After a disappointing outing midweek in the Champions League against Arsenal, Marseille return to Ligue 1 action just 3 days later against Montpellier at the Velodrome. OM will hope to make it 3 ligue wins from 3, while Montpellier look for their first win since their 5-1 demolition of Lyon, since playing out 3 straight losses followed by 3 draws.
Elie Baup is still without Andre Ayew, Rod Fanni and Laurent Abergel, however, Dimitri Payet does return to the squad. After being dominated on the left and in midfield and also creating very little upfront, Baup may bring about wholesale changes to the starting 11. It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Morel, Khalifa, Imbula, Lemina and Jordan Ayew return to the bench, while Abdallah may be safe for now due to the absence of Fanni still.
Cheyrou and Romao could be the central midfield pairing, with Payet, Valbuena and Thauvin hoping to keep their current ligue form going. As in previous games, getting the ball to those 3 players is a sure fire way of creating chances. With Gignac’s ability to draw defenders wide and out of position it also provides Valbuena with extra space in field, and Payet/Thauvin with opportunities to cut inside.
The full OM squad is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Diawara, mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Cheyrou, Imbula, Romao, Valbuena, Thauvin, Lemina, J.Ayew, Gignac, Khalifa, Payet.
Likely starting line-up and formation:
Abdallah Nkoulou Mendes Mendy
Payet Valbuena Thauvin
Montpellier are currently 16th in the ligue table and are yet to win an away game having drawn 4 and losing their other 2. Away games against the ‘bigger teams’ have resulted in loses to date (1-4 Monaco and 0-2 Bordeaux). Montpellier’s problem this season has been picking up draws that could have been wins, with 8 of their 18 goals conceded coming in the last 15 minutes of either half. Jean Fernandez has no new injury or suspension concerns since their last game and is expected to name an unchanged team.
Likely line-up and formation:
Marveaux Hilton Congri Kaoutari
Camara Sanson Cabella
With games against Lille, Nantes, Lyon, Dortmund and Bordeaux coming up Marseille will be desperate to pick up 3 points and give themselves a little bit of breathing space between the chasing pack. With 7th placed Lyon and 17th placed Lorient only separated by 5 points, we want to keep clear of being dragged into that fight. Montpellier don’t really have the form going into this game, in terms of current or historical, having only won once at the Velodrome in 18 matches, although that was only 2 seasons ago.
Andrew (@aswanny84 & @MarseilleUK)