Sun 10/03/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN)
Stade Gerland, Lyon
Ref. – Clement Turpin
2nd meets 3rd this Sunday in the race to see who can keep in touch with psg and stake their claim as genuine title contenders. Both teams have faltered when given the chance to keep in touch or extend a lead at the top this season, so there are a number of pressures with this game. A defeat for Marseille would surely end any lingering hopes of challenging for the title, whereas a defeat for Lyon would put them 5 points behind psg and it’s difficult to see the Parisians slipping up again this season. Of course, Marseille would also like to avenge the rather humiliating 1-4 defeat at the Stade Velodrome back in November.
After an excellent performance in Ligue 1’s ‘le classique’, OM were disappointing in the Coupe de France re-run, before putting in a more assured and convincing display against relegation strugglers Troyes last week. The 2 late goals that gave OM the win, suggest the match was more difficult than it was, the only downside being the amount of chances OM squandered.
After missing the last 3 weeks through injury, Elie Baup can welcome Benoit Cheyrou back to his squad, although he will find it difficult to break back into the starting 11 with January signing Alaixys Romao impressing in recent weeks. The squad that travelled to Lyon consists of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Barton, Cheyrou, Romao, Abdullah, A. Ayew, Valbuena, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and J. Ayew.
Expected line-up and formation:
Fanni Nkoulou Mendes Morel
Sougou Valbuena A. Ayew
Having been a direct replacement for Gignac in previous games, Sougou, was used as a right sided attacking midfielder when he came on against Troyes and was far more imposing in this position. He linked up well with Valbuena as Andre Ayew retreated into a deep holding role. His vision and pace directly resulted in both of Marseille’s goals and there is little doubt that without him, Marseille would not have won.
Although 4th in the defensive tables, Lyon do concede a number of attacking opportunities to their opponents so if OM can keep their shooting boots on then they may successfully find a way past Vercoutre. The link-up between Valbuena and Sougou will be key to this as the pair exploited the space left through Gignac’s drifting positioning and punished Troyes in a way Marseille have failed to do in recent games. A solid improving partnership between Barton and Romao/Cheyrou should also perform better against Malbranque than they did at the Velodrome too.
Who are they? –
Just as Marseille have surprised the media and fans alike this season, so have Lyon. Their efficient play has kept them towards the top of the table all season and despite the loss of high profile players before and during the season, youngsters and fringe players have stepped up admirably.
Just like Marseille, Lyon had a poor record at Stade Brest, and this continued last week as they could only leave Brittany with a single point after a 1-1 draw thanks to Makonda own goal.
Lyon are a very effective team and it is unlikely that focussing an attack on one discernible weakness would lead to success against them. Marseille will stand a far greater chance of victory through using all of their attacking options and arsenal against them. This will include; counter-attacks, width through aAyew and Sougou, individual skill through the centre through Valbuena, crosses and arial skills from Gignac etc. This along with far more resolute defending will give OM their best chance against Remi Garde’s men.
Lyon are likely to be without Gourcuff and Ghezzal, Reveillere is also a doubt. Gonalons and Fofana return after missing the Brest game. Likely line up and formation of Lyon:
Dabo Bisevac Lovren Umtiti
Laczette Malbranque Lopez
A win in the ‘Olympico’ would do wonders for either team. OM have the most to lose from this game as a defeat would surely leave both Lyon and psg too far ahead to be caught this season. An OM win though, as well as retribution and revenge for the defeat earlier this season could give them the impetus and inspiration to put together an impressive end of season run and really push psg and Lyon all the way.
Predicted score: Lyon 1v2 Marseille
Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)
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Troyes 4v2 Reims
Nice v Montpellier
Bordeaux v Bastia