Monthly Archives: August 2013

Marseille – Monaco – 01/09/13 – Match Preview

01/09/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 4
Marseille – Monaco
Stade Velodrome, Marseille

As the only side in Ligue 1 with a 100% record, Marseille face their toughest test to date as they face the team that many expect to overtake OM into 2nd spot this season, AS Monaco. OM have had mixed performances so far, with exciting and entertaining football in patches against Guingamp and Evian, replaced by the hard work but dull and efficient performance against Valenciennes. The same can be said about our Mediterranean neighbours. They were clinical and efficient in the season opener against Bordeaux with 2 late goals, entertaining and excellent against Montpellier followed by dull and drab against Toulouse. Sunday’s game will be a clear indicator of the title credentials of either team.

Marseille

Gianelli Imbula who missed out on the game against Valenciennes, but has taken part in some training, is part of the squad and may start. The rest of the squad is expected to be the same, with Payet and Gignac’s confidence boosted with their inclusion in the French national squad for the upcoming internationals along with Mandanda and Valbuena. The late omission of Morel, means it is likely that Mendy will start again, having missed the last 2 games.

Diawara and Morel will be likely to keep their places in defence along with Nkoulou and Fanni. With keeping the same defensive unit for the 3rd game in a row, hopefully their increased understanding and communication with Mandanda will help keep the Monaco attackers at bay.

It is fair to say that Monaco have not yet really been tested since their return to Ligue 1. In their wins over Bordeaux and Montpellier, and goalless draw with Toulouse the apposition have only managed 9 shots on target (Bordeaux (6), Montpellier (3) Toulouse (0)). OM should offer a more clinical attack than those 3 teams, given that OM have averaged 6 shots on target per game so far giving a goal conversion rate of 33%. In other words, give Gignac and Payet chances to shoot and Marseille should score.

Full Marseille squad: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Nkoulou, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, J. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet, Khalifa.

Monaco

Claudio Renieri’s team have impressed most so far this season, particularly with how well their many signings have gelled. The quality of Monaco’s signings is not in question, but their ability to grind out a result when facing some of the ligue’s better teams has not yet been seen. Toulouse put up quite a fight and managed to stifle the Monaco creative play and attack, and under this pressure they failed to win. This type of siege mentality is often what awaits teams like psg and Marseille, and if they want to seriously challenge for the title then Monaco will need to find a way past teams.

Marseille will need to be wary of the Monaco set-pieces, with communication between Mandanda and his defence key. This communication has improved game by game, but is still well short of the discipline that saw them keep 7 clean sheets in a row last season.

The OM defence will need to decide how to mark. In previous games, it seems as though Reviere has enjoyed success through the space created by Falcao as the opposition defence have been more worried and preoccupied with the Columbian. OM should perhaps look at man-marking both Reviere and Falcao, and leave any further covering to Imbula/Cheyrou or Romao.

Full Monaco squad: Callard, Romero, Subasic, Abidal, Carvalho, Fabinho, Isimat-Mirin, Kurzawa, Raggi, Tisserand, Ferreria-Carrasco, Moutinho, Obbadi, Ocampos, Pi, Rodriguez, Toulalan, Falcao, Germain, Reviere. 

Summary
Marseille certainly have the history books with them in this fixture having won 20 to Moncao’s 9 at the Stade Velodrome, and OM have only lost 1 of the last 10 meetings between the 2 sides.  Joking aside the atmosphere may be an issue for Monaco. Many teams find the atmosphere at the Velodrome intimidating, and this crowd will certainly be the largest that the Monaco players have faced in Ligue 1 to date. As a result of the quality of players and the atmosphere, I feel that Marseille just have the edge in this fixture, but they will absolutely have to be at their best to overcome a very good Monaco side.  

Stats
Monaco have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 25 trips to the Velodrome.
Marseille are unbeaten in their last 9 home games.
Monaco are unbeaten in their last 12 away games.
50% of Monaco’s goals have come after the 80th minute.

 

Other Ligue 1 games
Sat 31st  
Evian – Lyon
psg – Guingamp
Sochaux – Ajaccio
Rennes – Lille
Reims – Nantes
Lorient – Valenciennes
Bastia – Toulouse
Sun 1st
Saint-Etienne – Bordeaux
Nice – Montpellier

 

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)

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Valenciennes 0-1 Marseille Match Report

A late Andre Pierre Gignac goal was the difference between the two sides at Le Stade de Hainaut. A draw would’ve probably been a fairer result but OM found a way to sneak all 3 points. This was generally a pretty tight match containing few clear cut chances. OM failed to exploit VAs potential weaknesses, especially in the 2nd half. The only change OM made was a forced one – Benoit Cheyrou in for the injured Gilbert Imbula. They lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, although the attacking quartet were very fluid and roamed around the field a lot. The first half contained relatively little action. In the 5th minute, Dimitri Payet had a shot deflected over the bar as OM generally had control of the game. They were given a massive scare mid-way through the period though when Bahebeck beat the offside trap and found himself all alone in the area. Fortunately for OM, he failed to control the ball properly and it was a massive let off. At the other end, Gignac should’ve scored just moments later when he lobbed just wide following a Penneteau cock up.

Marseille’s number 9 was very active in the 1st half and looking pretty sharp upfront. In the 25th minute he controlled well before unleashing a shot which passed wide of the post. OM were on top at this stage and Andre Ayew had a decent chance on the half hour mark, but his header was saved by Penneteau. The rest of the period went by without major incident, although just before the interval Mathieu Valbuena nearly scored a sensational goal, cracking a volley from over 30 yards out which passed just over the bar. 0-0 was a pretty fair reflection of the 1st half, although OM did appear to have more control and generally looked the more likely to make something happen.

Things weren’t so good after the break for Elie Baup’s men as they struggled to create chances. Valenciennes came into the game more and Mandanda made a good save to deny Bahebeck early on in the period. OM gradually improved and forced a succession of corners on the hour mark, but they couldn’t make their pressure pay off. What followed was a stalemate for about 20 mins before everything kicked back into life towards the end of the game. Mathieu Dossevi had a massive chance for VA but Mandanda saved well. On the rebound, Maor Melikson had an even bigger occasion but somehow fluffed the opportunity. The hosts had blown a massive chance to go ahead and OM would punish them just a few minutes later.

Slack marking from a corner allowed Andre Ayew a free header which Penneteau could only parry. Gignac, ever the poacher was on hand to convert and gave OM a 1-0 lead. With just 5 mins left it looked like OM had sneaked all 3 points. But VA should’ve had their share of the spoils and missed a humongous opportunity with not long left on the clock. A poor error from Nicola Nkoulou allowed Opa Nguette time and space at the back post, but he put his shot wide when it looked harder to miss! Saber Khelifa had come on for OM and he nearly scored what would’ve been a superb individual effort, but his late attempt was well saved by the keeper. That was to be the last piece of action as the final whistle was blown soon after. A very good and hard fought 3 points to pick up. This sort of victory is the sign of a good team who manages to find a way to win when not playing all that well.

Player ratings. Mandanda 6, Fanni 5, Diawara 6, Nkoulou 4, Morel 5, Romao 5, Cheyrou 5, Ayew 6, Valbuena 6, Payet 5, Gignac 7

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Valenciennes – Marseille – 24/08/13 – Match Preview

24/08/13 – 16:00 (UK – Replayed 25/08/13 08:00 on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 3
Valenciennes – Marseille
Stade du Hainault, Valenciennes

VAFC OM

After a fantastic start to the season and a 100% record, OM headed to bitter rivals* Valenciennes only to be humiliated in a 4-1 defeat. This is was happened in week 7 of Ligue 1 last year and Marseille will be keen to avoid a repeat of this abysmal performance. Marseille have again managed a 100% record, winning 2 from 2, Valenciennes have won one and lost one.

Marseille

Giannelli Imbula won’t feature, he was withdrawn at half-time against Evian with an ankle injury. Imbula thankfully returned to training on Thursday, although this was just a fitness session away from the rest of the squad, and it was decided he was not yet recovered enough to feature. 

Having played relatively well against Evian it looks increasingly likely that both Diawara and Morel will keep their starting places ahead of Mendes and Mendy. Failing a injury or suspension to either, we are in the situation where unless they play incredibly poorly, they are likely to keep their places, of course in a tight game a bad performance from either of those players could result in conceding a goal and losing, so for the benefit of the team, we may have to keep them in the 11!

The final new signing of the summer, Saber Khalifa, who missed the games against Guingamp and Evian is fit enough to make it into the squad, although it is not expected that he will start.

As obvious as it may sound, Payet, Valbuena and Andre Ayew should be the focus of OM’s attack. Valenciennes can be susceptible to attacks down the wings and often give away free kicks around the 18-yard box. The close link-up play between Payet/Valabuena and Gignac has been excellent so far this season and their skill and control should help them overcome a Valenciennes defence that conceded 53 goals last season.

Full Marseille team: Mandanda, Smaba, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Kadir, Romao, Valbuena, j. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet, Khalifa.

OM formation

Valenciennes

Daniel Sanchez’ team limped to the summer last season, only picking up 19 points from the final 19 games. They will be hoping to secure safety early this term though and push for a top-10 finish. This will be tough for VAFC though who lost Nicola Isimat Mirin (Monaco) and Gael Danic (Lyon). They have signed Bahebeck (psg), Chitu (Vitorul Constanta), Enza Yamissi (Troyes), Doumbia (Wolves), Novaes (Bastia). Out of these signings it is only striker Bahebeck, who is yet to open his scoring account for VAFC, who is most likely to start. Given his first performances he is likely to be involved in VAFC’s build up play and he set up one of the goals in their 3-0 win over Toulouse.

Rudy Mater has had an excellent start to the season. The right-back has pushed forwards helping with the VAFC attacks. As a result, 43% of Valenciennes’ attacks have come down the right this season. Interestingly, 46% of OM’s attacks have come down their left with Andre Ayew (not down the right with new signing Dimitri Payet). This should make for an interesting battle on the Marseille left side, with perhaps the successful team being the one that has the most success here.

Full Valenciennes squad: Novaes, Penneteau, Angoua, Lala, Nery, Mater, Traoré, Chitu, Da Silva, Dossevi, Doumbia, Ducourtioux, Kaboré, Melikson, Saez, Bahebeck, Le Tallec, Nguette.

VAFC Formation

Summary
After having to overcome the 1-4 defeat at the hands of Valenciennes last season in order to push psg close to the title, OM will need to make sure they don’t drop any points needlessly so early on in the season, especially given the start that title contenders Monaco have had. If OM keep their defence tighter, which they did improve in the Evian match, they should have enough in attack to ensure a win.

Stats
Marseille have only won 1 of their last 7 trips to VAFC.
Valenciennes are unbeaten in their last 4 games against OM.
Marseille have conceded 3 or more goals in their last 4 visits to Valenciennes.

 

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 23rd
Monaco 0-0 Toulouse
Sat 24th
Toulouse – Bordeaux
Montpellier – Sochaux

Lyon – Reims
Bordeaux – Bastia
Evian – Rennes
Guingamp – Lorient
Sun 25th
Lille – Saint-Etienne
Ajaccio – Nice
Nantes – psg

 

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)

*In 1993, the year that Marseille won the Champions League they also won Ligue 1 for the 5th consecutive time. The week of the Champions League final against AC Milan, OM had a game against Valenciennes which, if they won, would mean that they would win the Ligue without having to beat title rivals psg in their final game of the season. Marseille beat Valenciennes 1-0 and as a result secured the Ligue 1 title before going on to beat AC Milan in the final to be crowned European Champions. Unfortunately, though rightly, it emerged that Valenciennes player, Jacques Glassman and two of his team mates had been bribed by OM player Jean-Jacques Eydelie to take it easy in the game between the two sides. In the fall out of the bribery OM were stripped of the Ligue 1 title and relegated. As a result there has always been a little tension between the clubs and fans.

Marseille 2-0 Evian match report – Unconvincing win at the Velodrome

18/08/13 – Ligue 1 Game 2
Marseille 2-0 Evian
Stade Velodrome, Att. 42,524

OM ETG 1

They say the sign of a good team is one which still manages to win when it doesn’t play well. OM  pretty much did exactly that here and picked up a flattering 2-0 success against an Evian side that probably deserved at least a draw out of the encounter. The hosts scored two excellent goals through Gignac and Payet, but over the course of the 90 mins they didn’t really create too many chances. It was Pascal Dupraz’s outfit who looked the more threatening but they lacked a finishing touch in front of goal. Ultimately, the difference between the two teams was a couple of extra classy moments which Evian didn’t have.

The game started in the heat of the afternoon and clearly this had an affect on the players throughout the whole contest. The first major occasion of the game fell Evian’s way and it originated from an excellent Ehret run and cross on the left hand side. The defence was caught out and it ultimately needed Steve Mandanda to make a good save to prevent a goal. Evian should’ve been ahead and regretted that miss just a few minutes later when Gicnac scored. It was really a goal out of nothing as Rod Fanni propelled a long ball forward. OM’s leading marksman from last season still had loads of work to do, but he turned Mensah superbly before unleashing an unstoppable left foot shot into the back of the net. It was a truly excellent goal and just what OM needed after a slow start.

OM ETG 2

The hosts couldn’t build on this lead though and in all truth didn’t create another veritable occasion in the first half. It was Evian who were more lively and could’ve easily found themselves level a couple of times. Mandanda had to be quick off his line to deny Benezet, whilst Kevin Berigaud fired over the bar when well placed. OM led 1-0 at HT but needed to improve in the 2nd half or else their advantage wouldn’t last.

Both sides had early shouts for a penalty at the start of the 2nd period,

but neither were convincing enough and the referee waved away all protests. Payet had a shot from a decent position but couldn’t find the target and then close to the hour mark Souley Diawara should’ve done better when unmarked at the back post. The big defender could only head tamely though and then just a couple of moments later at the other end, Evian had a huge chance to equalise. Bertoglio was in acres of space on the left, but couldn’t quite find Berigaud in the middle. Benezet then missed the the resulting chance and he misfired his shot.

This was a huge let off for OM and they responded. Andre Ayew was unlucky not to win a penalty before Dimitri Payer scored his 3rd goal in 2 games thanks to a great individual effort. He controlled a Valbuena through ball before twisting and turning the defence and then drilling a low shot into the net. OM were 2-0 up thanks to a couple of great goals but this advantage masked some deficiencies. Evian had yet more chances to register a goal before the close. Sougou fired wide, whilst both Nsikulu and Mensah had decent efforts saved by Mandanda. If they’d shown some composure in the final third, the result of this match could’ve been very different.

OM ETG 3

Things I liked

  • The goals. Both were really excellent and they show the fact that even when OM are having an off day, they now have more than one match winner who can save them thanks to an individual attempt.

  • Payet -Gignac – Valbuena triangle. Payet has really settled into the side well and looks so much at home in an OM shirt. His class and skill is a massive upgrade on what we had last season on the right wing. These three players already seem to have a great understanding and connection with each other, which is great to see.

  • Captain leading by example. The backline looked shaky in this match, but the last man of resistance Steve Mandanda was imperious. His form was great in this match and dominated in so many ways. Constantly seemed alert and made some very good saves. Massive improvement on the Guingamp performance and proved that was just a small blip

  • Le Stade Velodrome. Ok, so one side of it is under construction still and won’t be finished until next summer, but this stadium is really starting to take shape now. I really like the architectural design and its going to look superb when fully complete.

Things I didn’t like

  • The defence & its tactics. Its clear the backline has been asked to push up a lot more this season, which at times is working. But on other occasions OM are finding themselves really exposed. They’ve gotten away with it facing Guingamp and Evian because neither of them have taken their chances, but a good quality attack won’t be as generous against us.

  • Jeremy Morel. I just don’t see how he can keep being the starter if he maintains poor performances like this one. He’s constantly out of position and tries to bomb forwards too much. Fine as a backup left back, but Mendy is going to be a stud first choice for OM compared to him.

  • Lack of chances created. OK, so I praised the attacking trio earlier, but there was also a lack of chances created here. Evian are hardly world beaters yet we struggled to gain clear cut opportunities. If this was someone like PSG they’d have had 20+ shots or something and probably won 3 or 4 nil. I want to see us really dominate these type of games completely against weaker teams.

Highlights here

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Player ratings (out of 10)  – Mandanda 7,  Fanni 4, N’Koulou 5, Diawara 5, Morel 3, Romao 5, Imbula 4 (Cheyrou 5), Payet 6 (Amalfitano 4), Valbuena 6 (Kadir, not rated), A Ayew 5, Gignac 6.

Man of the match – Mandanda.

His influence here is underestimated. Payet and Gignac will grab the headlines but his authority at the back was really important. Souley Diawara made it into lequipe’s team of the week, but I don’t know how. Ok, he played alright but nothing special in my opinion.

Evian: Laquait, Wass, Sabaly, Mongongou, Mensah, Ehret (72′ Cambon), Bertoglio (63′ Sougou), Barbosa (63′ N’Sikulu) , Sorlin, Berigaud, Benezet

Elie Baup: ‘It was a difficult game in difficult conditions. We did not have enough juice to get forward more. Imbula was hit on the ankle early in the game. He will see the doctor, but there is a slight sprain.’ (From OM.net)

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 16th
Sochaux 1-3 Lyon
Sat 17th
Toulouse 1-1 Bordeaux
Saint-Etienne 1-0 Guingamp
Reims 2-1 Lille
Nice 2-1 Rennes
Bastia 2-0 Valenciennes
Sun 18th
Monaco 4-1 Montpellier
Lorient 2-1 Nantes
psg 1-1 Ajaccio

Marseille – Evian – 17/08/13 – Match Preview

17/08/13 – 16:00 (UK – Replayed 18/08/13 08:00 on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 2
Marseille – Evian Thonon Gaillard
Stade Velodrome, Marseille

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After an incredible start to their first Ligue 1 game of the season against Guingamp, Marseille take on Evian in their first home game. With all 3 of Baup’s new signings hitting the ground running in Brittany, the coach will look to repeat last season’s early run of form and make it two wins from two. Having avoided relegation by 2 points last season, Evian will hope to secure safety a little earlier, although they have lost some of their more high-profile players and struggled to replace those. The Stade Velodrome has continued to be revamped over the summer and will have an increased capacity of around 48,000 for this game. The game is close to a sell-out and FIFA president Michel Platini also be in attendance.

Marseille

Lacking match practice, Elie Baup again indicated that it would be unlikely that Saber Klhifa would feature on Saturday, this time against his former club, instead it he may be handed his debut in week 3 against Valenciennes. Baup should have no injury concerns as it would appear that Mandanda, Valbuena, Payet, Nkoulou and Kadir all returned from their international duties unscathed.

Continuing to work on his fitness, Lucas Mendes may be deemed fit enough to start, especially given the rather shaky performance from the defensive partnership of Nkoulou and Diawara last week. There is no reason for Baup to make any other changes to the squad or formation. He should certainly encourage even more of the creativity that Valbuena and Payet showed last week, as well as some of the link up play with Gignac, and encourage APG’s shots from directly from cutting in if OM are struggling to find the ETG goal.

Full Marseille squad is: Mandanda, Samba, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Imbula, Kadir, Romao, Valbuena, J. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet.

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Evian

Avoiding relegation again will probably be the main target for Pascal Dupraz and his side this season. Having lost Yanick Sagbo and Saber Klhifa over the summer, ETG’s main replacements are Benezet from Ligue 2’s Nimes and our very own Sougou (the latter only on loan). Sougou is not expected to play and Brice Dja Djedje is suspended, so they will primarily rely on the striking partnership of Berigaud and Barbosa.

Marseille will have to be wary of Evian’s attacking threat from set pieces, especially given their weaknesses in previous seasons along with last week’s poor 2nd half showing against Guingamp. Evian’s opening goal in last week’s 1-1 draw with Sochaux came from a deep free kick with Ehret managing to comfortably direct the ball past Pouplin.

The full Evian squad is made up of: Laquait, Hansen, Sabaly, Ehret, Wass, Angoula, Mensah, Mongongu, Cambon, Sorlin, Koné, Barbosa, Benezet, Blanc, Bertoglio, Bérigaud, Sougou, Nsikulu. Although Sougou is not expected to start there are of course worries that he may come off the bench and cause problems. After only signing in January for OM, his loan move to ETG came as a shock to most given that he impressed in his limeted opportunities last year, so Sougou certainly has a point to prove and will hope to impress infront of the OM croud and Elie Baup.

Expected line up and formation:photo

Summary
With nothing to lose from the game there is the chance that Evian could prove to be a tricky opposition on Saturday, however, the same could have been said before the Guingamp game. Marseille comfortably demonstrated their class and ability in the 1st half against Guingamp, the main difference in the second half being Marseille’s slack passing, performance and defence. If OM perform well in both halves then a home win should be on the cards.

Stats
Marseille have won their last 8 home games.
Evian have lost their last 4 away games.
In the 6 games that Klhifa did not feature in for Evian last season they didn’t win a game, losing 4 and drawing 2.
Marseille have won both games between these 2 teams at the Velodrome (2-0 and 1-0)

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 16th
Sochaux – Lyon
Sat 17th
Toulouse – Bordeaux
Saint-Etienne – Guingamp
Reims – Lille
Nice – Rennes
Bastia – Valenciennes
Sun 18th
Monaco – Montpellier
Lorient – Nantes
psg – Ajaccio

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)

Week 1 News

International Duty
Dimitri Payet and Mathieu Valbuena played in the 0-0 draw between France and Belgium. Valbuena was replaced by Grenier (74′) and Payet was replaced by Nasri (’63). Steve Mandanda didn’t make it off the bench.
Foued Kadir was in the Algeria squad to face Guinea, but didn’t play in the 2-2 draw
Alexander N’Doumbou played for Gabon in their 1-1 draw against Cape Verde.
Nikolas Nkoulou has been training with Cameroon ahead of their September fixture against Libya.

Youngsters Florian Stops and Michel Araai are training at Clairefontaine with the French Under 18 squad.Ligue 1 – Game 2
The first home game of Marseille’s season, against Evian, is almost a sell out. Capacity has been increased to 48,000 ahead of this game thanks to the continued renovation to the Velodrome over the summer.

Loan Watch
Florian Raspentino played in Bastia’s 0-2 defeat by Nantes in Ligue 1. he played the full 90 minutes and picked up a booking in the process.
Billel Omrani come on as a 2nd half sub for Arles-Avignon in Ligue 2, but was sent off within 3 minutes and couldn’t help them avoid a 0-1 defeat at the hands of newly relegated Troyes.
Modou Sougou was unable to play for Evian in their 1-1 draw at home with Sochaux.

Marseille Reserves
In their 3rd pre-season friendly the reserve squad were beaten 2-4 by Marignane. Jules Mendy and Anani scored the goals for OM.

Guingamp 1-3 Marseille Match Report – Opening day win despite defensive frailties

11/08/13
EA Guingamp 1-3 Marseille
Stade Municipal du Roudourou, Att. 18,155

Marseille opened up the season with a 3-1 away win at Le Stade Roudourou. OM were extremely quick out of the blocks and sensationally had a 3 goal cushion as early as the 16th minute. It looked like it’d be a romp in the park, but a poor defensive display marred what was a great night for the attack. In the 2nd half,Guingamp missed a penalty, reduced the arrears, and should’ve arguably scored more goals. But Elie Baup’s men managed to hold on for the win and collect a vital opening day 3 point haul.

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Smoking hot start for OM

OM lined up in their familiar 4-2-3-1. Debuts were given to Benjamin Mendy, Gilbert Imbula and Dimitri Payet, whilst Souley Diawara partnered Nkoulou in central defence. Lucas Mendes came back from the summer break a few pounds too heavy and isn’t deemed in good enough condition yet. OM got off to the perfect start when Andre Ayew’s shot was only parried by Samassa straight into the path of Andre Pierre Gignac who had a virtual tap-in which he couldn’t miss. Things got even better for the visitors just a couple of minutes later when the Guingamp defence failed to deal with a routine low cross into the area. They couldn’t clear and Dimitri Payet converted well sliding the ball into the bottom left corner.

OM were smoking hot in attack in the early stages of this game and looked like they could score at will. However, an early alarm bell rang when at the other end Mustapha Yatabare missed a virtual sitter from not far out. Marking was non existent and it was a wake-up call. Guingamp were having constant defensive issues though and Marseille made it 3-0 in the 16th minute through Payet again. Samassa saved well from a Valbuena shot, but the defence couldn’t clear and the ex Lille man converted well. It really had been a sensational start to the season by OM and it looked like game over.

But Guingamp always looked as threat with their 4-4-2 formation in the 1st half and created chances. The whole of the OM backline looked vulnerable with the likes of Nkoulou, Diawara and Mandanda all making sloppy errors which were fortunate to go unpunished. OM of course still looked dangerous themselves though and maybe could’ve scored 4 or 5 goals by halftime. They had to be content with just a 3-0 lead, but realistically the match looked done and dusted.
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Guingamp miss penalty, then reduce arrears

Guingamp made a substitution at HT and bolstered their midfield by bringing on Diallo. They changed formation to a 4-3-3 and immediately started the period on the front foot. Steve Mandanda had to be alert to make a couple of early saves. Guingamp looked more solid and compact with a 4-3-3, certainly less vulnerable defensively anyway. The hosts were given a lifeline in the 52nd minute when referee Said Ennjimi awarded them a penalty. Souley Diawara lunged in on Steven Langil and it was probably a correct decision to award the spot kick, albeit slightly debatable. The ineffective Yatabare missed from 12 years though as Mandanda made a great save to preserve OM’s 3 goal advantage.

What followed then was a period of general stability where not much happened. It looked to be cruise control mode for OM but they allowed Guingamp back into the match thanks to a defensive howler. Nicolas Nkoulou gave the ball away terribly in his own area and the end result was Yatabare converting past Mandanda at his near post. You couldn’t deny that Guingamp deserved a goal, but was it too little too late in the 74th minute? Well, for sure there were some nervy moments for the visitors, especially 3 minutes from time when Diallo missed a free header not too far out. But eventually OM held on comfortably enough and ended up prevailing by a 3-1 scoreline.

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Of course, all you can ever ask for on the opening day of the season is 3 points. OM have managed to achieve this with plenty of positives, most of them coming from the attack force. New signing DImitri Payet was sensational on debut, whilst Valbuena was his usual threatening self. Gignac and Andre Ayew also both had good games too, plus new signings Mendy and Imbula both looked decent. However, there were negatives too. Nkoulou had an absolute stinker and Diawara didn’t look much better. Mandanda, despite doing some good things also looked poor at times. In general, the defence seemed to lack composure and there was also a lack of communication. So, there are plenty of things to work on, but at the end of the day OM managed to win 3-1 and thats the most important thing.

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Player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 5/10 – Made some good saves, including a good penalty stop but made errors too and didn’t link up with the backline very well. Flapped at a few crosses and set pieces.

Fanni 5/10 – Performed his duties to a satisfactory level and supported the attack on occasion too.

Diawara 3/10 – Conceded a needless penalty and made other sloppy errors. Has lack of pace may well have caught up with him now.

Nkoulou 2/10 – And it might even be generous to give him a 2 rating, he was so poor. Constantly gave the ball away, lacked concentration and was 100% at fault for Guingamp’s goal. Very poor.

Mendy 6/10 – Looked the best of the backline and impressed on debut, had a high energy level.

Romao 5/10 – Solid, without being spetacular

Imbula 6/10 – Impressive debut against his former club, seemed to dominate the midfield and looked really at ease

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Had a nice game and contributed solidly on the left hand side

Valbuena 7/10 – As always, a real threat and was dangerous.

Payet 8/10 – MOM here, scored 2 goals on debut and was a constant thorn in Guingamp’s side.

Gignac 6/10 – Scored the opener and generally played well,. His passing and crossing was a little poor at times.

Subs: Samba, Abdallah, Mendes, Cheyrou, Kadir, Amalfitano (81′ Payet), J. Ayew (69′ Gignac)

Guingamp: Samassa, Pereira, Sorbon, Lemaitre, Beauvue, Langil, Sankhare (69′ Atik), Mathis, Kebrat, Yatabare 1, Giresse (46′ Diallo)

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 9th
Montpellier 1-1 psg
Sat 10th
Nantes 2-0 Bastia
Rennes 2-1 Reims
Valenciennes 3-0 Toulouse
Lyon 4-0 Nice
Bordeaux 0-2 Monaco
Evian 1-1 Sochaux
Lille 1-0 Lorient
Sun 11th
Ajaccio 0-1 Saint-Etienne