Tag Archives: Champions League

Au Revoir Champions League

OM BVB2

Marseille play their last European game of the season tonight as they face German side Borussia Dortmund. OM are hoping to avoid becoming the first former European Champions to end their group campaign on 0 points, whereas Dortmund need a win to secure their progression into the next round. In group F, the only certainty is that Marseille will finish bottom. Arsenal are likely to qualify as they already sit on 12 points, however, a big Napoli win and Dortmund win, could see them miss out and have to make do with 3rd place and the Europa League place it brings.

Marseille, of course have a new man in charge, former Sporting Director, Jose Anigo, who has managed the club before between 2001-2005. Elie Baup was given his marching orders after Friday’s defeat to Nantes. The defeat in itself, was not the sole reason as Nantes have been a formidable side at the start of this season, however, 5 other ligue defeats, 13 points adrift from 1st place, an abysmal display in the Champions League and generally poor performances all round left the club with little choice in sacking Baup, something many fans had been calling for since October. Anigo has European management experience, as he took OM to the Europa final in 2004, only to be beaten by Valencia, but it remains to be seen if he can inspire this squad to take on the might of Jurgen Klopp.

Anigo will need an immediate response from his threadbare squad if they are to avoid the indignity of finishing with 0 points as he has a host of senior players missing. Andre Ayew, Valbuena and Abergel are injured, while Nkoulou and Romao are suspended. As a result Baptiste Aloe and Momar Bangoura take their place in the match day squad, although they are unlikely to feature at any point. Anigo’s full squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Aloe, Cheyrou, Imbula, Thauvin, Lemina, Bangoura, Jordan Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa and Payet.

Now, nearly match fit, Rod Fanni may start at right back with Mendes taking the place of Nkoulou. In the past Anigo has made no secret of his dislike of Morel, so it could be expected that Mendy starts at left back. For consistency, the midfield and forward players are likely to be set up in banks of 3 with Cheyrou, Imbula and Lemina playing behind, Payet, Gignac and Thauvin. It will be interesting to see if Anigo plays this way as OM struggled in this set up against Arsenal last time out and Dortmund are more than capable of playing possession and passing football too.

Likely line-up and formation:

Mandanda

Fanni Diawara Mendes Mendy

Lemina Cheyrou Imbula

Payet Gignac Thauvin

 

The Champions League is likely to bring a welcome break for Klopp and his team as in the Bundesliga, they have lost 3 of their last 4 games (1-2 Wolfsburg, 0-3 Bayern, 0-1 Leverkusen) and are now a disappointing 10 points off 1st place. In the Champions League they have won 1 away game and lost the other. Klopp is likely to be without Gundogan, Schmelzer, Hummels, Bender and Subotic through injury, while Sahin is a doubt. Abameyang may make a return to French soil, however, this is likely to be from the bench.

The one positive for OM could be that the absence of Hummels and Subotic in defence means that BVB may have to play Manuel Friedrich in defence. Despite the 34 year old making nealy 150 appearances for Bayer Leverkusen over the past 6 yearsm he has only made 3 league starts with Dortmund this year.

Likely line-up and formation:

Weidenfller

Piszczek Freidrich Sokratis Durm

Grosskreutz Kelh

Blaszczykowski Mkhitaryan Reus

Lewandowski

 

The OM fans are likely to make this a memorable occasion, as at the minute it looks like it could be a while before we see Champions League football at the Velodrome again. The 2 automatic qualification spots will most likely go to psg and Monaco, and Lille seem streets ahead in consistent ligue form right now, for the 3rd play off spot. It would be a huge shame to miss out on Champions League football, particularly when the Velodrome is complete, however, we need to get the management structure in place, a competitive squad in place and get back to fighting for the domestic title, before we can even consider pushing for Champions League ¼ finals again.

Allez l’OM
Andrew (@aswanny84 @marseilleUK)

Advertisements

Arsenal 2-0 Marseille – 26/11/13

Supporting a team from a different city or country is never going to be an easy thing, but with the social media and technology we have today I have found it easier and easier watch Marseille games from a distance and from the comfort of my sofa. Unfortunately watching them in person, hasn’t got that much easier for me. You can’t fly from Newcastle to Marseille, often the only flight into France is to Paris, trains to London are obscenely priced to then make a connection, oh, and I’m a teacher too so unless there’s a game during the holidays I couldn’t go anyway. But, every once in a while you feel like someone is smiling and looking over you as when the Champion’s League fixtures were announced, fate would have it that I was already booked on a training course in London on the day of the Arsenal game. What an opportunity! So I made my best plans to get hold of tickets in the away end.

Unfortunately the tickets that a few of us were expecting, never arrived, after a hold up at Paris airport (damn Parisians!). Richard, who had ordered the tickets desperately tried everything to make arrangements, including getting in touch with the supporters group, trying to get replacements, even speaking to Arsenal explaining the situation, but unfortunately nothing happened. So with less than 24 hours to the game we sent out some emergency tweets, asking anyone for an RT in an attempt to find some spare tickets, I was even contacting Arsenal supporting friends asking about tickets in the home end out of sheer desperation! Good friends on twitter were asking around too, but it wasn’t looking good, so I sulked off to bed in an attempt to get some sleep before the big day.

The day started at 3:30, with a quick coffee, bite to eat and then de-ice of the car before setting off to Doncaster (last train back to Newcastle leaves London at 10.00, meaning I’d have to leave the game at half time to get home, whereas last train to Doncaster is 11.30 meaning I could stay for the whole game, but does involve 2 hour drive each way). An ambient musical playlist was provided by The XX, Fleetwood Mac with a little bit of Van Halen (‘Jump’) thrown in to get me into the mood for hopefully watching OM. As I sat waiting for my train to London, I couldn’t help worry that the trip would be in vain, as I still had no ticket and would be relying on someone having a spare, so began planning what tourist sites I could later visit in London as I waited for my late return train. As the train neared London, re-tweets started flashing through and a message from Liam came through asking if I was down for the game, I explained the situation, and after hearing that he’d try and sort something, my reception was lost to London’s mighty tunnels and underground system.

Photo 26-11-2013 17 42 25

When I emerged from Earl’s Court tube stop, the phone vibrated and as I looked I saw a message from Liam: ‘Sorted’. Enough said. My course was good enough, but it was a struggle to stop my mind from wandering to the thought of being in such a fantastic ground, in with the OM ultras. After finishing up, it was time to head over to Kings Cross. I met up with Ben, a huge OM fan, and we chatted about OM, life, work and everything in between like a pair of old mates who hadn’t seen each other for years. Photo 26-11-2013 18 32 35As good as the beer was, we both had one thing to sort still, tickets. Off we headed to the Emirates. Ben went to meet Franky, top honcho amongst the Virage Sud ultras, and I headed to meet Liam and his ‘contact’. Time was getting on, and I was still a bit worried that the tickets might not materialise, so when we met Karim, and he didn’t have them I was flapping a little. As Karim’s contact showed up shortly after and distributed tickets amongst his friends, it looked even worse as Karim started to count numbers on his hands and anxiously looked in our direction. Finally, Karim’s contact handed him a couple more, and we had them! Panic over, worry ended, excitement building, beer time. We headed to the nearby pub and met up with Ben, Franky and Marek, and we all headed into the back room where the OM fans were already in full voice.

Photo 26-11-2013 19 03 37As exciting as it was, to be amongst the ultras, singing away happily with their Arsenal counterparts, it was game time so we headed to the away section. After a quick bag search and pat down, we were in and headed for our ‘seats’. Security quickly told us, ‘just find anywhere mate, no one’s sitting where they should be’. He was right, no one was sitting where they should have been, and they weren’t even standing where they should’ve been, in fact when the game kicked of everyone was standing on the seat of any space they could find. I wasn’t to complain though, as I ended up only 12 rows or so from the front even closer to the flag waving, chanters, who I’d really wanted to be amongst. The Emirates as a stadium is undoubtedly impressive. Fair facilities in the away end and even padded seats. The curvature of the top of the stands reminded me a little of the Velodrome, but unfortunately, as with most modern stadiums it lacks a little character, as did the atmosphere for most of the evening.  Aside from the obvious 2 cheers from home fans, the most noise came when Arsenal made their substitutions. An occasional chant of ‘Ar-se-nal’ rang round a few times along with a semi-impressive call and response song between the Clock end and North Bank, though nowhere near the spectacle that the Virage Nord and Sud create at the Velodrome.

Photo 26-11-2013 19 42 28

So after all of the excitement what better way to start a game than to go 0-1 down within the opening minute? Typical. OM were tore apart down the left as Morel and Khalifa in particular struggled with Arsenal’s dominance and slick passing play. OM struggled to get a foothold on the game, as Arsenal passed the ball around them with ease. Even when Marseille did manage to win a tackle and retain the ball, the midfield 3 of Lemina, Romao and Imbula where too far away from the forward 3 of Jordan Ayew, Gignac and Khalifa, so hopefull through-balls and punts up the pitch where never going to help. In truth a change in formation to the usual 4-2-3-1, or even a temporarily defensive 4-5-1 would have helped to control the game a little more. It was almost inevitable that without Valbuena, Payet and Thauvin in the starting 11, OM would find it difficult against a team as good as Arsenal, particularly with the confidence that Arsenal have at the moment, but the lack lustre performance from a number of the OM players was difficult to take as a fan. The fans did manage to air their grievances a little, and made sure that Jordan Ayew understood what they thought of his typically lethargic performance as he was substituted in the 2nd half.

Keeping the game at 0-1 was mainly down to Mandanda, who had another of his incredible games, pulling of some great saves including a penalty save from Ozil in the 1st half. Nkoulou and Mendes did manage to snuff out many attacks too once the ball inevitably made its way into the centre after going past either Abdallah or Morel all too often.

Wilshere’s 2nd of the game really took the wind out of the OM sails, as with 30 minutes left and the introduction of Valbuena and Thauvin, it looked like Marseille might actually fancy getting something out of the game. Half chances were few and far between though, with an audacious lob by Gignac being cleared on the goal line the closest we managed, before two late Thauvin strikes were saved well by Szczesny.

Unfortunately the full time whistle went without even a consolation goal to cheer me up about the remaining return part of my journey. Valbuena, Romao and Mandanda noticeably came over to pay tribute to the OM fans at the end of the game, with Romao giving his shirt to one supporter at the front who had presumably lost his own as he spent the entire chilly night topless, clapping and chanting.

A mere 7 hours after the game finished I eventually climbed into bed and managed a grand 2 hours sleep before having to get up for work. It was a good sleep though, dreaming about my mini adventure, and thinking about the fantastic people I met. I hope it won’t be too long before I meet Franky, Marek, Liam and Ben again, weather that’s in London, Newcastle or hopefully even in the Velodrome, it doesn’t really matter.

My eye-balls literally feel like Ferero-Roches as I write this, and you know what, I’d do it all again tomorrow if I could.

Allez l’OM!

Andrew (@aswanny84 & @MarseilleUK)

Rennes and Napoli Reports

02/11/13 – Rennes 1-1 Marseille

The main positive that could be said about this game was, at least we stopped the rot, and avoided another defeat.

After another poor to a game, Marseille were lucky to be only 0-1 down within 10 minutes. Defensive blunders aplenty gave Rennes 3 good chances, but it was Oliver’s second chance that opened the scoring. A Morel mistake (huge surprise there) gifted Olivier the ball on the edge of the area and he let rip with a shot that left Mandanda with little chance of saving it.

This at least seemed to spur OM on, who seemed to wake up. On 14 minutes after Valbuena and Thauvin had already combined to warm Cotsil’s hands, Jordan Ayew managed to grab a goal. It came on the back of some good work from Romao who played in Abdallah whose accurate cross found jAyew who slotted home into an almost empty goal.

As much as OM dominated parts of the game, Rennes always looked incredibly dangerous on the counter with Kadir, Pitroipa and Alessandrini combining well often.

The second half brought much of the same with Thauvin and Valbuena looking the most lively of the OM players, but it looked to have been in vain when OM loan man Kadir was fouled in the box and Rennes awarded a penalty. Thankfully, Mandanda made up for some of his recent shaky performances with a fine save.

The game was possibly still there for the taking but some negative changes from Baup, would suggest that he was more than happy to hang on to a point.

 

06/11/13 Napoli 3-2 Marseille

With little more than pride to play for, along with an outside chance of finishing 3rd and a Europa League spot, Marseille started the game well. Seemingly away from the pressures of their own fans or just being out of the country, or perhaps they found a little bit of determination and desire, they passed well and found space and put the home side under pressure early on.

This start got even better when Andre Ayew opened the scoring on 10 minutes after he headed in an excellent corner from Thauvin.

Unfortunately that’s where most of the positives ended. OM defence capitulated in their usual spectacular fashion gifting first Inler and the Higuain perfect opportunities that they converted spectacularly and easily.

This was all within 25 minutes and it looked like it could be another of those nights where we were embarrassed on a global stage, out of Europe without so much of a whimper.

Somehow though we held on. Thauvin in particular had the kind of game that he is capable of, while Valbuena continued with his ever impressive consistently good form. Thauvin’s hard work and endeavour looked to have paid off for OM as he netted in the 65th minute.

Unfortunately, as good as we were in attack, we were equally, if not worse in defence. This allowed Huguain to net his second with 15 minutes left to play as he netted in acres of space.

It is desperately disappointing that after missing out on Champion’s League football last season we have 0 points from 4 games this time out. With our remaining games against Dortmund and Arsenal our best hope is to at least have some more positive performances and finish with some points! Lets enjoy those last few games as fans because who knows when we’ll be back in the Champion’s League at this rate!

Allez l’OM

(@aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)

 

Champions League Match Day 4: Napoli v Marseille

Marseille return to Champions League action against Naopli still looking to get their first points on the board. If OM have any hopes of making 3rd place, and dropping into the Europa League they must win.

A break in defeats was welcomed at the weekend, however, a draw against Rennes is still disappointing for a team that help title hopes at the start of the season. The result may have also given Elie Baup a very slight reprieve from calls for him to be axed, but fans are still anxious for a positive performance on the European front.

This is unlikely to come easily against a Napoli team now second in Serie A, who have won all 3 games since the 2 teams last met, scoring twice in each game and only conceding 2 in total.

Andre Ayew returns to the squad with Laurent Abergel making way for him. Lucas Mendes and Rod Fanni are still out.

The full Marseille squad is: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, J. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet

Most of the squad line up will be fairly predictable, but with Gignac making way for Jordan Ayew in the ligue, he may opt to play the inconsistent youngster in Europe too.

Likely line up and formation:

Mandanda

Abdallah – Nkoulou – Diawara – Morel

Romao – Imbula

Payet – Valbuena – A. Ayew

J. Ayew

 

Napoli managed to restrict OM’s creativity quite well in the last game and it would be understandable for them to play a high defensive line again to stifle Valbuena’s options. If he has to unload the ball nearer the middle of the field, it leaves Ayew and Payet with a great deal more running, increases the amount of support required by Abdallah and Morel, therefore leaving OM susceptible to the swift Napoli counter-attack that we seen so often last time out.

If OM want to push for what would be condered by most as a shock win they may need to look for a change in formation. A 4-1-4-1 formation with Imbula making way for Thauvin would allow A. Ayew and Valbuena greater freedom to support each other and their respective wingers. Or a 4-4-2 formation with Gignac and J. Ayew up front would mean APG could support Ayew on the left, Jordan could support Payet on the right and create greater space for Valbuena to try and exploit through the centre.

Fingers crossed for an entertaining game though, and here’s hoping for a much better OM performance.

 

Andrew (@Aswanny84 & @marseilleUK)

Valenciennes – Marseille – 24/08/13 – Match Preview

24/08/13 – 16:00 (UK – Replayed 25/08/13 08:00 on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 3
Valenciennes – Marseille
Stade du Hainault, Valenciennes

VAFC OM

After a fantastic start to the season and a 100% record, OM headed to bitter rivals* Valenciennes only to be humiliated in a 4-1 defeat. This is was happened in week 7 of Ligue 1 last year and Marseille will be keen to avoid a repeat of this abysmal performance. Marseille have again managed a 100% record, winning 2 from 2, Valenciennes have won one and lost one.

Marseille

Giannelli Imbula won’t feature, he was withdrawn at half-time against Evian with an ankle injury. Imbula thankfully returned to training on Thursday, although this was just a fitness session away from the rest of the squad, and it was decided he was not yet recovered enough to feature. 

Having played relatively well against Evian it looks increasingly likely that both Diawara and Morel will keep their starting places ahead of Mendes and Mendy. Failing a injury or suspension to either, we are in the situation where unless they play incredibly poorly, they are likely to keep their places, of course in a tight game a bad performance from either of those players could result in conceding a goal and losing, so for the benefit of the team, we may have to keep them in the 11!

The final new signing of the summer, Saber Khalifa, who missed the games against Guingamp and Evian is fit enough to make it into the squad, although it is not expected that he will start.

As obvious as it may sound, Payet, Valbuena and Andre Ayew should be the focus of OM’s attack. Valenciennes can be susceptible to attacks down the wings and often give away free kicks around the 18-yard box. The close link-up play between Payet/Valabuena and Gignac has been excellent so far this season and their skill and control should help them overcome a Valenciennes defence that conceded 53 goals last season.

Full Marseille team: Mandanda, Smaba, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Kadir, Romao, Valbuena, j. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet, Khalifa.

OM formation

Valenciennes

Daniel Sanchez’ team limped to the summer last season, only picking up 19 points from the final 19 games. They will be hoping to secure safety early this term though and push for a top-10 finish. This will be tough for VAFC though who lost Nicola Isimat Mirin (Monaco) and Gael Danic (Lyon). They have signed Bahebeck (psg), Chitu (Vitorul Constanta), Enza Yamissi (Troyes), Doumbia (Wolves), Novaes (Bastia). Out of these signings it is only striker Bahebeck, who is yet to open his scoring account for VAFC, who is most likely to start. Given his first performances he is likely to be involved in VAFC’s build up play and he set up one of the goals in their 3-0 win over Toulouse.

Rudy Mater has had an excellent start to the season. The right-back has pushed forwards helping with the VAFC attacks. As a result, 43% of Valenciennes’ attacks have come down the right this season. Interestingly, 46% of OM’s attacks have come down their left with Andre Ayew (not down the right with new signing Dimitri Payet). This should make for an interesting battle on the Marseille left side, with perhaps the successful team being the one that has the most success here.

Full Valenciennes squad: Novaes, Penneteau, Angoua, Lala, Nery, Mater, Traoré, Chitu, Da Silva, Dossevi, Doumbia, Ducourtioux, Kaboré, Melikson, Saez, Bahebeck, Le Tallec, Nguette.

VAFC Formation

Summary
After having to overcome the 1-4 defeat at the hands of Valenciennes last season in order to push psg close to the title, OM will need to make sure they don’t drop any points needlessly so early on in the season, especially given the start that title contenders Monaco have had. If OM keep their defence tighter, which they did improve in the Evian match, they should have enough in attack to ensure a win.

Stats
Marseille have only won 1 of their last 7 trips to VAFC.
Valenciennes are unbeaten in their last 4 games against OM.
Marseille have conceded 3 or more goals in their last 4 visits to Valenciennes.

 

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 23rd
Monaco 0-0 Toulouse
Sat 24th
Toulouse – Bordeaux
Montpellier – Sochaux

Lyon – Reims
Bordeaux – Bastia
Evian – Rennes
Guingamp – Lorient
Sun 25th
Lille – Saint-Etienne
Ajaccio – Nice
Nantes – psg

 

Allez l’OM
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)

*In 1993, the year that Marseille won the Champions League they also won Ligue 1 for the 5th consecutive time. The week of the Champions League final against AC Milan, OM had a game against Valenciennes which, if they won, would mean that they would win the Ligue without having to beat title rivals psg in their final game of the season. Marseille beat Valenciennes 1-0 and as a result secured the Ligue 1 title before going on to beat AC Milan in the final to be crowned European Champions. Unfortunately, though rightly, it emerged that Valenciennes player, Jacques Glassman and two of his team mates had been bribed by OM player Jean-Jacques Eydelie to take it easy in the game between the two sides. In the fall out of the bribery OM were stripped of the Ligue 1 title and relegated. As a result there has always been a little tension between the clubs and fans.

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

Bayern Munich v Marseille (2-0) – Champions League 1/4 Final 2nd leg – Match Preview

from OM.net

from OM.net

Date: 03/04/12

Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)

Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich

 

Report of the 1st leg –

Marseille came into the match winless in 8 games and having lost 7 of those fixtures. The 1-1 draw at Nice a few days before was a slight morale boost, but realistically OM had played really badly there and were fortunate to escape with a point. Fans and everyone associated with the club were hoping that a CL match with Bayern would bring the best out of the players and that this surprise CL run might continue.

Injuries haven’t been kind to OM since the turn of the year and again for this game, coach Didier Deschamps was given a number of problems to contend with. Diawara is out for 6 months with a cruciate ligament problem, Loic Remy has yet to recover from his thigh injury, whilst Andre Ayew really needs some shoulder surgery to fix his problem in that department. Add to the fact that Jordan Ayew often seems to have some sort of niggle, and Andre Pierre Gignac genuinely looks like a fatter bastard than ever before!

Deschamps opted to field 3rd choice keeper Andrade for this game. In some ways I can understand that decision; Bracigliano looked really poor in the cup game against Quevilly, but playing Andrade was definitely a massive risk. He also started with Remy and Andre Ayew, clearly deciding to gamble in a big game like this one. The problem was that both of the latter two were clearly not at full fitness and their capacity to produce was certainly decreased because of this. Remy missed a massive chance to open the scoring after 6 mins from close range, he should’ve done way better.

The first half was largely uneventful, and OM could take heart from this. Bayern were expected to come here and dominate, but they didn’t prove themselves to be the clearly superior team. Yes, they looked better on the ball and yes they had more intent, but overall OM did a solid job. Unfortunately though, the hosts couldn’t complete the job and just before the interval Gomez was played through the middle. He got the shot on target, Andrade parried but didn’t do enough to prevent the goal. Really the goalkeeper should have done far better, let’s just say that Steve Mandanda would’ve definitely prevented the Germans from scoring.

In the 2nd half, OM started well enough and actually looked threatening inside the first 15 mins of it. They showed a high energy drive, but couldn’t find an equaliser. Andrade made a good save to keep it a 0-1, but there was nothing he could do to deny Robben from close range in the 69th minute and Bayern led 2-0. The rest of the match was pretty much a procession. Bayern controlled the game and OM never looked like getting a goal or finding a way back into it. It seemed like the visitors were never out of 2nd gear and probably could’ve scored more goals if they wanted to. The final whistle went and a disappointed Stade Velodrome crowd had to accept that this seasons Champions League dream was effectively over.

OM probably played better than a lot of people expected them to do here, but it still wasn’t enough. Bayern were better and I’d say they probably had a lot more in the tank if they needed it. The gamble to start Andrade backfired, whilst using the ‘unfit’ Remy and Ayew didn’t pay off either. OM now have 6 days to prepare for the 2nd leg in Germany, but if they turned this deficit around it’d be a miracle. Quite simply the team isn’t playing anywhere near well enough at the moment, and unless Mandanda has a superb game the score-line could get ugly.

Steve (@MarseilleUK and @meatmansoccer)

Marseille Team selection –

Having (over) generously been given the weekend off from ligue action, avoiding a game against table-topping Montpellier, Marseille have had a week to prepare for and fully concentrate on overcoming a 2 goal deficit against Bayern Munich.

First choice ‘keeper Steve Mandanda is available after suspension and will man the goal, bringing some confidence and experience that 3rd choice Andrade couldn’t provide at the Velodrome. The only other likely change will see the suspended Diarra replaced by Kabore.

Much of OM’s game-plan will be the same as the previous game trying to use the width provided by Amalfitano and A.Ayew to attack the Bayern defenders. Valbuena should look to support both players as well as the sole striker, Remy, as he will undoubtedly be free to roam where he pleases by Deschamps.

For large parts of the first leg, Marseille managed to contain Bayern successfully and looked threatening on the counter-attack. As Bayern will be likely to play with far more confidence in front of their own supporters, this is likely to be Marseille’s game plan again. Attacking wise, Azpilicueta and Morel must overlap and support Amilfatano and Ayew respectively. Defensively, Marseille must keep track of their men more efficiently. Both Bayern goals came from slack marking and players being dragged out of position, this is where Kabore and Mbia will help support the defence, although in order for this to be successful they must man mark instead of zonally mark, as the Robben and Ribery are simply too quick and skilful, and will slip through slack marking.

 

Bayern Munich –

Bayern played at 12th placed Nurnberg this Saturday just gone and managed to pick up a 1-0 victory thanks to a 70th minute strike by Arjen Robben.

Although Bastien Schweinsteiger is the only confirmed absentee, manager Jupp Heynckes may alter his squad knowing that 6 of his players are only a booking away from missing a possible semi-final tie. Any changes may benefit Marseille, as one of the weaknesses that @redrobbery offered ahead of the first leg was the lack of depth in Bayern’s squad.

 

 

Summary –

So, Marseille travel to Germany needing a huge victory to progress to the next round of the Champions League, just as they did at the beginning of December when they prepared to face Dortmund.

Most already have this game as a write off, giving OM no chance at all. Current form agrees. However, no team is unbeatable, and on their day we know Marseille can be amongst the best. I hope for an all-out Marseille performance, thousands of miles away from the poisonous atmosphere of the Velodrome with protesting fans’ only supporting by default as they boo the opposition more than their own players. Away from the pressures of French media, away from every other team’s fans hoping for an OM humiliation despite them being the only team left in the competition offering anything positive for the infamous ‘coefficient’ ratings. More than anything I hope for some pride. This season has been abysmal, average and then just plain awful. Wins have been achieved as a result of other teams being slightly worse than ourselves, or ‘big’ teams bottling big games. Please, if this is going to be our last Champions League game for at least a season, give us something good to remember, give us a reason to be proud Marseille supporters again.

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)