Marseille’s weakness to these!

Likely Ajaccio line up and formation:

Ochoa

Lippini Zubar Poulard Bouhours

Mostefa Lasne

Belghazouani Cavalli Sammaritano

Mutu

 

Summary –

A win for Marseille will help keep them in position for a Champions League spot, which is perhaps realistically the best that can be hoped for this season. Given that Lyon have a tricky trip to Bastia and psg and Saint-Etienne could cancel each other out, this could be a great weekend for Marseille, however they need to start it well and that would come through a convincing win and performance.

 

Predicted score: Marseille 3-0 Ajaccio  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.44

Draw 4.00

Ajaccio 8.00

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Bastia v Lyon

Lille v Evian

Lorient v Brest

Montpellier v Troyes

Reims v Rennes

Sochaux v Valenciennes

Nancy v Nice

Toulouse v Bordeaux

Saint-Etienne v psg

Lyon 0-0 Marseille match report – physical battle ends goalless

No team could find a winner as the ‘Olympico’ fixture ended in a stalemate at Le Stade Gerland. It was a tactically enthralling match but devoid of major chances. Both teams cancelled each other out in what was a very committed display by each respective outfit. Both teams desperately needed all 3 points in order to keep up the pressure on PSG but overall a draw was definitely the fair result here.

Sougou given start

Following his impressive display last weekend, Sougou was given a starting spot by Elie Baup and he was arguably OM’s most dangerous player in the first half. Most of the danger OM created was on the right hand side where the ex Cluj man and Rod Fanni were linking up pretty well. The weak spot on Lyon’s defence was at right back due to the absence of Anthony Reveillere, but for some reason OM never seemed to target Dabo in this encounter.

Apart from the inclusion of Sougou, the OM line-up had a very familiar look about it and there were no surprises. Lyon lined up in a 4-3-3, which included a fairly defensive midfield which didn’t include a playmaker. Both Grenier and Gourcuff were on the bench and the hosts generally struggled to create anything much all night. Unsurprisingly, Lyon targeted Jeremy Morel and Lacazette caused him a few problems in the first half. However, the left back gradually adjusted and eventually was more than able to match the OL youngster.

Physical battle

You could tell that both teams knew the importance of this match. There was a clear focus, determination and fight from all of the players on the field. A defeat for either side here would’ve been a significant blow, but if either was to have any title ambitions then they needed to push on and take all 3 points. This was a very physical battle and some of the tackles flying in were excellent to see. If you like your tactical battles and smashmouth football then this was the sort of fixture you’d have enjoyed. However, for those who prefer open and flairy football then you needed to be looking elsewhere for your kicks.

In the 2nd half, OM arguably created the most dangerous chances. The closest they came was through an Andre Ayew header which passed very close to the post. But in general, both defences have to be given credit for shutting down most attacks. It was the sort of match in which one major error could’ve proved the difference between victory and defeat, but none came. A lot of energy was being used up by the players and it was impressive to see some players have such a strong physical engine.

Fear of defeat

As the last 10-15 mins unfolded, you could tell that both teams really wanted to open up and push hard for the 3 points. But ultimately, the ‘fear’ of defeat was just too much and it prevented the game from opening up. Sometimes if you really want success then you have to take a risk. This is where I will criticise Lyon because they were the home team and the onus was on them to take victory which would’ve kept the pressure on PSG. To some extent, OM can also be criticised for not ‘going for it’ as much as they could’ve, but realistically an away point at Lyon is a fairly good result under normal circumstances.

It was one of those matches where an early goal inside the first 20 mins could’ve really opened things up. I really feel that this was a fixture with great potential. If both teams were free from the mental pressure of not wanting to lose then we could’ve seen a completely different game. But at the end of the day the only winners tonight were PSG as they now have a 4 point gap to Lyon, and 7 to OM. With 10 games left to play, Elie Baup’s men must keep fighting hard for every point in order to claim a place in the top 3, or possibly even higher. Recent away performances have been encouraging, which is vital because trips to Nice and Lille are on the horizon soon. It would be nice if we could turn a few of these decent displays into goals and 3 points though………………..

 

OM player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 6/10 – With the exception of one poor clearance he had a good night. Strong command here and had very safe hands when called upon.

Morel 5/10 – Lacazette gave him a few problems early on, but he eventually settled into the match fairly well.

Mendes 5/10 – Had a fairly nervous first half, but improved after the break when he made a few crucial interceptions.

N’Koulou 6/10 – Looked pretty assured here and hardly put a foot wrong all night.

Fanni 6/10 – Defended smartly and offered himself in attack as much as he could. Final balls into the box could’ve been a little better.

Romao 5/10 Did a fairly solid job in the middle of the park and helped OM have a strong backbone in this area.

Barton 6/10 – Worked well with Romao in the middle and also helped set up a number of attacks.

Andre Ayew 5/10 – He probably should’ve worked Dabo more than he did, but remained a threat, especially in the air.

Sougou 6/10 – Had an impressive first half in which he was OM’s best player Quietened down after the break before being taken off for Jordan Ayew.

Valbuena 5/10 – Some nice moments as always but he was a frustrated man in this match. Struggled physically against some OL players.

Gignac 5/10 – Never really had a genuine chance but he fought hard for the cause upfront.

Jordan Ayew (sub, 73rd min) 5/10 – Was lively and gave the team some energy, maybe could’ve done more with the ball.

My Lyon player ratings :-

Vercoutre 5/10
Umtiti 6/10
Lovren 4/10
Bisevac 7/10
Dabo 5/10
Gonalons 6/10
Fofana 5/10
Malbranque 5/10
Lacazette 6/10
Lisandro 4/10
Gomis 4/10
Grenier (sub) 6/10

Man of the match – Bisevac.

Tough MOM to award here because nobody really stood out. But the OL centre back was very solid throughout, making a number of key tackles and blocks when it mattered.

 

Lyon v Marseille – 10/03/13 – Match Preview

 

OL v OM Olympico

Sun 10/03/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Gerland, Lyon

Ref. – Clement Turpin

 

Background –

2nd meets 3rd this Sunday in the race to see who can keep in touch with psg and stake their claim as genuine title contenders. Both teams have faltered when given the chance to keep in touch or extend a lead at the top this season, so there are a number of pressures with this game. A defeat for Marseille would surely end any lingering hopes of challenging for the title, whereas a defeat for Lyon would put them 5 points behind psg and it’s difficult to see the Parisians slipping up again this season. Of course, Marseille would also like to avenge the rather humiliating 1-4 defeat at the Stade Velodrome back in November.

Marseille –

After an excellent performance in Ligue 1’s ‘le classique’, OM were disappointing in the Coupe de France re-run, before putting in a more assured and convincing display against relegation strugglers Troyes last week. The 2 late goals that gave OM the win, suggest the match was more difficult than it was, the only downside being the amount of chances OM squandered.

After missing the last 3 weeks through injury, Elie Baup can welcome Benoit Cheyrou back to his squad, although he will find it difficult to break back into the starting 11 with January signing Alaixys Romao impressing in recent weeks. The squad that travelled to Lyon consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.

Expected line-up and formation: 

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Having been a direct replacement for Gignac in previous games, Sougou, was used as a right sided attacking midfielder when he came on against Troyes and was far more imposing in this position. He linked up well with Valbuena as Andre Ayew retreated into a deep holding role. His vision and pace directly resulted in both of Marseille’s goals and there is little doubt that without him, Marseille would not have won.

Although 4th in the defensive tables, Lyon do concede a number of attacking opportunities to their opponents so if OM can keep their shooting boots on then they may successfully find a way past Vercoutre. The link-up between Valbuena and Sougou will be key to this as the pair exploited the space left through Gignac’s drifting positioning and punished Troyes in a way Marseille have failed to do in recent games. A solid improving partnership between Barton and Romao/Cheyrou should also perform better against Malbranque than they did at the Velodrome too.

 

Who are they? –

Just as Marseille have surprised the media and fans alike this season, so have Lyon. Their efficient play has kept them towards the top of the table all season and despite the loss of high profile players before and during the season, youngsters and fringe players have stepped up admirably.

Just like Marseille, Lyon had a poor record at Stade Brest, and this continued last week as they could only leave Brittany with a single point after a 1-1 draw thanks to Makonda own goal.

Lyon are a very effective team and it is unlikely that focussing an attack on one discernible weakness would lead to success against them. Marseille will stand a far greater chance of victory through using all of their attacking options and arsenal against them. This will include; counter-attacks, width through aAyew and Sougou, individual skill through the centre through Valbuena, crosses and arial skills from Gignac etc. This along with far more resolute defending will give OM their best chance against Remi Garde’s men.

Lyon are likely to be without Gourcuff and Ghezzal, Reveillere is also a doubt. Gonalons and Fofana return after missing the Brest game. Likely line up and formation of Lyon:

Vercoutre

Dabo Bisevac Lovren Umtiti

Gonalons Fofana

Laczette Malbranque Lopez

Gomis

 

Summary –

A win in the ‘Olympico’ would do wonders for either team. OM have the most to lose from this game as a defeat would surely leave both Lyon and psg too far ahead to be caught this season. An OM win though, as well as retribution and revenge for the defeat earlier this season could give them the impetus and inspiration to put together an impressive end of season run and really push psg and Lyon all the way.

 

Predicted score: Lyon 1v2 Marseille  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Lyon 2.15

Draw 3.30

Marseille 3.40

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Rennes 2v2 Saint-Etienne

psg 2v1 Nancy

Brest 0v1 Toulouse

Valenciennes 1v3 Lille

Evian 5v1 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v0 Lorient

Troyes 4v2 Reims

Nice v Montpellier

Bordeaux v Bastia

Marseille v Troyes – 3/3/13 – Match Preview

Sun 03/03/13 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Laurent Duhamel

Background –

The meeting between Marseille and Troyes in week 9 could have been the turning point in Marseille’s season. Before the game they were top of the Ligue by 3 points and had only suffered 1 defeat after their best ever start to a season. During the game in Troyes, OM lost Gignac to a broken metatarsal, lost the game 0-1, and lost their place at the top of Ligue1 to psg, something they have failed to gain back since. The loss of Gignac had a huge impact on the team, only winning 2 of the 6 games he missed out on. Having lost out on 3rd place due to other results this weekend, hopefully Marseille can turn the end of their season round with a much needed win over Troyes. A week of back to back losses to psg and a cup exit is one thing. Losing out on 3rd place and a defeat to the ligue’s bottom club would be another!

 

Marseille –

Having matched and bettered psg for most of the Ligue game last Sunday, Elie Baup decided to name an unchanged team against psg’s much changed team for the Coupe de France game midweek. It may have been fatigue or disappointment but OM failed to get anywhere near psg’s much changed team in most departments. The concentration, effort and endeavour that the world had watched on Sunday evening, was nowhere to be seen in the cup. Defensive blunders were back, misplaced passes made a return and wayward shooting continued. A performance like that was never going to beat a reserve psg team, so improvements must be made against a team who will arrive in Marseille fighting for survival.

Benoit Cheyrou and Morgan Amalfitano are both still absent, though N’Diaye returns to the squad. The full squad available for selection consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, N’Diaye, Romao, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Gignac, J. Ayew and Sougou.

Many would have trouble arguing with a decision to change the entire defensive unit after a number of consistently poor and shaky performances from Mandanda, Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes and Morel, though how beneficial or suitable a defensive 5 of Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Romao and NDiaye would be remains to be seen. Seeing that Baup has often failed to see the obvious issues in defence all season (set piece marking, conceding from set-pieces and defensive leadership) it is probably safe to assume that the defence will remain unchanged.

Likely starting lineup: 4-2-3-1

Mandanda

Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel

Romao, Barton

Kadir, Valbuena, Andre Ayew

Gingac

 

Marseille should look to play on the break again, this is where they saw the most success against psg, and they should see a little more benefit from a slightly weaker opposition. Too often last week, OM’s counter play was rushed, and therefore crosses from Valbuena, Gignac or Kadir were trying to pick out only one other attacking player. If OM are to play this was the whole attacking unit needs to break with much more pace, this should not really be a problem for Valbuena, Kadir or Andre Ayew.

 

Who are they? –

After Nancy’s win over Sochaux yesterday, Troyes have dropped to the bottom of the Ligue 1 table and sit 7 points from safety. A shock win at Marseille would undoubtedly give them a huge lift ahead of playing Stade de Reims next week which could then put them only 1 point from safety with the advantage of a huge confidence boost in the process.

At present though they have the 2nd worst defensive record in the ligue, conceding 46 (Bastia have conceded 51), and one of the poorest attacking records too, 14th in the attacking table). Some of Troyes’ good attacking play this season has come from play down the wings. If Marseille allow Troyes to attack in this way, then they should ensure that Nkoulou and Mendes are in position to defend effectively.

Bahebeck and Camus are likely to be the two players working the wide positions for Troyes. Fanni and Morel must be careful to push their respective opponents wide and force them into crosses from difficult positions, allowing the rest of the OM team to take up suitable defensive positions. Allowing these two players time to dribble and possible cut inside would be most dangerous and is likely to give Troyes licence to shoot from distance and potentially score.

Along with the impressive Camus, Benjamin Nivet is sure to be the man to watch. Playing in a position just behind Yattara, Nivet has contributed 8 goals and 2 assists for Troyes so far. His ability to provide through his through balls means that if he is not closed down quickly, he is likely to cause problems. Either Barton or Romao must decide who is to press Nivet quickly. Once the ball has left Nivet, both players can drop deeper if needed, or push out and attack the defensive midfield line of Othon and Xavier. But it is important that Nivet is pressed immediately, this is something that did not happen with Beckham midweek and he was given the freedom to spray the ball around with ease, of course Beckham was playing deeper than Nivet will be expected to play, ensuring that Barton and Romao to not have to take up to advanced a position.

Possible Troyes line up (4-2-3-1):

Thuram

Faussurier Rincon Saunier N’Sakala

Othon Xavier

Bahebeck Nivet Camus

Yattara

 

Summary –

Having been in and out of the title race this season, last week’s defeat to psg, seemingly ruled OM out for good, however, with psg’s shock defeat at Reims this week, and Marseille’s game against Lyon next week, OM could end next Sunday only 2 points from top spot (I know there are a lot of variables in that, but what the hell!).

Marseille’s last 3 games against Troyes at the Velodrome have resulted in a Marseille 9-3 aggregate scorline, with Troyes winning only once in the last 7 meetings (0-1 in 2001). If Marseille want to ensure a Champions League qualification, which would be good progress for this squad, then they need to begin with a win over Troyes. This would put them 2 points clear of Saint-Etienne in 4th who face a tough game against Rennes next week.

 

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 Troyes

 

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.44

Draw 4.10

Troyes 8.00

 

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Montpellier 2-0 Rennes

Reims 1-0 psg

Bastia 1-0 Ajaccio

Toulouse 0-0 Evian

Sochaux 1-2 Nancy

Saint-Etienne 4-0 Nice

Lorient 1-1 Valenciennes

Brest v Lyon

Lille v Bordeaux

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)