Tag Archives: French Football

Guingamp – Marseille – 11/08/13 – Match Preview

11/08/13 – 20:00 (UK Live on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 1
EA Guingamp v Marseille
Stade Municipal du Roudourou, Guingamp

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Marseille begin their Ligue 1 campaign away at newly promoted Guingamp on Sunday evening. After a summer of some shrewd investment in the shadows behind psg and Monaco’s monetary prowess it’s time to prove that Ligue 1 is not going to be a two horse race and les phocéens have a big point to prove. After little investment last summer, along with losing the manager and some big name players (Azpilicueta, Mbia, Remy, Lucho and Diarra) OM still pushed psg further than most expected through disciplined and mature performances, the likes of which had rarely been witnessed under Deschamps guidance. Elie Baup will hope that the squad can keep this new found discipline, whilst improve on their poor entertainment value that saw the club criticised last year. The excellent start to the season that saw OM top the table with 6 wins from 6 certainly helped build confidence in a much changed club, and although OM haven’t underwent the same volume of changes this summer, a solid start to the season would help give credence to their title aspirations, to those ignorant to football outside of money.

Marseille

Elie Baup will be without the services of new signing Saber Khlifa who is not registered in time to feature, and Jeremy Morel who is suspended. Fellow new signings; Giannelli Imbula, Dimitri Payet and Benjamin Mendy are all expected to feature having trained and played in recent friendlies.
What will be interesting though is which formation Elie Baup decides to play. Having been successful with 4-2-3-1 throughout last season, the coach has experimented with 4-3-3 and even 4-4-2 during some of the friendlies. Through the results, it would be easy to suggest that those experiments didn’t work, however it does offer flexibility in varying attacks and supporting defence.
Through the suspension of Morel it is expected that Mendy will start at left back. Having impressed pre-season Imbula may start in defensive midfield along with Romao, and Payet will be likely to start on the right.
Imbula will start in defensive midfield facing up against his former club, alongside Romao.
Full squad: Mandanda, Samba – Abdallah, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Nkoulou – Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Imbula, Kadir, Romao, Valbuena – J. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet. Likely lineup and formation.
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Guingamp

Having finished 2nd in Ligue 2, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side had the best home record in the ligue, 4th best defensive record and kept 15 clean sheets, so given that they are at home they will certainly be no pushovers as they look to pick up early points to avoid a relegation that most believe is expected. The team will have the backing of an expected sold out crowd and have a full strength squad available. After losing Imbula to us, Planté to Red Star Paris, Camara to CA Bastia, Bellugou to Nancy and Rouger to Rennes, Guingamp have strengthened their squad through Ligue 2 purchases. Sorbon from Caen, Langil from Auxerre, Beauvue from Chateauraux, Sankharé from Dijon and Assembe from Nancy are all expected starters from Guingamp.
The danger man for EAG is undoubtedly red-hot striker Mustapha Yatabaré. The 6 foot forward netted 23 times for Guingamp last season. His pace is certainly a strength although both Nkoulou and Mendes are not the slowest defenders he will come across, his quick thinking finishes inside the box may be his best chance of beating the defence and Mandanda.
Guingamp squad: Samassa, Assembe – Pereira, Sankoh, Sorbon, Leveque, Lemaitre – Kerbrat, Mathis, Diallo, Sankhare, Giresse, Atik – Beauvue, Langil, Yatabare, Douniama, Alioui.

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Summary
As always, it’s very difficult to predict results early on in the season particularly against newly promoted opposition, however, if both teams play to their strengths then Marseille should win this one.

Stats
Out of 6 meetings between EAG/OM in Brittany, Guingamp have won 3, OM 1 and 2 draws.
Marseille won last ligue game in Guingamp 1-0, 10 years ago with Bakayoko netting in the final minutes.
Last meeting between EAG/OM was Coupe de France match last season, OM won 2-1 (after extra time) with Gignac scoring both goals.

Other Ligue 1 games
Fri 9th
Montpellier 1-1 psg
Sat 10th
Nantes 2-0 Bastia
Rennes 2-1 Reims
Valenciennes 3-0 Toulouse
Lyon 4-0 Nice
Bordeaux 0-2 Monaco
Evian 1-1 Sochaux
Lille 1-0 Lorient
Sun 11th
Ajaccio – Saint-Etienne

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

Lyon 0-0 Marseille match report – physical battle ends goalless

No team could find a winner as the ‘Olympico’ fixture ended in a stalemate at Le Stade Gerland. It was a tactically enthralling match but devoid of major chances. Both teams cancelled each other out in what was a very committed display by each respective outfit. Both teams desperately needed all 3 points in order to keep up the pressure on PSG but overall a draw was definitely the fair result here.

Sougou given start

Following his impressive display last weekend, Sougou was given a starting spot by Elie Baup and he was arguably OM’s most dangerous player in the first half. Most of the danger OM created was on the right hand side where the ex Cluj man and Rod Fanni were linking up pretty well. The weak spot on Lyon’s defence was at right back due to the absence of Anthony Reveillere, but for some reason OM never seemed to target Dabo in this encounter.

Apart from the inclusion of Sougou, the OM line-up had a very familiar look about it and there were no surprises. Lyon lined up in a 4-3-3, which included a fairly defensive midfield which didn’t include a playmaker. Both Grenier and Gourcuff were on the bench and the hosts generally struggled to create anything much all night. Unsurprisingly, Lyon targeted Jeremy Morel and Lacazette caused him a few problems in the first half. However, the left back gradually adjusted and eventually was more than able to match the OL youngster.

Physical battle

You could tell that both teams knew the importance of this match. There was a clear focus, determination and fight from all of the players on the field. A defeat for either side here would’ve been a significant blow, but if either was to have any title ambitions then they needed to push on and take all 3 points. This was a very physical battle and some of the tackles flying in were excellent to see. If you like your tactical battles and smashmouth football then this was the sort of fixture you’d have enjoyed. However, for those who prefer open and flairy football then you needed to be looking elsewhere for your kicks.

In the 2nd half, OM arguably created the most dangerous chances. The closest they came was through an Andre Ayew header which passed very close to the post. But in general, both defences have to be given credit for shutting down most attacks. It was the sort of match in which one major error could’ve proved the difference between victory and defeat, but none came. A lot of energy was being used up by the players and it was impressive to see some players have such a strong physical engine.

Fear of defeat

As the last 10-15 mins unfolded, you could tell that both teams really wanted to open up and push hard for the 3 points. But ultimately, the ‘fear’ of defeat was just too much and it prevented the game from opening up. Sometimes if you really want success then you have to take a risk. This is where I will criticise Lyon because they were the home team and the onus was on them to take victory which would’ve kept the pressure on PSG. To some extent, OM can also be criticised for not ‘going for it’ as much as they could’ve, but realistically an away point at Lyon is a fairly good result under normal circumstances.

It was one of those matches where an early goal inside the first 20 mins could’ve really opened things up. I really feel that this was a fixture with great potential. If both teams were free from the mental pressure of not wanting to lose then we could’ve seen a completely different game. But at the end of the day the only winners tonight were PSG as they now have a 4 point gap to Lyon, and 7 to OM. With 10 games left to play, Elie Baup’s men must keep fighting hard for every point in order to claim a place in the top 3, or possibly even higher. Recent away performances have been encouraging, which is vital because trips to Nice and Lille are on the horizon soon. It would be nice if we could turn a few of these decent displays into goals and 3 points though………………..

 

OM player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 6/10 – With the exception of one poor clearance he had a good night. Strong command here and had very safe hands when called upon.

Morel 5/10 – Lacazette gave him a few problems early on, but he eventually settled into the match fairly well.

Mendes 5/10 – Had a fairly nervous first half, but improved after the break when he made a few crucial interceptions.

N’Koulou 6/10 – Looked pretty assured here and hardly put a foot wrong all night.

Fanni 6/10 – Defended smartly and offered himself in attack as much as he could. Final balls into the box could’ve been a little better.

Romao 5/10 Did a fairly solid job in the middle of the park and helped OM have a strong backbone in this area.

Barton 6/10 – Worked well with Romao in the middle and also helped set up a number of attacks.

Andre Ayew 5/10 – He probably should’ve worked Dabo more than he did, but remained a threat, especially in the air.

Sougou 6/10 – Had an impressive first half in which he was OM’s best player Quietened down after the break before being taken off for Jordan Ayew.

Valbuena 5/10 – Some nice moments as always but he was a frustrated man in this match. Struggled physically against some OL players.

Gignac 5/10 – Never really had a genuine chance but he fought hard for the cause upfront.

Jordan Ayew (sub, 73rd min) 5/10 – Was lively and gave the team some energy, maybe could’ve done more with the ball.

My Lyon player ratings :-

Vercoutre 5/10
Umtiti 6/10
Lovren 4/10
Bisevac 7/10
Dabo 5/10
Gonalons 6/10
Fofana 5/10
Malbranque 5/10
Lacazette 6/10
Lisandro 4/10
Gomis 4/10
Grenier (sub) 6/10

Man of the match – Bisevac.

Tough MOM to award here because nobody really stood out. But the OL centre back was very solid throughout, making a number of key tackles and blocks when it mattered.

 

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)

PSG 2-0 Marseille – Unlucky defeat in Paris ends title hopes for OM

OM dropped out of the title race as they suffered a defeat away against bitter rivals PSG on Sunday night (0-2). It was a flattering win for the hosts and OM outplayed their star studied opponents for most of the game. However, at this stage of the season its results that matter the most, and the visitors failed to deliver in this crucial department.

The night will be remembered mostly for the hype of David Beckham. He was on the bench for PSG and was almost assured of coming on at some point. The whole media frenzy surrounding Beckham was embarrassing to say the least. At any possible opportunity the cameras were showing him sitting on the bench. It was as if the match actually took 2nd stage compared to the old dinosaur that he is.

Lucky deflection for PSG

On the field, OM suffered the worst possible start when Lucas Moura’s shot was deflected into the net by N’Koulou. The effort was going well wide and it was a very fortunate goal for PSG, but they were ahead. The hosts enjoyed their best spell at the start of the game and were the better side for the first 20 mins or so. Lavezzi had hit the post as early as the 1st minute and they looked pretty dangerous going forwards on the counter attack.

Gradually, OM came back into the game more though and by halftime were certainly looking like the most likely side to score the next goal. Elie Baup’s side were exploiting plenty of space on the wings, but sadly none of the wide players could put in enough quality deliveries. Mathieu Valbuena was imperious in the middle of the park for OM and was arguably the best man on the field.

OM always looked vulnerable on the counter attack though and their defensive line was simply too high for most of the match, especially in the first half. Key players such as Mandanda and N’Koulou simply weren’t performing to their capabilities either. The latter arguably produced the worst 45 minutes he’s ever had in an OM shirt and he was simply shambolic before the interval. The own goal was unfortunate, but it rather summed him up in the first half.

2nd half domination, but all in vain

After the break, OM dominated proceedings and clearly outplayed PSG, but they couldn’t find a way to get back level. They ran into a complete brick wall in the form of Salvatore Sirigu who made several outstanding saves to keep his side in front. Gignac was twice denied superbly, although on the first of these occasions perhaps the ex Toulouse man should’ve tucked the ball away. Andre Ayew thought he’d scored late on thanks to a fine looping header, but at the last moment Sirigu managed to somehow claw the ball away. It was very frustrating for OM who definitely deserved to get back level and weren’t rewarded for their efforts.

Clearly at HT some things had been said in the dressing room and a number of players came out after the break looking distinctly better. N’Koulou looked at his imperious best again, Barton controlled the midfield and made a number of excellent passes. Valbuena maintained his level and was the heartbeat of the side going forward, whilst Andre Ayew battled really hard on the left hand side with purpose fight and determination. What OM lacked was that bit of extra quality, especially in the wide areas where they had chances to hurt PSG. The wingers and full backs just failed to deliver enough decent balls into the middle and PSG were usually able to clear easily from most crosses. Les Phoceens were also extremely wasteful from the number of set pieces they had, often from excellent positions.

PSG rubbed salt into the wound when Ibrahimovic grabbed a 2nd goal in stoppage time. It was far more than they deserved, especially in the case of Zlatan who had a very quiet game and gave OM few problems. All the talk and hype will be of David Beckham’s involvement in the goal after he came on in the 76th minute. Time will tell if he’ll be much use to PSG on the field, although nobody can deny he will certainly be an asset for them off it.

Title race over, despite good performance

Overall this was a harsh defeat for OM, but also a crucial one. This was probably their best display of 2013 so far, and certainly their most committed. But this match was never going to be about who played the best, the key was getting a result. At the end of the day, PSG have picked up the 3 points and managed to find a way to win. OM need to ask themselves why they allowed this to happen and to make sure in the future they learn from this loss. The title is now out of reach for Elie Baup’s men, but they still have everything to play for this season, starting with another fixture against PSG in the Coupe de France in midweek.

This defeat hurts a lot, largely because it was undeserved. What OM need to do is bottle up this pain and disappointment, and make sure they use it as a positive for the future. They have to learn from this loss and next time make sure they don’t suffer the same outcome.

Come back stronger

To quote the great NFL linebacker Ray Lewis who made this inspirational speech following the Ravens’ emotional AFC Championship loss against the New England Patriots in Jan 2012

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time. This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

This was one of the great speeches I heard, and it worked. The following year the Ravens returned and went onto win the Superbowl. OM need this sort of spirit now and to come back stronger.

OM player ratings

Mandanda 4/10 – Lacked communication and authority at times.

Fanni 5/10 – Provided energy and drive, but his final ball and crosses were poor.

N’Koulou 4/10 – Complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. He was awful before HT, but excellent after it.

Mendes 4/10 – Without being too bad, he was never particularly convincing.

Morel 4/10 – Got into some good wide positions but wasted opportunities

Barton 7/10 -After a fairly quiet first half, he controlled the midfield after the break and became a key player.

Romao 4/10 – Had a match riddled with errors in the 2nd half especially, didn’t particularly shine.

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Fought very hard for the cause and was unlucky not to score

Kadir 5/10 – Not too bad, but one senses he is still settling in at OM and there is more to come from him.

Valbuena 8/10 – He was superb and the heartbeat of the side. Passed the ball beautifully and always a threat.

Gignac 4/10 – Should’ve scored at least once and really needs to hit the back of the net in fixtures like this.

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)

Marseille – Sochaux Match Preview

Marseille will hope to make it 2 wins out of 2 when they host Sochaux at Le Stade Velodrome on Sunday. The match was originally scheduled for 2pm French time, but it was changed due to fears with the heat. It should still be a hot fixture though with very high temperatures expected on the south coast.

Unfortunately its not been on the field matters which has dominated the headlines in approach to this fixture. Once again, the OM transfer merry go round has been the centre of attention. Alou Diarra has left to West Ham, Stephane Mbia wants out, and Azpiliqueta is right on the verge of joining Chelsea. Names such as Joey Barton, Emir Spahic and even an old legend Lorik Cana have been linked with OM. But quite simply at this stage of August Elie Baup needs to get a firm grip on the transfer market instead of all this messing about.

The visitors, Sochaux are also in a similar position with a number of key players still linked with moves away from the club. The duo of Perquis and Boudbouz are the main doubts, they are included in the squad but how much game time will they have? Boudbouz is another supposedly on the OM shortlist so he may well want to catch the eye of his potential future employers. Sochaux lost disappointingly 2-3 at home to Bastia last week and by all accounts their defence was all over the place. There’s no doubt that OM have a very good chance to pick up another 3 points.

The off the field distractions didn’t affect the on field performance at Reims last week where OM won 1-0. There were some encouraging signs and hopefully the players will knuckle down and deliver the goods again here. The main doubt for OM is Azpi. He is included in the squad but whether or not he’ll start remains to be seen, I personally think Baup could bench him. Amalfitano returns from suspension so Charles Kabore could slot into the RDEF role if required.

A 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation seems the most likely for OM and the team should be pretty similar to last week. If they dont pick up victory in this match then I think it’d have to be classed as a failure. Sochaux are a poor side and look like being one of the weaker ones this year, there is no excuse for OM should they not win. Baup’s men should hopefully show the difference in class and I predict an exciting match with OM to prevail 3-1.

Allez l’OM!!!