01/09/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 4
Marseille – Monaco
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
As the only side in Ligue 1 with a 100% record, Marseille face their toughest test to date as they face the team that many expect to overtake OM into 2nd spot this season, AS Monaco. OM have had mixed performances so far, with exciting and entertaining football in patches against Guingamp and Evian, replaced by the hard work but dull and efficient performance against Valenciennes. The same can be said about our Mediterranean neighbours. They were clinical and efficient in the season opener against Bordeaux with 2 late goals, entertaining and excellent against Montpellier followed by dull and drab against Toulouse. Sunday’s game will be a clear indicator of the title credentials of either team.
Gianelli Imbula who missed out on the game against Valenciennes, but has taken part in some training, is part of the squad and may start. The rest of the squad is expected to be the same, with Payet and Gignac’s confidence boosted with their inclusion in the French national squad for the upcoming internationals along with Mandanda and Valbuena. The late omission of Morel, means it is likely that Mendy will start again, having missed the last 2 games.
Diawara and Morel will be likely to keep their places in defence along with Nkoulou and Fanni. With keeping the same defensive unit for the 3rd game in a row, hopefully their increased understanding and communication with Mandanda will help keep the Monaco attackers at bay.
It is fair to say that Monaco have not yet really been tested since their return to Ligue 1. In their wins over Bordeaux and Montpellier, and goalless draw with Toulouse the apposition have only managed 9 shots on target (Bordeaux (6), Montpellier (3) Toulouse (0)). OM should offer a more clinical attack than those 3 teams, given that OM have averaged 6 shots on target per game so far giving a goal conversion rate of 33%. In other words, give Gignac and Payet chances to shoot and Marseille should score.
Full Marseille squad: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Nkoulou, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, J. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet, Khalifa.
Claudio Renieri’s team have impressed most so far this season, particularly with how well their many signings have gelled. The quality of Monaco’s signings is not in question, but their ability to grind out a result when facing some of the ligue’s better teams has not yet been seen. Toulouse put up quite a fight and managed to stifle the Monaco creative play and attack, and under this pressure they failed to win. This type of siege mentality is often what awaits teams like psg and Marseille, and if they want to seriously challenge for the title then Monaco will need to find a way past teams.
Marseille will need to be wary of the Monaco set-pieces, with communication between Mandanda and his defence key. This communication has improved game by game, but is still well short of the discipline that saw them keep 7 clean sheets in a row last season.
The OM defence will need to decide how to mark. In previous games, it seems as though Reviere has enjoyed success through the space created by Falcao as the opposition defence have been more worried and preoccupied with the Columbian. OM should perhaps look at man-marking both Reviere and Falcao, and leave any further covering to Imbula/Cheyrou or Romao.
Full Monaco squad: Callard, Romero, Subasic, Abidal, Carvalho, Fabinho, Isimat-Mirin, Kurzawa, Raggi, Tisserand, Ferreria-Carrasco, Moutinho, Obbadi, Ocampos, Pi, Rodriguez, Toulalan, Falcao, Germain, Reviere.
Marseille certainly have the history books with them in this fixture having won 20 to Moncao’s 9 at the Stade Velodrome, and OM have only lost 1 of the last 10 meetings between the 2 sides. Joking aside the atmosphere may be an issue for Monaco. Many teams find the atmosphere at the Velodrome intimidating, and this crowd will certainly be the largest that the Monaco players have faced in Ligue 1 to date. As a result of the quality of players and the atmosphere, I feel that Marseille just have the edge in this fixture, but they will absolutely have to be at their best to overcome a very good Monaco side.
Monaco have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 25 trips to the Velodrome.
Marseille are unbeaten in their last 9 home games.
Monaco are unbeaten in their last 12 away games.
50% of Monaco’s goals have come after the 80th minute.
Other Ligue 1 games
Evian – Lyon
psg – Guingamp
Sochaux – Ajaccio
Rennes – Lille
Reims – Nantes
Lorient – Valenciennes
Bastia – Toulouse
Saint-Etienne – Bordeaux
Nice – Montpellier
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)