Thur 04/10/12 – 20:05 (UK)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref. – Tony Asumaa (Fin)
After an unbeaten and unlikely start to the ligue campaign Marseille were brought crashing down to earth on Sunday with an embarrassing 1-4 defeat at the hands of Valenciennes. Elie Baup will hope this can be simply put down as a ‘bad day at the office’ as Marseille’s performance was completely out of character since Baup took over managerial duties. Having only conceded 1 goal in 6 ligue games OM gifted Valenciennes 2 of their 4 goals, and looked shaky the rest of the game too. OM also lacked any attacking prowess and squandered a number of good opportunities before Jordan Ayew netted a consolation goal in 2nd half injury time. Marseille will hope to get their season back up and running in the Europa League against the least favoured team in Group C, AEL Limassol. After 4 games, the Cypriot team are currently fourth in their demonestic league having picked up 2 wins and 2 draws to match the 0-0 draw they picked up against Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 weeks ago.
Having looked devoid of any defensive stability in the defeat to Valenciennes, along with no effective link up between defence and attack, Baup may give Joey Barton his first start in front of the Velodrome crowd. Certainly if Barton had have been available last weekend, he would have at least made a 2nd half appearance.
Dissapointingly for Elie Baup his injured list has grown somewhat as Cheyrou and Amalfitano join Diawara, Abdallah and Ndiaye in the treatement room. Hopefully Cheyrou and Amalfitano will sit this one out as a precautionary measure in order to be fit for the ligue game this sunday.
Marseille will need to find their passing game and fluiditiy back against AEL as it will be guaranteed that they will chase the ball, and close down OM players high up the pitch, just as Valenciennes did this past week. If OM are unable to pass their way out of their half, then it may be required that Valbuena drops deeper along with Amalfitano and A. Ayew, all of whom were kept quiet at the weekend too. If either of these 3 players picks up the ball near the half-way line, then we know what they can do with it. Remy or Gignac, will also be able to support this style of play by dropping into the channels, something they both naturally do well. This positional support will be far more effective for the team than dropping deep to collect the ball like Gignac had to do on Sunday.
Full squad for the game consists of Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Nkoulou, Morel, Mbow, Mendes, Mango, Aloe, Kabore, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, Raspentino, A. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew.
Kabore will be likely to take up his right-back starting position, with Barton making his home debut alongside Abdullah as a defensive midfield partnership. Baup may also give Gignac a rest and start Remy, with J. Ayew taking Amalfitano’s place in right midfield. If this does happen it is important that Jordan Ayew tracks back and supports Kabore when needed.
Probable starting line-up and formation:
Who are they? –
Athlitiki Enosi Lemesou, or AEL Limassol enter this season’s Europa League on the back of winning the Cypriot league last season. They narrowly missed out on a domestic double, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat in the Cup against Omonia Nicosia.
The side, managed by Pambos Christodoulou have adopted the former Doxa and Olympiakos’ coaches attacking style of play. Having won the Cypriot league with the club in his first season in charge, the club would like to put in a solid European campaign, emulating the Champions League success of APOEL last season.
In their 0-0 opening Group C game against Borussia Mönchengladbach, AEL demonstrated a mature approach to the game defending and attacking as a solid unit. One of the stand out players during the game was AEL’s vice-captain Stelios Parpas. The 27 year old, helping to lead by example from defence. During the game he made 4 tackles and blocked 3 shots from the opposition, only being dribbled past once and giving away 1 foul. The movement from Gignac or Remy to pick up the ball, should see either player do well against Parpas, who if he is dragged out of position tracking his player, will leave a central hole for someone like Valbuena to utilise and get shots away.
Having mentioned earlier, AEL’s pressing game there is also a likelihood that AEL will focus on the recent obvious weakspot that is Marseille’s right and left back positions. Time and time again Valenciennes eased past the defenders, creating often excellent opportunities that Le Tallec couldn’t always finish. If the options were there it would be tempting to drop Kabore, Fanni and Morel on the back of that game, although Nkoulou didn’t have his most assured games either. These players need to regain some confidence though and play as a solid unit, the way they have so far this season, before they face a much sterner test in the ligue this coming weekend.
After the ego-shattering defeat to Valenciennes, Elie Baup will look for an instant reaction from his team. Now that they have been ‘freed’ from the stigma and burden of being unbeaten a solid and more assured display is required before the money-train, that is psg, rolls into town this weekend. OM’s considerable experience, along with better players, should be enough to see them through, providing they don’t become complacent. Any complacency in this game, and there could be another shock result on the cards.
Predicted score: Marseille 2v0 AEL
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Other Europa League Games
Anzhi Makhachkala 17:00 Young Boys
Neftchi 17:00 Inter Milan
Rubin Kazan 17:00 Partizan Belgrade
FC Basel 18:00 Genk
Met’st Kharkiv 18:00 Rapid Vienna
Hannover 96 18:00 Levante
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 18:00 Lyon
Helsingborgs 18:00 FC Twente
Lazio 18:00 NK Maribor
Panathinaikos 18:00 Tottenham
Rosenborg 18:00 Bayer Leverkusen
Sparta Prague 18:00 Athletic Bilbao
Videoton 18:00 Sporting Lisbon
Academica 20:05 Hapoel Tel-Aviv
AIK Solna 20:05 Dnipro
Atletico Madrid 20:05 Plzen
Borussia M’gladbach 20:05 Fenerbahce
Club Bruges 20:05 Maritimo
Liverpool 20:05 Udinese
Molde 20:05 VfB Stuttgart
Newcastle United 20:05 Bordeaux
PSV Eindhoven 20:05 Napoli
Steaua Bucharest 20:05 FC Copenhagen