Tag Archives: Barton

Parisian Party Postponed as OM Pick Up The Points

04/05/13 – 16:00 (UK)

Marseille 2-1 Bastia

Stade Velodrome, Marseille – Att. 35,687

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Team: Mandanda – Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel – Barton, Romao – Amalfitano (’62 Sougou), Valbuena, J. Ayew (’85 Kadir) – Gignac 2

A much changed Marseille squad managed another win to make sure psg can’t mathematically win the ligue this weekend, and give themselves every chance of securing champions league football next week. Two goals from Gignac gave Marseille the 2-1 win in a game that was surprisingly one sided, in favour of OM.

After a lively opening 10 minutes with half chances for both sides it was Gignac who opened the scoring, excellently netting for his 12th of the season.

An excellent run from Jordan Ayew, brought him infield where he played in Valbuena. Gignac had already found some space on the right and as Valbuena played him in, and Gignac cut inside onto his left foot and curled the ball into the far post past Landreau. The goal was typical, trademark Gignac, hanging on the line of the last defender in an off-centre position before cutting inside and shooting.

Immediately after the goal Marseille, perhaps uncharacteristicly, threatened a number of times, firstly Gignac was flagged offside when one-on-one with Landreau, before a Lucas Mendes header connected with the cross bar.

For the remainder of the half Bastia failed to threaten Mandanda’s clean sheet streak, with only a poor header from ex-OM man Maoulida and a speculative volley from Modeste coming close. The game should have been well beyond Bastia by half time though, as Gignac still had time to fire a volley of the bar before half time.

Immediately after half time it looked like Marseille might live to regret those missed opportunities as Bastia equalised within 50 seconds. Mandanda was beaten by Thauvin after breaking through the middle and unleashing a superb strike from 25 yards that just evaded the hands of Mandanda as it flew into the far corner. As good as the goal was to end Mandanda’s clean sheet streak, which lasted almost 700 minutes, questions have to be asked of Mendes who backed off and Romao who looked rather sluggish when tracking back.

After yet more wasted chances from Amalfitano, who shot straight at Landreau from close-range, and Jordan Ayew who couldn’t direct a header on target, Marseille were nearly punished again. Former player Maoulida had the ball past Mandanda, only to have his goal correctly ruled out for offside.

The introduction of Sogou for Amalfitano gave OM a little more pace in attack. He almost netted within minutes as Valbuena played him through, and although his shot had the beating of Landreau, Palmeieri managed to get in the way to divert the ball for a corner.

With Bastia looking to play out for a draw and happy to run down the clock, Gignac struck again with another excellent goal. As OM broke down field following a Bastia corner, Valbuena picked out Gignac on the right wing. As Gignac powered into the box and past the covering Palmeieri he struck a well-placed shot into the far corner past Landreau, to score his 13th of the season.

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The win means that Marseille are guaranteed to finish next weekend in 2nd place and only need 2 more points 2 guarentee finishing ahead of Saint-Etienne. The win was even sweeter as it meant psg couldn’t win the ligue title at home this weekend and came with 3 major changes to the starting 11. Elie Baup should have a full choice squad available for the visit of Toulouse next week, and Gignac will hope to continue his good form with a goal or two against his former club.

Man of the match – Valbuena. 2 assists from the little guy and a constant threat when on the ball. One of the most comfortable games he’s had in recent weeks, helping the team break by acting as an effective link between the defence and attack. Could also have assisted a few more goals if jAyew and Sougou had managed to convert their chances too.

Elie Baup: ‘We would have preferred not to have conceded early in the 2nd half, but we showed our intentions from the outset, creating a lot of scoring chances and the fans were treated to a good match. We have never spoken about the title as Paris have had it reserved for a very long time.’

Goals & highlights

Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

 

Marseille v Brest – 20/04/13 – Match Preview

20/4/13 –16:00 (UK)
Marseille v Brest
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref. – Benoit Bastien

Marseille will keep up their hopes up of Champions League football as they face relegation threatened Stade Brestois at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday afternoon. Recent wins over Nice and Bordeaux coupled with difficult away draws with Lyon and Lille have put OM in a good position to finish 2nd ahead of Lyon. Brest on the other hand are looking to avoid a 6th successive defeat, during which they have conceded 2 or more goals 4 times, twice suffering 0-4 losses.

Olympique de Marseille

With Lyon’s last gasp winner against Montpellier on Friday evening, Marseille need a win to finish the weekend in 2nd place and keep a little pressure on psg. Elie Baup has no new injury concerns after last weeks return of Mathieu Valbuena.
The full Marseille squad for the game is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Diawra, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Abdallah, Cheyrou, Romao, Barton, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Sougou, J. Ayew and Gignac.
The efficiency of OM recently has seen them continue with positive results despite only registering 2 goals in the last 5 games. This consistency of results has been helped with solid defensive displays despite numerous questions over the ability and form of Mandanda, Nkoulou, Mendes and Morel all season.
A big win would help improve the confidence further as we reach the final 5 games, and really would help with the push for Champions League football next season.
Likely starting line up and formation:

Mandanda
Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel
Cheyrou Romao
Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew
Gignac

Stade Brestois 29

Brest’s poor form since the winter break has seen them slide from 13th to 19th, they have spent the last 3 weeks in the relegation zone. With only 2 wins and 2 draws since the winter break, and with games against Sochaux, psg and Nancy coming up, Landry Chauvin really needs his team to start putting some results together.
Marseille will need to be wary of the long ball from Brest as they look to play in Benschop with attacking support from Touré and Raspentino.
Despite their form, Brest’s last 3 wins have all come away from home, against Sochaux, Evian and Bordeuax. They have a tendency to start and end games well scoring 7 (24%) of their goals in the first 15 minutes and 18 (62%) of their goals in the final 30 minutes!
The player to watch for Brest will surely be Florian Raspentino. Having signed in the summer for Marseille and after barely being given a chance, Raspentino was shipped out on loan to Brest. Since then he has started 12 games for them and netted 3 times, showing promising pace, skills and shooting accuracy as well as an astute positioning sense. It goes without saying that he would probably enjoy showing Elie Baup and the Velodrome faithful what they have been missing this season.
Brest likely starting line-up and formation:

Thébaux
Traoré Martial Kantari Mendy
Auras Sissoko
Touré Grougi Raspentino
Benschop

At the Stade Velodrome, Brest have never registered a win, Marseille registering 7 against 2 draws. Last seasons 1-1 draw came amid OM’s terrible start to the season and Mandanda gifted Brest the lead within the first 5 minutes. Andre Ayew rescued OM on that day and hopefully both of those players will be back at their best today.
Predicted score: Marseille 2-0 Brest

Selected odds (Bet365 correct at time of publication)
Marseille: 1.36
Draw: 4.50
Brest: 9.00

Weekend Fixtures:
Montpellier 1v2 Lyon
Bastia v Lille
Reims v Valenciennes
Toulouse v Lorient
Nancy v Evian
Sochaux v Bordeaux
psg v Nice
Coupe de la Ligue: Saint-Etienne v Rennes

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@Andrew_js3 & @MarseilleUK)

Marseille v Ajaccio – 15/03/13 – Match Preview

Fri 15/03/13 – 19:30 (UK – Replayed on ESPN 07:45 Sat)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Nicola Rainville

 

Background –

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.

 

Marseille –

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:

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

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:

Ochoa

Lippini Zubar Poulard Bouhours

Mostefa Lasne

Belghazouani Cavalli Sammaritano

Mutu

 

Summary –

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)

Marseille 1.44

Draw 4.00

Ajaccio 8.00

 

Allez l’OM

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

Lyon v Marseille – 10/03/13 – Match Preview

 

OL v OM Olympico

Sun 10/03/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Gerland, Lyon

Ref. – Clement Turpin

 

Background –

2nd meets 3rd this Sunday in the race to see who can keep in touch with psg and stake their claim as genuine title contenders. Both teams have faltered when given the chance to keep in touch or extend a lead at the top this season, so there are a number of pressures with this game. A defeat for Marseille would surely end any lingering hopes of challenging for the title, whereas a defeat for Lyon would put them 5 points behind psg and it’s difficult to see the Parisians slipping up again this season. Of course, Marseille would also like to avenge the rather humiliating 1-4 defeat at the Stade Velodrome back in November.

Marseille –

After an excellent performance in Ligue 1’s ‘le classique’, OM were disappointing in the Coupe de France re-run, before putting in a more assured and convincing display against relegation strugglers Troyes last week. The 2 late goals that gave OM the win, suggest the match was more difficult than it was, the only downside being the amount of chances OM squandered.

After missing the last 3 weeks through injury, Elie Baup can welcome Benoit Cheyrou back to his squad, although he will find it difficult to break back into the starting 11 with January signing Alaixys Romao impressing in recent weeks. The squad that travelled to Lyon consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.

Expected line-up and formation: 

Mandanda

Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel

Barton Romao

Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew

Gignac

 

Having been a direct replacement for Gignac in previous games, Sougou, was used as a right sided attacking midfielder when he came on against Troyes and was far more imposing in this position. He linked up well with Valbuena as Andre Ayew retreated into a deep holding role. His vision and pace directly resulted in both of Marseille’s goals and there is little doubt that without him, Marseille would not have won.

Although 4th in the defensive tables, Lyon do concede a number of attacking opportunities to their opponents so if OM can keep their shooting boots on then they may successfully find a way past Vercoutre. The link-up between Valbuena and Sougou will be key to this as the pair exploited the space left through Gignac’s drifting positioning and punished Troyes in a way Marseille have failed to do in recent games. A solid improving partnership between Barton and Romao/Cheyrou should also perform better against Malbranque than they did at the Velodrome too.

 

Who are they? –

Just as Marseille have surprised the media and fans alike this season, so have Lyon. Their efficient play has kept them towards the top of the table all season and despite the loss of high profile players before and during the season, youngsters and fringe players have stepped up admirably.

Just like Marseille, Lyon had a poor record at Stade Brest, and this continued last week as they could only leave Brittany with a single point after a 1-1 draw thanks to Makonda own goal.

Lyon are a very effective team and it is unlikely that focussing an attack on one discernible weakness would lead to success against them. Marseille will stand a far greater chance of victory through using all of their attacking options and arsenal against them. This will include; counter-attacks, width through aAyew and Sougou, individual skill through the centre through Valbuena, crosses and arial skills from Gignac etc. This along with far more resolute defending will give OM their best chance against Remi Garde’s men.

Lyon are likely to be without Gourcuff and Ghezzal, Reveillere is also a doubt. Gonalons and Fofana return after missing the Brest game. Likely line up and formation of Lyon:

Vercoutre

Dabo Bisevac Lovren Umtiti

Gonalons Fofana

Laczette Malbranque Lopez

Gomis

 

Summary –

A win in the ‘Olympico’ would do wonders for either team. OM have the most to lose from this game as a defeat would surely leave both Lyon and psg too far ahead to be caught this season. An OM win though, as well as retribution and revenge for the defeat earlier this season could give them the impetus and inspiration to put together an impressive end of season run and really push psg and Lyon all the way.

 

Predicted score: Lyon 1v2 Marseille  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Lyon 2.15

Draw 3.30

Marseille 3.40

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Rennes 2v2 Saint-Etienne

psg 2v1 Nancy

Brest 0v1 Toulouse

Valenciennes 1v3 Lille

Evian 5v1 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v0 Lorient

Troyes 4v2 Reims

Nice v Montpellier

Bordeaux v Bastia

Marseille v Troyes – 3/3/13 – Match Preview

Sun 03/03/13 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Laurent Duhamel

Background –

The meeting between Marseille and Troyes in week 9 could have been the turning point in Marseille’s season. Before the game they were top of the Ligue by 3 points and had only suffered 1 defeat after their best ever start to a season. During the game in Troyes, OM lost Gignac to a broken metatarsal, lost the game 0-1, and lost their place at the top of Ligue1 to psg, something they have failed to gain back since. The loss of Gignac had a huge impact on the team, only winning 2 of the 6 games he missed out on. Having lost out on 3rd place due to other results this weekend, hopefully Marseille can turn the end of their season round with a much needed win over Troyes. A week of back to back losses to psg and a cup exit is one thing. Losing out on 3rd place and a defeat to the ligue’s bottom club would be another!

 

Marseille –

Having matched and bettered psg for most of the Ligue game last Sunday, Elie Baup decided to name an unchanged team against psg’s much changed team for the Coupe de France game midweek. It may have been fatigue or disappointment but OM failed to get anywhere near psg’s much changed team in most departments. The concentration, effort and endeavour that the world had watched on Sunday evening, was nowhere to be seen in the cup. Defensive blunders were back, misplaced passes made a return and wayward shooting continued. A performance like that was never going to beat a reserve psg team, so improvements must be made against a team who will arrive in Marseille fighting for survival.

Benoit Cheyrou and Morgan Amalfitano are both still absent, though N’Diaye returns to the squad. The full squad available for selection consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, N’Diaye, Romao, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Gignac, J. Ayew and Sougou.

Many would have trouble arguing with a decision to change the entire defensive unit after a number of consistently poor and shaky performances from Mandanda, Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes and Morel, though how beneficial or suitable a defensive 5 of Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Romao and NDiaye would be remains to be seen. Seeing that Baup has often failed to see the obvious issues in defence all season (set piece marking, conceding from set-pieces and defensive leadership) it is probably safe to assume that the defence will remain unchanged.

Likely starting lineup: 4-2-3-1

Mandanda

Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel

Romao, Barton

Kadir, Valbuena, Andre Ayew

Gingac

 

Marseille should look to play on the break again, this is where they saw the most success against psg, and they should see a little more benefit from a slightly weaker opposition. Too often last week, OM’s counter play was rushed, and therefore crosses from Valbuena, Gignac or Kadir were trying to pick out only one other attacking player. If OM are to play this was the whole attacking unit needs to break with much more pace, this should not really be a problem for Valbuena, Kadir or Andre Ayew.

 

Who are they? –

After Nancy’s win over Sochaux yesterday, Troyes have dropped to the bottom of the Ligue 1 table and sit 7 points from safety. A shock win at Marseille would undoubtedly give them a huge lift ahead of playing Stade de Reims next week which could then put them only 1 point from safety with the advantage of a huge confidence boost in the process.

At present though they have the 2nd worst defensive record in the ligue, conceding 46 (Bastia have conceded 51), and one of the poorest attacking records too, 14th in the attacking table). Some of Troyes’ good attacking play this season has come from play down the wings. If Marseille allow Troyes to attack in this way, then they should ensure that Nkoulou and Mendes are in position to defend effectively.

Bahebeck and Camus are likely to be the two players working the wide positions for Troyes. Fanni and Morel must be careful to push their respective opponents wide and force them into crosses from difficult positions, allowing the rest of the OM team to take up suitable defensive positions. Allowing these two players time to dribble and possible cut inside would be most dangerous and is likely to give Troyes licence to shoot from distance and potentially score.

Along with the impressive Camus, Benjamin Nivet is sure to be the man to watch. Playing in a position just behind Yattara, Nivet has contributed 8 goals and 2 assists for Troyes so far. His ability to provide through his through balls means that if he is not closed down quickly, he is likely to cause problems. Either Barton or Romao must decide who is to press Nivet quickly. Once the ball has left Nivet, both players can drop deeper if needed, or push out and attack the defensive midfield line of Othon and Xavier. But it is important that Nivet is pressed immediately, this is something that did not happen with Beckham midweek and he was given the freedom to spray the ball around with ease, of course Beckham was playing deeper than Nivet will be expected to play, ensuring that Barton and Romao to not have to take up to advanced a position.

Possible Troyes line up (4-2-3-1):

Thuram

Faussurier Rincon Saunier N’Sakala

Othon Xavier

Bahebeck Nivet Camus

Yattara

 

Summary –

Having been in and out of the title race this season, last week’s defeat to psg, seemingly ruled OM out for good, however, with psg’s shock defeat at Reims this week, and Marseille’s game against Lyon next week, OM could end next Sunday only 2 points from top spot (I know there are a lot of variables in that, but what the hell!).

Marseille’s last 3 games against Troyes at the Velodrome have resulted in a Marseille 9-3 aggregate scorline, with Troyes winning only once in the last 7 meetings (0-1 in 2001). If Marseille want to ensure a Champions League qualification, which would be good progress for this squad, then they need to begin with a win over Troyes. This would put them 2 points clear of Saint-Etienne in 4th who face a tough game against Rennes next week.

 

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 Troyes

 

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.44

Draw 4.10

Troyes 8.00

 

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Montpellier 2-0 Rennes

Reims 1-0 psg

Bastia 1-0 Ajaccio

Toulouse 0-0 Evian

Sochaux 1-2 Nancy

Saint-Etienne 4-0 Nice

Lorient 1-1 Valenciennes

Brest v Lyon

Lille v Bordeaux

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Le Classique part 3 – psg v Marseille – 24/02/13 – Match Preview

psg  v OM

Sun 24/02/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN Classic)

Parc des Princes, Paris

Ref. – Fredy Fautrel

Background –

Had this game been scheduled to take place last weekend the result may have been a forgone conclusion in most people’s eyes. Having only won one of 5 games since the winter break, Marseille’s unlikely title challenge looked to be over as they sat 8 points away from the seemingly unstoppable PSG, who had not suffered defeat since the beginning of December. But a late winner from Rod Fanni for OM and a shock defeat for PSG at the hands of relegation threatened Sochaux has seemingly seen the Ligue 1 title race thrown back open. A win for Marseille would put them within 2 points of PSG, who could be equalled on points by Lyon too. The 3rd classique of the season and perhaps the most important.

Marseille –

After struggling for consistent form since the winter break the last minute win over Valenciennes may give Marseille a much needed confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s game against psg. Lacking their usual clinical finishing, Marseille squandered a number of good chances in a game that ultimately sounded a great deal closer than it actually was. It is unlikely that psg will concede the number of chances they offered to Sochaux to another team, so Gignac and co best make sure they have packed their shooting boots for the trip to the capital.

Elie Baup is without the services of Jordan Ayew (suspension), Morgan Amalfitano (injury) and Benoit Cheyrou (thigh injury), but can welcome back Kassim Abdallah to bolster his substitution and defensive options. Other than this he has a full strength squad at his disposal. The full squad thathas travelled to Paris is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Aloe, Romao, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and Anani. Having impressed in games so far Romao and Kadir will be likely to keep their places hoping to continue to improve their understanding of each other and team mates even further.

Likely starting lineup:
OM v psg

Who are they? –

First are the thoughts of psg fan Ross Mackiewicz (Follow on twitter @RossMackiewicz) –
‘Putting the rivalry aside, this is an exciting time for both clubs as we embark on the start of a double-bill in the league and cup. It really is a treat for fans of French football in general and one they should relish. From a Parisien perspective we need to bounce back after – I would say – our worst performance of the season away to Sochaux last weekend. You could tell the midweek game in Valencia had taken its toll and we looked a shell of the team that played some exhilarating football on that night. Pressure is on us though, a win for OM will put them three points off us and that will certainly put them well and truly back in the title hunt. It is a defining one for both clubs in truth. A win for either will have implications and Lyon will be watching with interest also. I just hope the possible debut of David Beckham does not make any minds wander in the PSG dressing room and attention is solely fixated on the job in hand. Marseille will be hoping otherwise of course. May the best team win!’

Having overcome media-spun crisis after crisis this season after the odd poor result, Marseille take on psg amid full flow of the Beckham driven media circus as the ‘angel’ of English football looks set to make his psg debut at some point on Sunday. As many have eluded to, Beckham offers any club a number of things; experience, class, skill; however, it is difficult to see what he adds to the current psg first team that any other player wouldn’t offer with a little more pace and exuberance.

Confirmed absentees for Carlo Ancelotti are Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva and Mamadou Sakho. These leave psg a little short at the back with the likely centre back pairing of Armand and Alex lacking in pace.

The main danger psg still possess comes in the form of Ibra. Although it is unlikely that OM will have improved their defensive discipline in the space of a week, the quality of Ibra will not have been lost on Nkoulou and Mandanda since their encounter at the Velodrome in October. His awareness allowed him to beat Nkoulou to the ball to stab home his opening goal, and his power drove home his second direct from a free kick that (if you were harsh you would say) the wall should have blocked or Mandanda could have got a hand to. As shown a number of times though Ibra is as susceptible as our own Joey Barton to allowing the ‘red mist’ to descend. Perhaps as Ibra drops deep it may be Barton who gets close to him and works some of his ‘British charm’ on the big guy in order to try and throw him off his game. It would be a poor decision if this was the only plan that Baup had so thankfully there are a few other areas that OM can look to exploit.

As Sochaux demonstrated last week, psg are often vulnerable to counter attacks (this was how Gignac netted his first at the Velodrome). Sochaux also demonstrated psg’s defensive frailties through awareness of positions and movement. The space afforded to them in the psg box when players drifted wide and then attacked through the centre was hauntingly familiar to the way OM have been attacked in the past.

As MarseilleUK’s Steve eluded to in his statistical preview of this game for Just Football, psg have not picked up the results type of results they would like against sides currently in Ligue 1’s top 10. Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and perhaps surprisingly, Lorient have all picked up more points per game against the current top 10 than psg. This perhaps gives OM a slight edge in performance tables, however, given the home advantage and current general form it woulod be foolish to suggest that psg have anything but the upper hand.

 

Summary –

For the benefit of the Ligue I hope for what would be considered a shock Marseille win. To have potentially only 2 points separating the top 3 teams with 12 games remaining would be a fantastic advertisement for French football. This would make it more competitive than any of the other ‘top’ leagues in Europe (Points separating Top 3 teams: Germany – 16; Spain – 16; England – 16; Italy – 11).

Above all though, a competitive match would be requested. Along with the minimal points separating the top teams, we need some of the top matches to provide a ‘wow’ factor. Most of you reading this, will be reading it because of your love of French football and the Ligue in general. Like me, you will seek out match reports, read reviews and watch highlights of the dullest 0-0 draws, just because you love the ligue. Unfortunately ESPN have opted to show the Milan derby and I can understand their choice. But I would love have the satisfaction that we all watched our dodgy internet streams for a game that had more depending on it, and was more entertaining than Gladbach v Dortmund, Man City v Chelsea, Inter v AC, Barca v Sivilla and Athletico Madrid v Espanyol combined!

Predicted score: psg 1v2 Marseille (hopeful, but what the hell!)

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

psg 1.50

Draw 3.80

Marseille 7.50

Other Ligue 1 games

Nice 2-0 Reims

Rennes 2v2 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v3 Lille

Evian 0v1 Montpellier

Nancy 0v3 Saint-Etienne

Valenciennes 0v0 Toulouse

Lyon v Lorient

Bordeaux v Brest

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Evian v Marseille – Match Preview – 10/02/13

ETG v OM Preview

Sun 10/02/13 – 13:00 (UK)

Parc des Sports d’Annecy, Evian

Ref. – Antony Gautier

Background –

After suffering a shock home defeat to bottom club AS Nancy last week, Marsreille will be looking to show a little more bottle this week against the team sitting 16th, Evian Thonon Gaillard. The shock defeat added to the surprise defeats OM have suffered at the hands of Troyes and Sochaux this season and meant that they missed the opportunity to go level on points with Lyon, and lost ground on Ligue leaders psg. Evian have so far failed to win in 2013 but have drawn 3 in a row against Lyon, Ajaccio and Bastia allowing them to climb out of the relegation zone.

Marseille –

Away from the pressures of the Velodrome, Marseille have fared better on the road this season, and will look to continue that form as they try to win at Evian for the first time. Last season ex-Marseille man Jerome Leroy scored twice as OM’s mid-season run of form took a dip.

Charles Kabore is still absent on international duty as his Burkina Faso face Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations in South Africa on Sunday. Joey Barton will miss the game through suspension after his red card against Nancy last week and more surprisingly Andre Ayew withdrew late from the squad. Foued Kadir came off the bench against Nancy, and will be pushing for a starting place this week. New signing Alaixys Ramao, from FC Lorient, is also available for selection after returning from the ACon with Togo. Jeremy Morel and Nikolas Nkoulou have been receiving treatment on their respective injuries this week and are still doubts for this game.

The full travelling squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes, Diawara, Aloe, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, Kadir, J. Ayew, Gignac, Sougou & Jobello.

Possible line up: 4-2-3-1
Mandanda
Fanni, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes
Abdullah, Cheyrou
Romao, Valbuena J. Ayew
Gignac

Who are they? –

After promotion from Ligue 2, Evian managed a more than respectable 9th placed finish last season (1 place and 2 points ahead of OM). Their hard working mentality and often exciting counter-attacking play meant they were a difficult team to beat, and although they have not managed to quite match this form and play as much this season, this will be no walk in the park for OM.

Evian’s home record makes worrying reading for ETG fans picking only 2 victories (against Bastia 3-0 and Troyes 2-0). Their specialism for draws(5 at home) is only beaten by Bordeaux who have drawn 6 times at home, so a draw could be a good bet.

Pacal Dupraz will be without Mohamed Rabiu and Jon Mensah who are still on ACoN duties. Brice Dja Djedje and Stephen Anderson who are injured, however, Barbosa is expected to recover in time to play.

Marseille will need to be wary of the ETG counter-attack. This is something that they showed immense vulnerability to against Nancy, and were only let off by ASNL’s rather wayward shooting. With 8 goals between them, Barbosa and Sagbo may not be as forgiving as Apou’o was ;ast Sunday.

Likely starting line-up: (4-4-1-1)Laquait – Mongongu, Angoula, Betao, Wass – Berigaud, Sorlin, Bi, Barbosa – Khelifa – Sagbo

Summary –

Before the winter break this game should have been relatively straightforward for Marseille, however, with a string of inconsistent results and performances it becomes a must win game for both teams. A win for OM keeps them close enough to the top 2 and also keeps them away from 4th placed Bordeaux who have closed to within 4 points of OM. A win for Evian could take them 5 points clear of the drop zone if results go their way.

Predicted score: Evian 1v2 Marseille

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Evian 3.50

Draw 3.20

Marseille 2.15

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Other Ligue 1 Fixtures:

psg 3-1 Bastia

Saint-Etienne 4v1 Montpellier

Nice 1v1 Lorient

Valenciennes 2v1 Brest

Troyes 0v0 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v0 Bordeuax

Nancy 1v2 Reims

Rennes v Toulouse

Lyon v Lille