Coupe de la Ligue
Olympique Lyon v Olympique Marseille
Stade de Gerland, Lyon
15/01/2014, 19:55 (UK)
Live on ESPN
Marseille will look to keep up their 100% record in the New Year as they face their toughest test of 2014 so far in the Coupe de la Ligue away at Lyon. A win would take OM into the semi-finals of the competition that they won 3 years on the bounce between 2010-2012, before succumbing to psg early in the competition last year.
Positive performances before the winter break and successive victories in the Coupe de France and Ligue 1 will ensure that the OM squad head into this game with some confidence, helped by the earlier than expected return of Matthieu Valbuena from injury.
Jose Anigo’s travelling squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Lemina, Diop, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet & Thauvin.
It is unlikely that Valbuena will start the game on his return from injury, but he may feature late on, depending on the nature of the game. The only other surprise is the inclusion of Oumar Diop, who again will be in the squad purely as emergency cover.
Likely line-up and formation:
Fanni Nkoulou Diawara Mendy
Payet Thauvin Khalifa
Remi Garde’s side have struggled a little this season, similarly to OM. They currently sit 9th in the ligue, 4 points behind OM and more concerning for them is that they have not made the Stade de Gerland the fortress it has been in previous seasons. Since the start of the season, OL fans have only witnessed 4 ligue wins, 7 wins in total. However, what will make this game difficult for OM is that, although Lyon may not have won as many as one might expect, they have only lost twice at home in 17 games. That was way back in August against Real Sociedad in Europe and Reims in the ligue.
Lyon’s match-day squad is made up from: Vercoutre, Gorgelin, Bedimo, Bisevic, Kone, Lopes, Untiti, Zaffane, Fekir, Fofana, Gonalons, Gourcuff, Grenier, Malbranque, Briand, Gomis, Lacazette and Njie.
Expected line-up and formation:
Lopes Bisavic Umtiti Bedimo
Fofana Gonalons Grenier
This will be a tough test for both sides, who arrive at this match with similar current form. With outside chances of Champions League football for both sides, a Coupe de la Ligue win could put a little gloss on perhaps otherwise disappointing seasons for both clubs. OM will have to be wary of the threat from Gourcuff, who is having a good run in the squad free from injury and is playing with some of the confidence that made him such a sought after player when OL signed him. They can counter attack with stunning pace, as we found out in the ligue last season and will attack down the wings regularly so both Payet and Khalifa will need to support Fanni and Mendy more frequently than in previous games. From here they will also look to cross in for Gomis and Lacazette, perhaps man-marking from Nkoulou and Diawara in these situations would be best with Cheyrou and Romao dropping back to clear any loose balls.
Andrew (@aswanny84 & @MarseilleUK)