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Rennes v Marseille – Match Preview 26/1/13

Rennes v Marseille

Sat 26/01/13 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade de la Route de Lorient, Rennes

Ref – Tony Chapron

Background

With a gas leak in Rouen postponing Marseille’s Coupe de France game mid-week, OM will have had slightly longer than planned to prepare for a tough trip to 5th placed Rennes. Unfortunately the squad had already travelled to Rouen, so may not be as fresh as they could have been. Rennes have had a week to recover from their 2-0 ligue win over Bastia, as they were eliminated from the Coupe de France by RC Lens in the round of 64.

Marseille

Marseille are without the services of Kabore and Kadir, who are both involved with the African Cup of Nations. Modou Sougou, midweek signing from CFR Cluj, took part in training with the squad this week and is expected to play some part in the game.

As much as the pointless trip to Rouen was mid-week, it means that the last game OM played in was their 3-2 win over Montpellier, where Gignac netted a late winner. This poor performance that still resulted in a victory is sometimes what teams need to keep their form going.

The 18 man team is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Abdullah, Aloe, Abdullah, Barton, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Gignac, Sougou.

Rennes have often shown that they are weak in defending attacks from wide areas. The prevalence of Andre Ayew and Valbuena in the Montpellier match should ensure they see more success against Danze and Mavinga.

Barton may have to drop deep to support either ex-Rennes man Fanni, or Morel against the emphatic Alessandrini, who can dribble, pass and shoot, particulalrly when cutting in from the left. If Barton supports in the manner that he shown in the past, he will act as an extra body to push Alessandrini wide, and eliminate the risk of the shot from distance.  

Likely starting line-up: 4-2-3-1; Mandanda – Fanni, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel – Barton, Cheyrou – J. Ayew, Valbuena, A. Ayew – Gignac

 

Who Are They?

Rennes currently occupy 5th place in the ligue table, after finishing a respectable 6th at the end of the last campaign. After a poor start to the season, losing to Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille and Lorient, Rennes sat 18th after week 6. Since then, however, Rennes have stormed up the ligue table only failing to win 4 times from 15 games, against ASSE, Evian, Nice and Bordeaux.

Rennes have a wealth of talent at their disposal, despite the departure of the enigmatic Yann M’vila to Rubin Kazan this week. Frederic Antonetti’s main threats will undoubtedly come from the experienced Julien Feret, and the exciting talent of Romain Alessandrini. Feret is good in the air and will be likely to trouble OM’s nervous defence during set-peieces, if he is not taking them himself. He has already weighed in with 6 goals and 2 assists this season. Alessandrini has the same stats with 6 goals and 2 assists, with the only difference being that most of Alessandrini’s goals have been goal of the season contenders.

Just as Marseille can do with their 3 supporting attackers, Diallo, Feret and Alessandini can all change position throughout the game, posing a constant fresh threat to the whole of the defensive line.

Sumary

Last season Marseille benefited from an own goal, from Onykachi Apam, to help them to a 2-1 victory and they may need more of the same luck this season, because this will definitely be a tough game. Both teams pose similar attacking threats, and have the same ligue record in the last 4 games, WWLW. Rennes sit 12th in the home form tables whereas Marseille are joint top in away results, so the game looks as if it will be a tight affair, with a couple of goals to be expected. An individual error or moment of magic could well be the deciding factor in this game.

 

Predicted result: Rennes 1-2 Marseille

 

Selected odds (from Bet365.com, correct at time of publication):

Rennes: 2.75

Draw: 3.00

Marseille: 2.75

 

Weekend’s other Ligue 1 fixtures:

Valenciennes 0-2 Lyon

Evian v Ajaccio

Montpellier v Sochaux

Nancy v Lorient

Reims v Toulouse

Troyes v Brest

Saint-Etienne v Bastia

Nice v Bordeaux

psg v Lille

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK)

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Marseille 1-0 Saint-Etienne – Match Report

Ayew Nods OM To The Top Of Ligue 1 Ahead Of Winter Break

But Ayew

Marseille head into the Christmas break as joint ‘Winter Champions’ after a insipid win over Saint-Etienne saw them equal the 3 points attained by both psg and Lyon earlier in the weekend. A sole Andre Ayew goal at the end of the first half was the difference in the result, despite Sainte being the better of the two sides over 90 minutes.

Saint-Etienne started the brightest as OM looked like they were going to surrender their excellent home record against les verts. Despite their dominance, ASSE only managed to create half-chances from corners and set-pieces that were generally cleared with ease.

The game changed on 45 minutes though as Marseille netted from their first chance on target. Fanni, whose crosses had amounted to little so far, crossed from deep on the right and found Andre Ayew who headed to the far post beyond Ruffier. To go into half time leading 1-0 was more than OM deserved in all honesty, as OM lacked any vision in getting the ball into the final third. Jordan Ayew was non-existent, but so was any quality in delivery to him either.

The second half started in exactly the same way as the first as OM failed to get a foothold on the game. Once again, ASSE pushed and pressed and were happy to counter quickly when needed. Cheyrou’s absence in midfield was noticeable, as Barton was left to do the work of 2 men, Nkoulou also had an uncharacteristically poor game leaving Lucas Mendes and Rod Fanni to clear up on a number of occasions. When Gignac eventually appeared, he surprisingly replaced Valbuena, who had been OM’s most threatening player, instead of the ineffective Jordan Ayew as many would have expected. Gignac’s influence was immediately noticeable as he held up play up-front in a way that jAyew simply can’t.

Both teams had half chances towards the end, with Saint-Etienne, probably having the better chances. If ASSE hadn’t went 5 games without scoring, their strikers may have played with a little more confidence and would have (indeed should have) scored.

Marseille held out to demonstrate what they have done so effectively this season, win ugly. Despite not setting out with a boring game plan, they have systematically overcome teams who have stifled them, typically teams who play in a similar manner to OM. Marseille have shown clinical finishing, and solid defending in order to win 7 games just 1-0.

Credit must be given to Elie Baup who has given the team a sense of purpose and desire. There is a team ethic that was rarely evident towards the end of Deschamp’s reign. There are few who would have predicted Marseille equalling psg on points at the top of Ligue 1 at Christmas, even fewer predict the same for the end of the season. But, as psg and Lyon have the Champions League and Europa League to concentrate on respectively, who knows what may happen?!

Top players: Mandanda, Barton, Lucas Mendes and Fanni

Worst players: Kabore, Jordan Ayew and Amalfitano

Match highlights and goals

Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK)

November Player of the Month

Jordan Ayew PotM

In a rather inconsistent month for Marseille, there were thankfully some OM players who managed to remain slightly more consistent than others. Valbuena and Mandanda were a close 2nd and 3rd in our vote for November’s player of the month, but the clear winner was Jordan Ayew.

With Andre-Pierre Gignac out and Remy struggling for fitness it was left for jAyew to step in as the senior striker and he didn’t disappoint. Picking up goals in games against Ajaccio and Monchengladbach helped, but his performance and match winning goal against Lille will be what sticks in most people’s minds about Jordan in November.

Rumours were rife over the summer as loan moves to Saint-Etienne and Lorient were mooted amongst others, in a hope to see a talented, inconsistent and often immature players improve his game. Due to the lack of incoming players though, OM kept hold of Jordan and last month that paid dividends.

His performance against Lille was seen by many as a potential turning point for the enigmatic youngster. His potential has never been disputed, in fact many see him as being more talented than his sought after older sibling Andre, it’s been his mentality that people have questioned. The enforced inclusion of Jordan in the starting line-up lately though has been met with a sence of purpose and he has grasped the opportunity firmly. With such performances and valuable contributions in games it would seem difficult for Baup to drop jAyew even when Remy and Gignac are fit again.

Well done Jordan. Long may it continue.

Marseille v Lille – Match Preview

Sun 25/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Delayed on ESPN)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Laurent Duhamel

Background –

After a European expedition to be forgotten for both teams, Marseille and Lille may now feel that domestic competitions will take their full focus as they try and prise psg’s grip off the various trophies available. After weeks of poor luck with injuries, suspensions and results OM at least have the positive of welcoming back Loic Remy from injury and Joey Barton is in line to make his Ligue 1 debut.

Marseille –

The Marseille squad for the game consists of: Mandanda, Fabri, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mbow, Morel, Cheyrou, Kabore, Barton, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Raspentino, J. Ayew, Remy and Jobello.

The worries over the fitness of Valbuena (back) and Nkoulou (groin) seem to have been overcautious as both were included in the official squad release. Both Mendes and Amalfitano miss out though so if Valbuena and Nkoulou suffer a set-back, the squad will be stretched even further!

The inclusion of Barton in the starting eleven is likely to give a much needed lift to the OM squad and fans alike, as Baup tries to re-discover some of the early season discipline and strength that gave OM so many victories. Barton can support the striking qualities of Remy, with his ability for lofted passes and crosses from wide and deep angles also likely to cause potential problems for Basa and Chedjou in central defence, although there are fitness concerns over the latter and David Rozenhal may deputise.

With out a doubt Marseille’s most dangerous forward player has been Valbuena in recent weeks, with some of his link-up play and close ball control just being a delight to watch. If he can keep himself on his feet more, he will really damage any team on his day, and if he attacks down the right avoiding Debuchy he is likely to see more success.

Likely starting line up:

 

Who are they? –

As mentioned earlier, Lille’s European form has been poor, and their early season Ligue form wasn’t much better. It took them until the 8th week to pick up their 2nd win, but since then their form has improved and so have their results. Last week’s defeat at the hands of Lorient can be taken with a pinch of salt as Lorient are one of those teams who can (and often do) beat anyone on their day.

Aurelien Chedjou has been Lille’s rock at times this season. His performances from centre back have resulted in 3 goals from 16 games so far. On the ground Remy may find it difficult to get past Chedjou, and may stand a better chance in aerial challenges. The class of Dubuchy should go without saying but Andre Ayew will have to play one of his best games of the season if he is to have much luck against him. Up-top, the enigmatic Nolan Roux can be an incredibly difficult striker to play against. He manages to get himself into good positions, albeit sometimes offside ones, and can lose defenders easily, although as his 3 goals from 12 appearances will tell you, he often lacks consistency.

Summary –

With the some of the other top teams slipping up this weekend a god win for either team would keep them within touching distance of the Ligue 1 summit (OM would be joint 1st, whereas Lille would be 3 points behind that). Once again, Marseille will come up against a team that can be disciplined and difficult to break down, however, this is often when they have done well this season. Joey Barton may just be the man to light the blue touch paper and re-ignite Marseille’s season. If he is to do this, he will need to put in his best performance in an OM shirt. Tight game expected, though probably entertaining as it is not broadcast live.

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 Lille   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 2.25

Draw 3.00

Lille 3.50

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 Fixtures

Saint-Etienne 1-0 Valenciennes

psg 4-0 Troyes

Reims 0-0 Brest

Rennes 0-1 Evian

Bastia 2-1 Lorient

Nancy 1-1 Ajaccio

Sochaux 0-1 Nice

Montpellier v Bordeaux

Toulouse v Lyon

Bordeaux v Marseille – Match Preview

Sun 18/11/12 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)

Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux

Ref. – Lionel Jaffredo

Background –

With 3 minutes remaining against Mediterranean neighbours OGC Nice it looked like Marseille had banished their recent slump in form, when ex-OM man Abriel equalised and the game finished 2-2. Elie Baup directed veiled criticism at the team, citing a lack in concentration the reseason for the defeat and explaining that this was something he thought the team had managed to overcome. As he returns to his successful old stomping ground, Baup will have to make sure that there are no lapses in concentration or Bordeaux will punish les phocéens.

Marseille –

Along with the recent devastation of losing Andre-Pierre Gingac through injury, Loic Remy limped off against Nice after only 20 minutes. Ordinarily this would not be helpful for any team, but factor in the continued suspension of Joey Barton, Jordan Ayew’s ban and Amalfitano’s 2 match ban for his ridiculous bust-up with psg’s Matuidi and it is evident that the OM team really are down to the bare bones. Although the return of ex-Bordeaux man Diawara will be some comfort to Baup, he’s not likely to weigh-in with the kind of goals that APG, Remy, Ayew or Amalfitano can produce. An injury to Bracigliano has also prevented the back up ‘keeper from travelling with the squad.

Full team news to follow.

Who are they? –

Without a doubt one of the most (sursprisingly) consistent teams in Ligue 1 this calendar year have been Bordeaux. A 17 match unbeaten run was only recently halted by Newcastle United in the Europa League, and since then they have faltered only once, a 3-1 reverse at Bastia, and have consequently risen to within 2 points of the Ligue 1 summit. With no investment over the summer months and a number of squad players leaving, there are many similarities between how Bordeaux and Marseille prepared for the season.

The work-ethic of this Bordeaux team is one of their strong points, often seeming to swarm at the opposition when not in possession, and they can attack as a unit with frightening pace. 65% of goals for Bordeaux have come in the second half, this will need to be a time when Marseille are particularly focussed in order to avoid another Nice repeat.

The key player in whatever Bordeaux do is Polish international Ludovic Obraniak. The versatile midfielder has already netted 4 times this season and provided 3 assists. Given time Obraniak will hold onto the ball before setting through accurate passes for Jussie or Gouffran. Close him down and he can turn, dribble or pass his way out of trouble. Possibly the best way to combat Obraniak’s effectiveness will be to crowd the centre of midfield, forcing him out wide  and therefore limiting his central passing opportunities. This will require the cooperation and team work of both central midfielders and the two players playing down either flank, of course whilst doing this they can’t afford to forget about the players they ought to be marking too.

Summary –

Marseille’s last ligue victory at Bordeaux came in 1978, and on paper, despite OM’s high placing, it is difficult to imagine anything but that abysmal run continuing. With Marseille, however, anything is possible. Take the recent away win at Ajaccio for example. A nortoriously difficult place to visit and Marseille had a poor record there, but Baup set the team up to dominate the midfield and the players played with determinism and discipline that resulted in a comfortable 2-0 victory. NUFC, played much the same way against Bordeaux in the Europa League, pushing high up the pitch and leaving a huge gulf between the Bordeaux midfield and attack that led to few chances for the strikers. In the current context this may be OM’s most difficult game of the season and a draw would be seen as a good result.

Predicted score: Bordeaux 2v1 Marseille   

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Bordeaux 2.20

Draw 3.10

Marseille 3.50

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 Fixtures

Lorient 2v0 Lille

psg v Rennes

Brest v Bastia

Valenciennes v Montpellier

Evian v Saint-Etienne

Ajaccio v Sochaux

Troyes v Nancy

Lyon v Reims

Nice v Toulouse

Marseille v Evian – Preview

Sun 23/09/12 – 16:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Nicolas Rainville

Background –

Marseille will play their third game in the space of a week as they return to domestic action to face Evian. A hard fought victory against AS Nancy in week 5 kept up OM’s 100% record in the ligue, and a late fight-back against tough Turkish team Fenerbahce shows the team really does have the guts it they appeared to lack throughout last season. The opposition have had quite the opposite start to the season, losing 3 of their opening 4 games, although the 1-1 draw against Lyon and last week’s 3-0 defeat of Bastia will give Evian a much needed boost in confidence. Last week’s win, lifted Evian out of the early relegation zone and was Pascal Dupraz’s first game in charge of the team after they parted ways with Pablo Correa.

Marseille –

Having dominated possession and much of the mid-week Europa League game against Fenerbahce, Marseille entered the final 10 minutes of the game looking t a 2-0 defeat. Despite numerous chances, OM just hadn’t managed to find the goal and just as it seemed that OM would face their first defeat of the season some magic from Valbuena gave them a lifeline. Andre Ayew then completed a spectular comeback after meeting a corner and heading home. The look of joy from all on the pitch was a treat to watch, as well as the sounds of pleasure from an unashamedly biased French commentary team. Having spent so much of last season failing to show any signs of determination or fight, Marseille showed that they have that in abundance this season.

Other news from the game was that Joey Barton made a solid debut. Although he is still banned from domestic competitions for another 8 games, Europe will at least offer him some game time and will offer OM some variability in midfield. Loic Remy also made a promising return, completing just over 70 minutes.

After the inclusion and subsequent injury of NDiaye on Thursda evening, Elie Baup will be likely to revert to the same defensive line-up that have only conceded once in the ligue this season, with Kabore reclaiming his place at right-back, despite the positivity shown by Fanni in this position midweek. If fit, Abdullah will take his place in the defensive midfield position with Cheyrou and after being rested for most of the European game it would be no surprise if top-scoring, high in confidence Gignac returns to lead the line against Evian.

Only time will tell how Baup deals with the innevatble selection dilemma of Gignac or Remy. For most of the past season this would have been a no-brainer, however, because of Gignac’s tremendous start to the season it would seem incredibly unfair to drop him. At the same time, having been linked with many moves away, and OM managing to desperately hold on to him, Remy is not likely to be too keen to sit on the bench only making the odd European start. Keeping both players happy will be tough if they are both fit, leaving another option as starting both. This would, however, mean a shift in formation from the 4231 which has worked so effectively this season. This year the link-up play between defence and attack has been seemless, something the squad struggled with under Deschamps. A shift to a more rigid 442 would surely stifle what is often an attacking four (Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew and Gignac). The choice of the 2 defensive midfielders, Cheyrou and Abdullah/Barton/Kabore this season has also supported a rather fragile defence. The extra player in the centre has pushed other teams out wide more often, leaving them with little choice but to try and take on Fanni or Morel, something both players are actually very good at dealing with, or playing in crosses, something that Mandanda is very good at dealing with.

The inclusion of Abdallah and Mendes in the match-day squad will be relief to Baup, whose defensive choices were starting to become limited at best. They may feature at some point in the game, though it would be sensible of Baup to give the defence some stability and keep the same line-up that started against Nancy. The full squad consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Abdallah, Morel, Mbow, Mendes, Kabore, Abdullah, Cheyrou, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, J. Ayew.

Likely starting line-up and formation:

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, particularly away from home, only losing 6 times on the road, compared to OM’s 10. This season though, Evian have struggled to recreate that style of play. Already this season 20 different players have started games for them (OM have 15 including Azpi and Mbia), hardly allowing a team lacking in confidence from defeats to start to build any form of relationship or understanding. Their swift counter-attacking play has not seemed as threatening this season either, often long balls forward, or through balls leading to their chances. This is something that OM’s defence have improved in dealing with this season.

As is often the case, a team’s form picks up when a new manager takes over and last week’s victory for Evian was no exception. Having said that, Dupraz’s impact was also shown in the manner of their victory over Bastia. Hints of some of the stylistic qualities in Evian’s play were creeping back in, and the team showed an immediate confidence in what they were doing.

Attacking-midfielder Cedric Barbosa is Evian’s one to watch. His 2 goals against Bastia, helped inspire ETG to their first victory of the season. The seasoned professional, whose career has taken him to Montpellier, Rennes and Troyes can be a threat down the left or through the centre. Although he isn’t the quickest of players, his passing accuracy and vision is what can cause other teams problems wherever he plays. If he starts on the left for Evian, Kabore would do well to push him towards the flanks, and as long as Fanni/Nkoulou track any runs by Sagbo or Khelifa, any through balls played by Barbosa should amount to very little. Barbosa also takes a mean set-piece, he hit a 20 yard free kick off the bar against Bastia, so a disciplined approach to defending and no silly tackles will help ensure this isn’t a problem.

In their defeats this season, Evia showed some vulnerability down the wings, again an area that OM have exploited well this season, particularly against Fenerbahce. Therefore when attacking, getting the ball to Amalfitano and Ayew will be a top priority. Valbuena can provide this link if the ball is played quickly up through the centre and also support the wide men if needed.

Summary –

This time last season, Marseille picked up their first win of the campaign over Evian at home, this time they are hoping that they can avoid a first defeat, or draw for that matter. With Lorient and PSG both playing what they would consider ‘winnable’ games against Nice and Bastia respectively, it is imperative that OM keep as much distance between themselves and the rest of the ligue as possible. If Evian had not recently changed managers, this may appear as a routine game. But the new coach, and talk of a European hangover, will hopefully ensure that OM do not become complaicent in this game.

Predicted score: Marseille 2-0 Evian  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 1.40

Draw 4.20

Evian 9.00

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Weekends other Ligue 1 games

Friday

Montpellier 1v1 Saint-Etienne

Saturday

Bastia 0v4 PSG

Reims 2v0 Nancy

Toulouse 2v2 Rennes

Brest 2v1 Valenciennes

Lorient 1v1 Nice

Sochaux 3v1 Troyes

Sunday

Bordeaux v Ajaccio

Lille v Lyon