AS Monaco v Olympique de Marseille
Stade Louis II, Monaco
26/01/14 – 20:00 (Live on BTsports1 UK)
After an incredible Coupe de France game against Nice midweek, Marseille travel along the Mediterranean to face Monaco in Ligue 1. Out of Europe, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, OM must focus on Ligue 1 now with the utmost priority and try to consolidate 3rd position, building on recent slips by Lille. One would hope that the othr teams sniffing around a European qualification spot like Nantes and Reims will run out of steam before the end of the season, however Saint-Etienne and Lyons recent resurgences will be a cause for concern for OM.
As well as putting up with negative press reports, abusive vandalism and as a result cancelling a scheduled press conference, Jose Anigo is without Nicolas Nkoulou for the game against Monaco. Although there has been no official reason given, some speculate it may have something to do with the bid from Napoli midweek. As expected, Andre Ayew also misses. The full squad is made up of Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Abergel, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Tuiloma, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet and Yousfi.
Marseille will hope that the trickery and skill of Valbuena and birthday boy Thauvin will be enough to unlock the 2nd best defence in Ligue 1, having only conceded 14 goals (OM have conceded 21). Monaco showed against Valenciennes in their last home match that they could be susceptible to counter attacks, as they pressure other teams and push forwards looking for a goal. A tight defence would obviously be essential for this, not just stopping Monaco from scoring, but stopping them from creating clear chances. We could also hope that they may have hit a slight dip in form, with Falcao first playing poorly, and now missing the remainder of the season through ACL injury. In their last 3 ligue games Monaco have lost 1, drawn 1 and won 1, compared to OM’s 2 draws and a win.
Likely line-up and formation:
Fanni Diawara Mendes Mendy
Payet Valbuena Thauvin
As mentioned before Claudio Ranieri will be without Falcao, and despite his recent form or attitude he is a huge character to have missing from any squad. Ranieri may also be without Anthony Martial through injury. This could leave an opening for 23 year old, Valere Germain, to start up front with Emmanuel Reviere, who has only made 1 start and six appearences this season for Monaco, with no goals to his name yet. This could work in OM’s favour as, as the ‘main striker’ Reviere may be seen as the target man and he can be susceptible to losing the ball easily when expected to hold the ball up to bring others into play.
Likely line-up and formation:
Raggi Abidal Carvalho Kurzawa
Moutinho Toulalan Obbadi
As with every game recently I feel I am saying this is ‘a must win game for both teams’. Monaco can go within 3 points of psg, after the ligue leaders dropped 2 points in their away draw with Guingamp on Friday. That win would also take them to 7 points ahead of 3rd place Lille. A win for OM, would continue a good run of ligue form and put them 5th at the end of the weekend, however if they were to then win their game in hand against Valenciennes they would move up to 4th and would only be 3 points behind 3rd placed Lille.