11/08/13 – 20:00 (UK Live on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 1
EA Guingamp v Marseille
Stade Municipal du Roudourou, Guingamp
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Montpellier 1-1 psg
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
Ajaccio – Saint-Etienne
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)