Marseille v Nancy
Sun 03/02/13 – 20:00 (UK)
Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Ref – Rene Sucarrat
Having dropped 3 points off the pace at the top of Ligue 1 last weekend, Marseille face bottom of the table AS Nancy this weekend in a must win game for both sides. After Mandanda’s last minute blunder allowed Rennes to clinch a draw OM found themselves 3 points away from the top spot, and although they have been in this potion before there is the worry that it will be too difficult to keep up the pace with Lyon and psg now. However, with the encouraging performance from Modou Sougou (CFR Cluj) in the Coupe de France victory over Rouen midweek, along with forthcoming debuts for Foued Kadir (VAFC) and Jacques-Alaixys Romao (FCL), there is hope that the new signings will give the squad and extra push going into the second half of the season.
Nancy managed only their second win of the season last weekend against FC Lorient, their only other win coming in week 1 over Brest. Nancy have found themselves in the relegation zone since week 6 and have propped up the rest of the table since week 9. There is a concern that with the January departures of club captain Andre Luiz (LOSC), Yohan Mollo (ASSE), Massadio Haidara (NUFC), Helder (Internacional) and Zenke (Istanbul BB) that Nancy are already preparing themselves for Ligue 2 next season.
Elie Baup is without Charles Kabore (Burkina Faso) and Jacques Alaixys Romao (Togo) who are all still competing at the African Cup of Nations.
After a very encouraging performance midweek Modou Sougou could be in line for his Ligue 1 debut, but I would expect this to be from the subs bench in the second half.
Team news: The hip injury that ruled out Morel from the win over Rouen will keep him from this game too, meaning Morel misses his first Ligue 1 game of the season. New signing Foued Kadir has been included in the squad so the fans at the Velodrome will hope to catch sight of him at some point too.
Full squad: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes, Aloe, Barton, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Amalfitano, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, J. Ayew, Gignac and Sougou.
Probable starting line up and formation:
4-2-3-1: Mandanda – Fanni, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes – Barton, Cheyrou – J. Ayew, Valbuena, A. Ayew – Gignac
Nancy are currently bottom of Ligue 1 where they have spent most of the season. The Nancy board decided that they may fair better with another coach and parted ways with Jean Fernandez who had been in charge for 18 months. Patrick Gabriel has been named interim coach for Nancy and has mustered up a draw (1-1 LOSC), a loss (1-2 TFC) and a win (2-1 FCL) in his short time in charge.
As was the last time these teams met out one to watch is Sebastien Puygrenier. The experienced centre back has pulled out a number of good performance this season despite what the results may suggest. He has also contributed 3 goals, one of which claimed the win over Lorient last week. Puygrenier will be a major threat from set-pieces and I would expect Patrick Gabriel will encourage Nancy to win as many free-kicks and corners as possible once in Marseille’s half.
Marseille simply must begin to defend correctly from set-pieces, and they are sure to be tested by Nancy in this department. There continually seems like there is a lack of communication defensively during set-pieces and too many goals have been conceded where opposition players have lost markers, have got to the ball too easily, or the ball has dropped and our opponents are quickest to react. As the team captian, I would hope that Mandanda takes more responsibility for this, however as the senior and preferred defender, Nkoulou should also be commanding the defensive area far better than what he is at present.
Top 3 team takes on team who have spent most of the season at the bottom of the pile. Should be an obvious outcome, but them this is Marseille. We don’t do things the easy or obvious way. If we weren’t so awful at defending set-pieces I would feel a great deal more confident going into the match, however, as proven against Rouen again, our frailties from these situation change a comfortable looking win into a team hanging on for a draw. The mentality of the players seems to change and they transform into a bundle of nerves, just like the fans, and seems to then concede even more corners and free-kicks. By rights, Marseille should win this game, and because of this it may be a better indication of just how the rest of the season may pan out for OM. Approach it with the right mentality and we should win, fail to do that and another upset could be on the cards.
Betting odds (from Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Other Ligue 1 games:
Toulouse 0-4 psg
Lorient 2v2 Rennes
Bastia 0v0 Evian
Brest 0v2 Nice
Lille 1v1 Troyes
Sochaux 1v2 Saint-Etienne
Bordeaux 2v0 Valenciennes
Ajaccio v Lyon
Montpellier v Reims
Allez l’OM (Swanny @MarseilleUK)