Marseille progressed into the quarter finals of the Champions League, despite losing 2-1 away against Inter on the night. Didier Deschamps men had won the first leg 1-0 thanks to a late Andre Ayew goal and headed into the tie as slight favourites to progress. Both sides have been struggling miserably in the league this season and the CL has been some sort of an escape route from domestic matters. For each club, this was obviously a massive match.
Inter v Marseille – Champions League Round of 16 Match Preview
Time: 20:45 (19:45 UK)
Venue: San Siro, Milan
Last meeting – 22/02/12 Marseille 1-0 Inter (A. AYew ‘93)
Inter home Champions League form: P3, W1, D0, L2, F3, A4
Marseille away Champions League form: P3 W2, D1, L0, F4, A2
Two teams, both alike in frailty, In fair Milan, where we lay our scene. Inter, without only 1 win in 10 games, Marseille, without a win in 5 league matches. Has there ever been a Champions League pairing between two more star-crossed teams; will it end in tragedy?
When Inter and Marseille last met, OM were on a fine run of form, unbeaten this year, scoring at will and defensively sound. The draw against Valenciennes that preceded the first leg against Inter was just a minor blip, an anomaly, as they had foolishly began to think about more important games, or so it all seemed. Since this one-off, Marseille have now lost against Brest, 0-1, Toulouse, 0-1, Evian, 2-0 and Ajaccio 1-0, and have not scored in over 370 minutes. Injuries and suspensions along with mental and physical fatigue have been blamed for this with Remy, Mbia, Valbuena, Andre Ayew, Amalfitano and Gignac all missing at various points.
With Marseille having a slender 1-0 advantage, but the overall outcome still hangs in the balance.
Marseille Team selection –
Ahead of the last game it was mentioned that team selection and tactics had robbed Marseille of players and results and it appears the same will be said again. At the turn of this year, Marseille looked like a solid, cohesive team and other than forced changes (through injuries and African Cup of Nations), they were playing as a settled squad, as they had slowly built up a rapport and understanding with each other. In recent games Deschamps has begun changing both the starting line-up and tactics. Azpilicueta and Morel have both played and been dropped as right and left backs respectively, replaced by Fanni and Traore, also Valbuena, A. Ayew, Brandao, Kabore, Diarra and Diawarra have all found themselves bench-warming at times too. These changes have left OM struggling to attack other teams effectively with poor play and positioning letting themselves down in the final 3rd, and the changes have also resulted in the defence conceding a number of weak goals from counter attacks and set-pieces as a result of undisciplined marking.
Marseille do have the benefit of knowing that when the two sides met at the Velodrome 3 weeks ago, they really dominated the majority of the second half. Amalfitano was in particular fine form as he tore down the right time and time again, the late appearance of Fanni also helped as he demonstrated his ability to overlap and cross with accuracy and power. This will most likely be the main threat that OM possess, however, it it important that they use the left flank too, remembering that a number of good chances were as a result of individual skill by A. Ayew in the 2nd half.
It is likely that Deschamps will start the game with as similar a defence as possible to the last game to try and maintain some continuity, Fanni, NKoulou, Mbia and Traore, being the most obvious grouping. Fanni will look to break forwards often, must he must ensure that he does not shirk his defensive duties as Inter were strong on the break in the last game. Traore is likely to be targeted as the weak point in this defence so it is important that he is supported from the holding midfielder (Diarra). The only saving grace for the right and left back is the state of the San Siro pitch, with vast sections having recently been relayed, Arsenal recently found it difficult to attack down the wings with their usual pace.
The return of Remy to the Champions League squad is positive for OM and he will look to reform his partnership with Valbuena that had seen 13 goals and 14 assists provided by the pairing this season. The inclusion of Remy will also give the Inter defence something different to deal with compared to Brandao who started the previous game and had a very quiet second half before he was substituted.
The likely starting line-up below is based on a rough 4-5-1 formation, similar to that which was used against AC Ajaccio.
Here are the thoughts of Serie A expert, Rob Handworker on Inter’s recent form and threats.
Inter Milan welcome Olympique de Marseille to the San Siro on Tuesday night looking to overturn a one nil deficit they suffered at the Stade Valodrome 3 weeks ago courtesy of a Andre Ayew late winner.
You could even say as well as playing for a Champions League quarter final place they will be playing for their manager’s job with it.
Although Inter finally managed to halt their alarming slump of no wins in 8 games when they finally won 2-0 at Chievo on Friday night, they still sit 7th in Serie A, 6 points behind 4th and qualification for the Champions League again for next season. After the game Inter’s president Massimo Moratti gave Claudio Ranieri his backing but speculation is rife in the city that if they don’t progress through this tie he will be dismissed instantly but definitely at the end of the season no matter what. Moratti doesn’t take failure lightly!
Inter will go into the game able to field their strongest team with the mercurial talent and playmaker Wesley Sneijder likely to be reinstated to the starting XI after a spell on the bench. Top scorer Diego Milito will be the one they look to fire the goals in, in tandem with Diego Forlan as Inter will field an attacking team. The defence will be packed full of experience in this competition as well as on the International stage.
Inter will also be confident they can overturn Marseille’s advantage as the French team travel to Italy in a poor run of form themselves.
Probable line up:
Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Stankivic, Cambiasso, Sneijder; Milito, Forlan
With Marseille in a poor run of form and the fact that they haven’t got to the quarter final stage of the competition since they became the first and only French side to win it in 1993, I am backing Inter to secure the 2-0 victory they need to get through and save Ranieri’s job, for a little while longer at least!
You can follow Rob on twitter @essexlad13
The outcome of this tie is one of the closest in this round of the Champions League, with neither team having any major advantage. The previous game was hardly one for the purists, with Andre Ayew’s dramatic injury time winner, masking what was a relatively dull match with two teams playing like they were more bothered about ‘not losing’ rather than winning. This time out it could be different, this time out it should be different. Neither team has any chance of winning their domestic leagues and given both teams current form, progress to the next round of the Champions League would certainly help alleviate some of the discontent from their fans and help give the players something to be upbeat about.
Inter will most certainly start the strongest, dictating the pace of the game and dominating possession, Marseille will be happy to sit back and look to counter attack with the pace of Valbuena safe in the knowledge that a sneaky away goal would put them in a much more favourable position. Should Inter manage to net an early goal, it will be interesting to see how Marseille then begin to play. There is a risk of heads going down, or they might begin to play their own game adopting a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, and perform like they actually want to win a game, something the fans haven’t witnessed in recent weeks! Predicted result Inter 2-1 Marseille.
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
Marseille will take a narrow 1 goal lead back to the San Siro, after a last gasp goal from Andre Ayew give les phoceens a 1-0 victory at the Velodrome.
In the first leg of this last 16 clash, in the Champions League, Marseille lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Azpilicueta, Morel, Brandao and Cheyrou returning to the side that drew against Valenciennes. Marseille started the brightest, creating a number of half chances in the early exchanges. The forward 3, most notably Amalfitano were finding space down the wings, but were not able to provide Brandao with anything to really attack.
As the first half progressed Inter began to see more of the ball and regularly counter attacked with pace down the flanks, getting behind Azpilicueta with alarming ease. The high defensive line that OM were playing did not help this matter, however, Cheyrou and Diarra did their best to get back and support.
Marseille’s best chance came from a well delivered Valbuena free kick, curled in towards the goal and Brandao flicked it on to Diawara’s chest and the ball bounced harmlessly out of play.
Although there were no changes for OM in the second half, they started strongly again. Amalfitano was finding more space down the right hand side and with the support of Azpilicueta, Marseille targeted Inter’s left side during almost every attack. Often the ball was played in too early, or the cross was too deep, but at least OM were looking interested.
During the middle part of the second half, Inter began to push on more. They threatened Mandanda on a few occasions, forcing corners and set pieces in dangerous areas. Inter began targeting Morel in their attacks, as Azpilicueta was having a tremendous 2nd half. Unfortunately, Azpi took a bad knock and had to be replaced by Fanni, who was excellent both in defence and, as he has shown previously, going forwards.
Marseille were beginning to look a little stagnant, and gave the distinct impression that they would settle for a draw. The introduction of Jayew and Kabore for Cheyrou and Brandao, didn’t bring about as much of a change in performance as Deschamps would have hoped.
Time was running out, Andre Ayew had a few half chances, his brother also, but none of the attempts really made Cesar work and he hardly moved as most shots were at him. But in the 92nd minute he couldn’t move and Marseille scored. Andre Ayew had cut in from the left and let out a brilliant outside of the left-foot shot that won a corner. Corner swings in, Ayew rises at the near post, ball connects with head. Suddenly the world has went into slow motion, you can see the burst of perspiration off Ayew’s head, you can hear the aging Inter’s joints creaking and everyone in the Velodrome draws a breath. It looks like it going in, the ‘keeper hasn’t moved, it hits the back of the net. GOAL! With the last chance of the game, Marseille came good.
Looking back, if one team was going to win the tie it had to be Marseille, they looked far more interested in the win, whereas Inter would have gladly settled for a draw judging by how they set themselves up defensively.
MOTM – Amalfitano – Since awarded with a France call up for his consistent form, he was Marseille’s main threat all night. Valbuena had started lively, but difted out of the game. Andre Ayew started quiet but grew into the game. Amalfitano was a constant thorn in Inter’s left side. Not blessed with blistering pace, he often crosses early and from deep, which hasn’t always supported OM’s strikers, however as his confidence grew, he was happy to get into excellent positions and unselfishly play in others players. Credit to Valbuena, Azpi and Fanni for supporting but Amalfitano would hold the ball up well and play in excellent passes to them.
Special Mentions –
Azpilicueta – Gifted Inter too much space in the first half at times, which did lead to a number of chances, however, he knuckled down in the second and nothing got past him. His improvement lead to Inter having to look unsuccessfully elsewhere for a weak-point, which thankfully wasn’t found.
Marseille v Inter – Champions League Round of 16 Match Preview