Tag Archives: Azpilicueta

Europa League 2nd Leg Preview: Marseille (2v1) FC Sheriff

Europa League 4th Qualifying Round 2nd Leg

30/08/12 – (19:30 UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref: Kristinn Jakobsson (ISL)

Background –

Marseille will look to secure their place in the group stages of the Eurpoa league by avoiding a defeat at home against Moldovan side FC Sheriff Tiraspol. Marseille hold the advantage having won the away first leg 2-1, both goals coming from Jordan Ayew. As had been the case in the Eskisehirspor games, OM showed they had too much in the way of skill and experience for their opposition in the first leg, and Elie Baup will look for his team to demonstrate real professionalism and make sure of a comfortable win.

Marseille –

Since the first leg Marseille have lost the services of Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea, but signed Brazilian youngster Lucas Mendes, although he wasn’t registered in time to play. It also looks as though Stephane Mbia and Joey Barton may be switching teams within the next few days, as well as a host of other mooted transfers.

The squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Mango, Nkoulou, Morel, Mbow, Cheyrou, Kabore, A. Ayew, Amalfitano, Abdullah, Ndoumbou, Valbuena, J. Ayew, Gignac, Raspentino and Omrani.

The lack of Fanni through injury and Mbia through transfer leaves Baup with a dilemma of defensive players with only 4 recognised defenders in the match day squad, two of whom, Mango and Mbow have barely featured in senior squad. With this in mind, Baup may opt to draft Kabore into the centre of defence with Nkoulou andwith Mbow playing at right back. In the attack it could be expected that Jordan Ayew will be paired with the in-form Andre-Pierre Gignac as in the first leg. I would expect if the result is going OM’s way that Raspentino will gain some valuable playing time at some point. Andre Ayew may also be given some pitch time, possibly starting ahead of Valbuena.

Possible starting line-up: (4-4-2) Mandanda – Mbow, Nkoulou, Kabore, Morel – Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Abdullah, A. Ayew – J. Ayew, Gignac.


FC Sheriff –

As was the case quite often in the first leg, FC Sheriff may be content with allowing Marseille to retain possession of the ball, especially as they have the home advantage this time. This may mean that Sheriff set up with 5 in midfield to nullify any OM attacks, and make it difficult to get the ball to J. Ayew and Gignac. If this is their game plan they will be likely to play in the counter attack, and utilise set-pieces, again something that they did well in the first leg. Marseille will have to rely on the experience of Mandanda and Nkoulou to ensure the rest of the defensive group stay alert and don’t switch-off, perhaps gifting Sheriff an easy chance of a vital away goal.

Summary –

As they showed in the 3rd Qualifying round against Eskisehirspor, Marseille should have the strength to overcome, no disrespect intended, a slightly inferior opposition. The current run of form is something Baup and the playing squad will want to continue, no matter who the opposition is. An early goal for Marseille would help settle the nerves and allow OM to play a more free flowing game and experiment with some different players and tactics, something that depending on the outcome of this transfer window, could be needed.

Predicted score:  Marseille 3-1 FC Sheriff (4-2 agg.)

Odds (Bet365 correct at time of publication

Marseille – 1.20

Draw – 6.00

FC Sheriff – 15.00

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & Andrew_Js3)


Other Games

Dynamo Moscow 1-1 Stuttgart (1-3)


Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 2-2 Slovan Liberec

Dila Gori 0-1 Maritimo


Heerenveen 0-2 Molde

Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-1 F91 Dudelange

HJK 0-6 Athletic Bilbao

Rosenborg 1-1 Legia Warsaw

CSKA Moscow 1-0 AIK

APOEL 1-1 Neftci

PSV 5-0 Zeta


Steaua Bucharest 2-0 Ekranas

Sparta Prague 2-2 Feyenoord

Young Boys 3-0 Midtjylland


Metalist 2-0 Dinamo Bucharest

Genk 1-2 Luzern


Viktoria Plzen 1-2 Lokeren


Vodeoton 0-0 Trabzonspor

Club Brugge 3-0 Debrecen

Bordeaux 0-0 Crvena Zvezda


Hannover 96 5-3 Slask Wroclaw

Levante 2-0 Motherwell

Inter Milan 2-0 Vaslui

Partizan 2-3 Tromso

Rapid Vienna 1-2 PAOK


AZ Alkmaar 0-1 Anzhi Makhachkala

FC Twente 1-3 Bursaspor

Newcastle United 1-1 Atromitos

Lazio 2-0 Mura 05

Liverpool 1-0 Hearts

Sporting Lisbon 1-1 Horsens


Montpellier v Marseille Match Preview

26/08/12 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade de la Mosson et du Mondial 98, Montpellier

Ref. – Ruddy Buquet

Background –

Marseille go into this week’s game looking for a 3rd successive ligue win in a row, something not achieved since January, against last season’s Ligue 1 champions, Montpellier. Montpellier have struggled with life after Giroud, only managing a draw against Toulouse in week 1, then suffering a last minute defeat at the hands of FC Lorient in week 2. It had been well documented that many expected Marseille to struggle again this year, with a number of players expected to leave. Life after Deschamps, has started well for OM though managing 4 wins and a draw from their opening 5 fixtures. This week is likely to provide both teams with their toughest test so far.  

Marseille –

Fresh on the back of losing right-back Cesar Azpilicueta to Chelsea, they are able to welcome back an almost match-fit Loic Remy to their squad that travelled west to Montpellier. The squad consisted of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Nkoulou, Morel, Mango, Mbow, Mbia, Cheyrou, Kabore, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Gignac, J. Ayew, Remy, Raspentino.

Elie Baup will be likely to welcome back Benoit Cheyrou to the starting 11, having sat out the Europa League win over FC Sheriff due to a suspension. This will mean that Abdullah will drop to the bench, where Andre Ayew and Loic Remy will be likely to start on the basis that neither is fully match fit yet. The skill, quality and experience of both A. Ayew and Remy could be called upon if the OM game-plan is not working against Montpellier and Baup should make any necessary changes early in the 2nd half to allow Marseille to fully adapt to a likely change in formation such a change would bring.

Marseille will set up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, which has allowed them to keep a great deal of possession, a typical feature of last season’s play, however, with Gignac starting they have now a player who is capable of holding onto the ball and bringing in other players therefore successfully linking up play between midfield and attack, something they struggled with last season.

Andre-Pierre Gignac has been one of Marseille’s star men, having netted 3 times already in just 5 games. A strong pre-season has seen Gignac start this season looking fitter, sharper and keener in games. As a result he has managed to find positions both between the opposition midfield a dn defensive line, as well as in ‘the channels’, i.e. behind the defence toward the touchlines on the edge of the 18 yard box. Gignac’s selfless play has also brought a number of teammates into play, creating opportunities for Valbuena and J. Ayew particularly to run dangerously into the box with the ball.   

Likely starting lineup:


Who are they? –

Montpellier became almost everyone’s second favourite Ligue 1 team last season as they pushed PSG all the way, eventually claiming their first Ligue 1 title on an exhilarating final day of the season. Having accepted the loss of star player Olivier Giroud, Motpellier have invested the money in the exciting Emanuel Herrera, along with Anthiny Mounier and the dependable Daniel Congre.

Montpellier will be looking to keep and incredible undefeated home record going, and should improve on their slow start soon enough. Marseille’s defence will need to be wary of through balls (a comment made continually last season and again during friendlies this year). Cheyrou and Kabore should provide some defensive support to minimise any individual attacks through the centre, pushing Montpellier’s play wide. This would result in them having to play crosses into the box where the height of Nkoulou and Mbia along with the presence of Mandanda should ensure this doesn’t allow any free headers on goal.

Another of Montpellier’s star players from last season, Younes Belhanda, is expected to be fit to start his first game of the season having only played a few minutes in their defeat at Lorient last week. The enigmatic forward can play in a number of positions and is capable of creating chances for others, as well as creating them for himself and finishing them. Depending on his starting position, it would be helpful for Marseille’s defensive midfielders, Kabore and Cheyrou to stay close. As mentioned earlier, OM’s best chance will be to push the Montpellier play wide.


Summary –

This match has the potential to be an incredibly exciting game with Marseille wanting to attack to continue their fine run of form, and Montpellier wishing to do the same to kick-start their title defence. Both teams will be likely to create chances, the difference may well come in how efficient and clinical either team is. There should be goals though, and I think the deciding factor will be in the last line of either teams defence, their goalkeepers. In this department Marseille have the edge, and Mandanda, if he is on form, will just give Marseille the edge in this tight game.

Predicted score: Montpellier 2-3 Marseille.

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Montpellier 2.30

Draw 3.10

Marseille 3.20


Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)


Weekend’s other games

Evian 1-1 Lyon

Nice 2-2 Lille

Rennes 3-2 Bastia

Valenciennes 3-0 Ajaccio

Reims 1-0 Sochaux

Nancy 0-1 Toulouse

Troyes 2-2 Lorient

Saint-Etienne (Sun 16:00) Brest

PSG (Sun 20:00) Bordeaux


Azpi to Chelsea

It had long been expected that Marseille would have to sell before they could buy players this summer. Gone are the days of marquee signings such a Lucho Gonzalez, Loic Remy and even Andre-Pierre Gignac in terms of the fee he commanded. Despite a poor showing in Ligue 1 last season, Marseille managed a relatively successful Champions League run and qualified for the Europa League via their 3rd successive domestic cup win. As a result, as seems to be the case with any club without superior spending capabilities, every ‘prize asset’ Marseille have, has been linked with a move away, most specifically Loic Remy, the Ayew brothers, Nicolas Nkoulou and Cesar Azpilicueta. Continue reading

Marseille – Sochaux Match Preview

Marseille will hope to make it 2 wins out of 2 when they host Sochaux at Le Stade Velodrome on Sunday. The match was originally scheduled for 2pm French time, but it was changed due to fears with the heat. It should still be a hot fixture though with very high temperatures expected on the south coast.

Unfortunately its not been on the field matters which has dominated the headlines in approach to this fixture. Once again, the OM transfer merry go round has been the centre of attention. Alou Diarra has left to West Ham, Stephane Mbia wants out, and Azpiliqueta is right on the verge of joining Chelsea. Names such as Joey Barton, Emir Spahic and even an old legend Lorik Cana have been linked with OM. But quite simply at this stage of August Elie Baup needs to get a firm grip on the transfer market instead of all this messing about.

The visitors, Sochaux are also in a similar position with a number of key players still linked with moves away from the club. The duo of Perquis and Boudbouz are the main doubts, they are included in the squad but how much game time will they have? Boudbouz is another supposedly on the OM shortlist so he may well want to catch the eye of his potential future employers. Sochaux lost disappointingly 2-3 at home to Bastia last week and by all accounts their defence was all over the place. There’s no doubt that OM have a very good chance to pick up another 3 points.

The off the field distractions didn’t affect the on field performance at Reims last week where OM won 1-0. There were some encouraging signs and hopefully the players will knuckle down and deliver the goods again here. The main doubt for OM is Azpi. He is included in the squad but whether or not he’ll start remains to be seen, I personally think Baup could bench him. Amalfitano returns from suspension so Charles Kabore could slot into the RDEF role if required.

A 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation seems the most likely for OM and the team should be pretty similar to last week. If they dont pick up victory in this match then I think it’d have to be classed as a failure. Sochaux are a poor side and look like being one of the weaker ones this year, there is no excuse for OM should they not win. Baup’s men should hopefully show the difference in class and I predict an exciting match with OM to prevail 3-1.

Allez l’OM!!!

MarseilleUK Fans Vote for Player of the Season

The votes have been counted up, so can we start by thanking everyone who took their time to vote for Marseille’s Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season. In the end it became quite close between 2 players in each category with Cesar Azpilicueta coming a close 2nd in the Young Player category and Mathieu Valbuena 2nd in the (Senior) Player voting. The winners were as follows: Continue reading