Fri 15/03/13 – 19:30 (UK – Replayed on ESPN 07:45 Sat)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref. – Nicola Rainville
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.
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:
Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel
Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew
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:
Lippini Zubar Poulard Bouhours
Belghazouani Cavalli Sammaritano
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)
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