Tag Archives: PSG

Lyon 0-0 Marseille match report – physical battle ends goalless

No team could find a winner as the ‘Olympico’ fixture ended in a stalemate at Le Stade Gerland. It was a tactically enthralling match but devoid of major chances. Both teams cancelled each other out in what was a very committed display by each respective outfit. Both teams desperately needed all 3 points in order to keep up the pressure on PSG but overall a draw was definitely the fair result here.

Sougou given start

Following his impressive display last weekend, Sougou was given a starting spot by Elie Baup and he was arguably OM’s most dangerous player in the first half. Most of the danger OM created was on the right hand side where the ex Cluj man and Rod Fanni were linking up pretty well. The weak spot on Lyon’s defence was at right back due to the absence of Anthony Reveillere, but for some reason OM never seemed to target Dabo in this encounter.

Apart from the inclusion of Sougou, the OM line-up had a very familiar look about it and there were no surprises. Lyon lined up in a 4-3-3, which included a fairly defensive midfield which didn’t include a playmaker. Both Grenier and Gourcuff were on the bench and the hosts generally struggled to create anything much all night. Unsurprisingly, Lyon targeted Jeremy Morel and Lacazette caused him a few problems in the first half. However, the left back gradually adjusted and eventually was more than able to match the OL youngster.

Physical battle

You could tell that both teams knew the importance of this match. There was a clear focus, determination and fight from all of the players on the field. A defeat for either side here would’ve been a significant blow, but if either was to have any title ambitions then they needed to push on and take all 3 points. This was a very physical battle and some of the tackles flying in were excellent to see. If you like your tactical battles and smashmouth football then this was the sort of fixture you’d have enjoyed. However, for those who prefer open and flairy football then you needed to be looking elsewhere for your kicks.

In the 2nd half, OM arguably created the most dangerous chances. The closest they came was through an Andre Ayew header which passed very close to the post. But in general, both defences have to be given credit for shutting down most attacks. It was the sort of match in which one major error could’ve proved the difference between victory and defeat, but none came. A lot of energy was being used up by the players and it was impressive to see some players have such a strong physical engine.

Fear of defeat

As the last 10-15 mins unfolded, you could tell that both teams really wanted to open up and push hard for the 3 points. But ultimately, the ‘fear’ of defeat was just too much and it prevented the game from opening up. Sometimes if you really want success then you have to take a risk. This is where I will criticise Lyon because they were the home team and the onus was on them to take victory which would’ve kept the pressure on PSG. To some extent, OM can also be criticised for not ‘going for it’ as much as they could’ve, but realistically an away point at Lyon is a fairly good result under normal circumstances.

It was one of those matches where an early goal inside the first 20 mins could’ve really opened things up. I really feel that this was a fixture with great potential. If both teams were free from the mental pressure of not wanting to lose then we could’ve seen a completely different game. But at the end of the day the only winners tonight were PSG as they now have a 4 point gap to Lyon, and 7 to OM. With 10 games left to play, Elie Baup’s men must keep fighting hard for every point in order to claim a place in the top 3, or possibly even higher. Recent away performances have been encouraging, which is vital because trips to Nice and Lille are on the horizon soon. It would be nice if we could turn a few of these decent displays into goals and 3 points though………………..

 

OM player ratings and notes :-

Mandanda 6/10 – With the exception of one poor clearance he had a good night. Strong command here and had very safe hands when called upon.

Morel 5/10 – Lacazette gave him a few problems early on, but he eventually settled into the match fairly well.

Mendes 5/10 – Had a fairly nervous first half, but improved after the break when he made a few crucial interceptions.

N’Koulou 6/10 – Looked pretty assured here and hardly put a foot wrong all night.

Fanni 6/10 – Defended smartly and offered himself in attack as much as he could. Final balls into the box could’ve been a little better.

Romao 5/10 Did a fairly solid job in the middle of the park and helped OM have a strong backbone in this area.

Barton 6/10 – Worked well with Romao in the middle and also helped set up a number of attacks.

Andre Ayew 5/10 – He probably should’ve worked Dabo more than he did, but remained a threat, especially in the air.

Sougou 6/10 – Had an impressive first half in which he was OM’s best player Quietened down after the break before being taken off for Jordan Ayew.

Valbuena 5/10 – Some nice moments as always but he was a frustrated man in this match. Struggled physically against some OL players.

Gignac 5/10 – Never really had a genuine chance but he fought hard for the cause upfront.

Jordan Ayew (sub, 73rd min) 5/10 – Was lively and gave the team some energy, maybe could’ve done more with the ball.

My Lyon player ratings :-

Vercoutre 5/10
Umtiti 6/10
Lovren 4/10
Bisevac 7/10
Dabo 5/10
Gonalons 6/10
Fofana 5/10
Malbranque 5/10
Lacazette 6/10
Lisandro 4/10
Gomis 4/10
Grenier (sub) 6/10

Man of the match – Bisevac.

Tough MOM to award here because nobody really stood out. But the OL centre back was very solid throughout, making a number of key tackles and blocks when it mattered.

 

Advertisements

PSG 2-0 Marseille – Unlucky defeat in Paris ends title hopes for OM

OM dropped out of the title race as they suffered a defeat away against bitter rivals PSG on Sunday night (0-2). It was a flattering win for the hosts and OM outplayed their star studied opponents for most of the game. However, at this stage of the season its results that matter the most, and the visitors failed to deliver in this crucial department.

The night will be remembered mostly for the hype of David Beckham. He was on the bench for PSG and was almost assured of coming on at some point. The whole media frenzy surrounding Beckham was embarrassing to say the least. At any possible opportunity the cameras were showing him sitting on the bench. It was as if the match actually took 2nd stage compared to the old dinosaur that he is.

Lucky deflection for PSG

On the field, OM suffered the worst possible start when Lucas Moura’s shot was deflected into the net by N’Koulou. The effort was going well wide and it was a very fortunate goal for PSG, but they were ahead. The hosts enjoyed their best spell at the start of the game and were the better side for the first 20 mins or so. Lavezzi had hit the post as early as the 1st minute and they looked pretty dangerous going forwards on the counter attack.

Gradually, OM came back into the game more though and by halftime were certainly looking like the most likely side to score the next goal. Elie Baup’s side were exploiting plenty of space on the wings, but sadly none of the wide players could put in enough quality deliveries. Mathieu Valbuena was imperious in the middle of the park for OM and was arguably the best man on the field.

OM always looked vulnerable on the counter attack though and their defensive line was simply too high for most of the match, especially in the first half. Key players such as Mandanda and N’Koulou simply weren’t performing to their capabilities either. The latter arguably produced the worst 45 minutes he’s ever had in an OM shirt and he was simply shambolic before the interval. The own goal was unfortunate, but it rather summed him up in the first half.

2nd half domination, but all in vain

After the break, OM dominated proceedings and clearly outplayed PSG, but they couldn’t find a way to get back level. They ran into a complete brick wall in the form of Salvatore Sirigu who made several outstanding saves to keep his side in front. Gignac was twice denied superbly, although on the first of these occasions perhaps the ex Toulouse man should’ve tucked the ball away. Andre Ayew thought he’d scored late on thanks to a fine looping header, but at the last moment Sirigu managed to somehow claw the ball away. It was very frustrating for OM who definitely deserved to get back level and weren’t rewarded for their efforts.

Clearly at HT some things had been said in the dressing room and a number of players came out after the break looking distinctly better. N’Koulou looked at his imperious best again, Barton controlled the midfield and made a number of excellent passes. Valbuena maintained his level and was the heartbeat of the side going forward, whilst Andre Ayew battled really hard on the left hand side with purpose fight and determination. What OM lacked was that bit of extra quality, especially in the wide areas where they had chances to hurt PSG. The wingers and full backs just failed to deliver enough decent balls into the middle and PSG were usually able to clear easily from most crosses. Les Phoceens were also extremely wasteful from the number of set pieces they had, often from excellent positions.

PSG rubbed salt into the wound when Ibrahimovic grabbed a 2nd goal in stoppage time. It was far more than they deserved, especially in the case of Zlatan who had a very quiet game and gave OM few problems. All the talk and hype will be of David Beckham’s involvement in the goal after he came on in the 76th minute. Time will tell if he’ll be much use to PSG on the field, although nobody can deny he will certainly be an asset for them off it.

Title race over, despite good performance

Overall this was a harsh defeat for OM, but also a crucial one. This was probably their best display of 2013 so far, and certainly their most committed. But this match was never going to be about who played the best, the key was getting a result. At the end of the day, PSG have picked up the 3 points and managed to find a way to win. OM need to ask themselves why they allowed this to happen and to make sure in the future they learn from this loss. The title is now out of reach for Elie Baup’s men, but they still have everything to play for this season, starting with another fixture against PSG in the Coupe de France in midweek.

This defeat hurts a lot, largely because it was undeserved. What OM need to do is bottle up this pain and disappointment, and make sure they use it as a positive for the future. They have to learn from this loss and next time make sure they don’t suffer the same outcome.

Come back stronger

To quote the great NFL linebacker Ray Lewis who made this inspirational speech following the Ravens’ emotional AFC Championship loss against the New England Patriots in Jan 2012

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time. This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

This was one of the great speeches I heard, and it worked. The following year the Ravens returned and went onto win the Superbowl. OM need this sort of spirit now and to come back stronger.

OM player ratings

Mandanda 4/10 – Lacked communication and authority at times.

Fanni 5/10 – Provided energy and drive, but his final ball and crosses were poor.

N’Koulou 4/10 – Complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. He was awful before HT, but excellent after it.

Mendes 4/10 – Without being too bad, he was never particularly convincing.

Morel 4/10 – Got into some good wide positions but wasted opportunities

Barton 7/10 -After a fairly quiet first half, he controlled the midfield after the break and became a key player.

Romao 4/10 – Had a match riddled with errors in the 2nd half especially, didn’t particularly shine.

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Fought very hard for the cause and was unlucky not to score

Kadir 5/10 – Not too bad, but one senses he is still settling in at OM and there is more to come from him.

Valbuena 8/10 – He was superb and the heartbeat of the side. Passed the ball beautifully and always a threat.

Gignac 4/10 – Should’ve scored at least once and really needs to hit the back of the net in fixtures like this.

Le Classique part 3 – psg v Marseille – 24/02/13 – Match Preview

psg  v OM

Sun 24/02/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN Classic)

Parc des Princes, Paris

Ref. – Fredy Fautrel

Background –

Had this game been scheduled to take place last weekend the result may have been a forgone conclusion in most people’s eyes. Having only won one of 5 games since the winter break, Marseille’s unlikely title challenge looked to be over as they sat 8 points away from the seemingly unstoppable PSG, who had not suffered defeat since the beginning of December. But a late winner from Rod Fanni for OM and a shock defeat for PSG at the hands of relegation threatened Sochaux has seemingly seen the Ligue 1 title race thrown back open. A win for Marseille would put them within 2 points of PSG, who could be equalled on points by Lyon too. The 3rd classique of the season and perhaps the most important.

Marseille –

After struggling for consistent form since the winter break the last minute win over Valenciennes may give Marseille a much needed confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s game against psg. Lacking their usual clinical finishing, Marseille squandered a number of good chances in a game that ultimately sounded a great deal closer than it actually was. It is unlikely that psg will concede the number of chances they offered to Sochaux to another team, so Gignac and co best make sure they have packed their shooting boots for the trip to the capital.

Elie Baup is without the services of Jordan Ayew (suspension), Morgan Amalfitano (injury) and Benoit Cheyrou (thigh injury), but can welcome back Kassim Abdallah to bolster his substitution and defensive options. Other than this he has a full strength squad at his disposal. The full squad thathas travelled to Paris is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Aloe, Romao, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and Anani. Having impressed in games so far Romao and Kadir will be likely to keep their places hoping to continue to improve their understanding of each other and team mates even further.

Likely starting lineup:
OM v psg

Who are they? –

First are the thoughts of psg fan Ross Mackiewicz (Follow on twitter @RossMackiewicz) –
‘Putting the rivalry aside, this is an exciting time for both clubs as we embark on the start of a double-bill in the league and cup. It really is a treat for fans of French football in general and one they should relish. From a Parisien perspective we need to bounce back after – I would say – our worst performance of the season away to Sochaux last weekend. You could tell the midweek game in Valencia had taken its toll and we looked a shell of the team that played some exhilarating football on that night. Pressure is on us though, a win for OM will put them three points off us and that will certainly put them well and truly back in the title hunt. It is a defining one for both clubs in truth. A win for either will have implications and Lyon will be watching with interest also. I just hope the possible debut of David Beckham does not make any minds wander in the PSG dressing room and attention is solely fixated on the job in hand. Marseille will be hoping otherwise of course. May the best team win!’

Having overcome media-spun crisis after crisis this season after the odd poor result, Marseille take on psg amid full flow of the Beckham driven media circus as the ‘angel’ of English football looks set to make his psg debut at some point on Sunday. As many have eluded to, Beckham offers any club a number of things; experience, class, skill; however, it is difficult to see what he adds to the current psg first team that any other player wouldn’t offer with a little more pace and exuberance.

Confirmed absentees for Carlo Ancelotti are Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva and Mamadou Sakho. These leave psg a little short at the back with the likely centre back pairing of Armand and Alex lacking in pace.

The main danger psg still possess comes in the form of Ibra. Although it is unlikely that OM will have improved their defensive discipline in the space of a week, the quality of Ibra will not have been lost on Nkoulou and Mandanda since their encounter at the Velodrome in October. His awareness allowed him to beat Nkoulou to the ball to stab home his opening goal, and his power drove home his second direct from a free kick that (if you were harsh you would say) the wall should have blocked or Mandanda could have got a hand to. As shown a number of times though Ibra is as susceptible as our own Joey Barton to allowing the ‘red mist’ to descend. Perhaps as Ibra drops deep it may be Barton who gets close to him and works some of his ‘British charm’ on the big guy in order to try and throw him off his game. It would be a poor decision if this was the only plan that Baup had so thankfully there are a few other areas that OM can look to exploit.

As Sochaux demonstrated last week, psg are often vulnerable to counter attacks (this was how Gignac netted his first at the Velodrome). Sochaux also demonstrated psg’s defensive frailties through awareness of positions and movement. The space afforded to them in the psg box when players drifted wide and then attacked through the centre was hauntingly familiar to the way OM have been attacked in the past.

As MarseilleUK’s Steve eluded to in his statistical preview of this game for Just Football, psg have not picked up the results type of results they would like against sides currently in Ligue 1’s top 10. Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and perhaps surprisingly, Lorient have all picked up more points per game against the current top 10 than psg. This perhaps gives OM a slight edge in performance tables, however, given the home advantage and current general form it woulod be foolish to suggest that psg have anything but the upper hand.

 

Summary –

For the benefit of the Ligue I hope for what would be considered a shock Marseille win. To have potentially only 2 points separating the top 3 teams with 12 games remaining would be a fantastic advertisement for French football. This would make it more competitive than any of the other ‘top’ leagues in Europe (Points separating Top 3 teams: Germany – 16; Spain – 16; England – 16; Italy – 11).

Above all though, a competitive match would be requested. Along with the minimal points separating the top teams, we need some of the top matches to provide a ‘wow’ factor. Most of you reading this, will be reading it because of your love of French football and the Ligue in general. Like me, you will seek out match reports, read reviews and watch highlights of the dullest 0-0 draws, just because you love the ligue. Unfortunately ESPN have opted to show the Milan derby and I can understand their choice. But I would love have the satisfaction that we all watched our dodgy internet streams for a game that had more depending on it, and was more entertaining than Gladbach v Dortmund, Man City v Chelsea, Inter v AC, Barca v Sivilla and Athletico Madrid v Espanyol combined!

Predicted score: psg 1v2 Marseille (hopeful, but what the hell!)

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

psg 1.50

Draw 3.80

Marseille 7.50

Other Ligue 1 games

Nice 2-0 Reims

Rennes 2v2 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v3 Lille

Evian 0v1 Montpellier

Nancy 0v3 Saint-Etienne

Valenciennes 0v0 Toulouse

Lyon v Lorient

Bordeaux v Brest

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

Out of the Coupe de la Ligue

psg 2-0 Marseille

31/10/12 – Parc des Princes, Paris

A very contentious penalty decision left OM a man and a goal down inside the first 30 minutes at the Parc des Princes. A coming together between Fanni and Hoarau on the edge of the area saw the psg man take a tumble, and despite Nkoulou in a covering position referee Antony Gaultier reached for the red and pointed to the spot.

Thiago Silva sent Mandanda the wrong way and netted for the home side from the penalty and it was always going to be difficult from then. Valbuena and Cherou had the best chances for OM in the remainder of the first half, but both were from well outside the box as OM’s 10 men struggled to get past a well organised psg defence.

5 minutes into the second half Menez played the ball into Pastore who played a wonderful lofted pass back to Menez who shot past Mandanda at the near post to make it 2-0 for the hosts. The remainder of the 2nd half saw OM create very little again, Cheyrou hitting the post with a long-distance free-kick, was the closest the visitors came.

After winning the competition 3 years in a row it’s about time Marseille let someone else win it, its just a shame that psg and a referee helped knock OM out.

Highlights and goals

Troyes v Marseille – Match Preview

Sun 21/10/12 – 20:00 (UK)

Stade de l’Aube, Troyes

Ref. – Wilfred Bien

Background –

After a more than encouraging performance and result against most people’s favourites for the Ligue 1 title, psg, Marseille will look to continue their early season form against most people’s favourites for relegation, ESTAC Troyes. In the game against psg, Marseille showed exactly why they had such an excellent start to the season with the players playing with grit, determination and a bit of class (discounting Amalfitano’s slap!) all of which had been missing in the embarrassing 4-1 defeat by Valenciennes the week before. In contrast to OM’s 19 points from 8 games, Troyes have only managed to pick up 2 since their promotion to Ligue 1.  Worryingly for Marseille though, Troyes 2 sole points have come from probably their toughest opponents so far in the form of home draws against Lorient and Lille.

Marseille –

Le Classique was built up to be one of the games of the season and for the most part it didn’t disappoint. A fascinating and entertaining first half showed OM in some of their best form of the season, both attacking, and for the most part, defending too. Two moments of class from Ibrahimavic gave psg a share of the points that their negative end to the game possibly didn’t deserve.

All of Marseille’s internationals escaped without incident or injury during the international break, so the travelling squad is made up of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, Raspentino, Gignac, J. Ayew and Remy.

Given the performance in the classique it would be difficult for Baup to alter his starting line-up or the formation even with players like Remy, Mendes and Abdullah impressing recently, they may be compensated with a Europa League start this coming Thursday. Given the weaknesses that Troyes have shown so far this season, Marseille should again look to play to their own strengths. Expecting the majority of possession, it would be expected that Troyes will defend in numbers and look to score on the break, despite being the home team. Marseille should not panic if goals do not come early as chances created for the in-form Gignac can be supported by individual efforts from any of the other 3 attacking players. If chances have still not been converted, then having a player like Loic Remy to bring off the bench is a luxury not many Ligue 1 teams have.

Expected line-up and formation:  

Who are they? –

As mentioned earlier, Troyes have struggled since their promotion to Ligue 1. Picking up only 2 points from 8 games Jean-Marc Furlan’s hope for survival from this season seems a long way off already. AT present they have the 2nd worst defensive record in the ligue, and one of the poorest attacking records too.

Some of Troyes’ good attacking play this season has come from play down the wings. If Marseille allow Troyes to attack in this way, then they should ensure that Nkoulou and Fanni are in position to defend effectively. The pace that Valenciennes attacked with in week 7 caught OM out too often, leading to a number of chances and subsequently goals.

Quentin Othon and Mounir Obbadi are likely to be the two players working the wide positions for Troyes. Abdallah and Morel must be careful to push their respective opponents wide and force them into crosses from difficult positions, allowing the rest of the OM team to take up suitable defensive positions. Allowing these two players time to dribble and possible cut inside would be most dangerous and is likely to give Troyes licence to shoot from distance and potentially score.

Summary –

Much of the media have this as a routine away win, and given the contrast of the two teams on paper, it’s easy to see why. Marseille can’t take this for granted though as another ‘Valenciennes’ performance would probably see Marseille returning home with no points. Ahead of a tough month with Europa league games along with domestic games against Lyon, Bordeaux, Lille and psg to come, OM need to continue their run of early season form, accruing as many points as possible with an almost full strength squad. The Valenciennes game should be fresh enough in the OM players memories to ensure there is no repeat of that performance and OM should win the game comfortably.

Predicted score: Troyes 0v3 Marseille  

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Troyes 5.50

Draw 3.75

Marseille 1.62

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Bordeaux 1v1 Lille

Psg 1-0 Reims

Rennes 2v1 Montpellier

Valenciennes 6v1 Lorient

Nice 1v1 Saint-Etienne

Nancy 1v1 Sochaux

Evian 0v4 Toulouse

Ajaccio v Bastia

Lyon v Brest

OM 2-2 PSG – Gignac vs Zlatan honours end even

Heading into what was arguably the most important El Classico fixture in years, Elie Baup opted to keep Loic Remy on the bench and start the injury prone Kassim Abdallah. This was a risky thing to do but one can only presume that his fitness levels were better than anticipated. There were no other surprises in the OM line-up as they prepared to do battle with their bitterest rivals.

All the goals came in the first half, but the scoreline masked the tight nature of the match. This was not a game full of many chances and as expected both sides were quite cautious, perhaps afraid to lose. Nevertheless, it didn’t prevent goals from being scored. The opening exchanges were fairly even, maybe OM had the slight edge. Gignac had already fired over the bar before emotionally giving OM the lead in the 17th minute. It was an excellent finish across the keeper and a massive goal for Gignac considering the circumstances.

Already, this seemed like it could be a potential repeat of last season’s fixture which OM won 3-0. In that game, PSG were also favourites but they completely bombed out under high expectations. Following VA’s 4-1 victory against OM the week before, a lot of people were predicting that Paris come to the south coast and inflict more misery on Le Phoceen, but so far it was the hosts who had the upper hand. PSG didn’t really play that well here and OM might well have gone on to win something like 2-0 or 3-0 had it not been for one man.

Sadly, PSG do have the best player in Ligue 1, perhaps even one of the best players in the world at their disposal. At times he is considered ‘lazy and selfish’ by some people, justifiably so in some instances. But there’s no doubt that when he’s ‘up for it’ and in the mood, there are few players better in the game than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Here at Le Stade Velodrome he completely turned the game on its head in the space of 3 minutes by scoring a ‘ridiculous’ brace.

The equaliser was from a corner when he sent an insane backheeled volley into the roof of the net, Mandanda was powerless to resist. The OM custodian was then beaten from over 30 yards out just a couple of minutes later when Zlatan curled home a long range free kick into the bottom left corner. Perhaps you could argue that no keeper should be beaten from so far out, but there amount of curve and swerve on the ball was incredible. PSG were amazingly ahead and the Velodrome was silenced, the visitors were in the ascendancy.

Understandably, a lot of OM fans were in shock, but credit to the players because they didn’t let these two hammer blows affect them negatively. They got on with their football and tried to get back into the match, crucially an equaliser came before half time. From a corner, Gignac rose superbly to heads past Sirigu and the hitman grabbed his 2nd of the night. ‘Le Bigmac’ has been in excellent form this season but you sense he really came of age here even more, to score a brace on the biggest of stages and such a crucial time really does show what a changed player he is now.

The 1st half had been pretty tight and congested, despite what the scoreline suggested. After the break, the game really petered out into a damp squid and not much happened. Chances were few and far between, with PSG perhaps shading them. Kevin Gameiro wasted their best opportunity but blazed over the bar. Overall, a draw was the fair outcome here and a point can be considered a decent return for OM, especially after they found themselves 1-2 down. There are plenty of positives to be taken out of the game and Elie Baup’s men maintain their position at the top of the ligue 1 table.

Despite having easily the best side in the ligue on paper, after 8 games it certainly looks like PSG wont cakewalk the title as most people expected.

Goals & Highlights

Marseille v psg – Match Preview

Sun 07/10/12 – 20:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Tony Chapron

Background –

Marseille are looking to get their ligue form back in business in the first, of at least 3, Le Classique’s of the season. The 1-4 defeat to Valenciennes last week came as a huge shock to all and abruptly ended Marseille’s perfect start to the season. However, while psg where defeated by Porto in midweek European competitions, Marseille thrashed Cypriot opposition, AEL, 5-1 at the Velodrome, a result that should restore some of the squad’s confidence ahead of this weekend’s key fixture. The same fixture last season came amid Marseille’s one bright patch of results and OM sent the Parisians packing after a 3-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Remy, Amalfitano and Andre Ayew.

Marseille –

Having started the season well, picking up wins in all ligue games through a mixture of good play, grit and determination, the Valenciennes defeat came as a huge blow to OM. The victory over AEL, although not convincing in parts, certainly showed just how clinical Marseille can be with converting chances, something they will need to show again against psg.

After missing out on Thursday’s game as a precautionary measure, both Cheyrou and Amalfitano return to the squad, and probably the starting 11. The full squad consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Abdallah, NKoulou, Mendes, Morel, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, Raspentino, Gignac, J. Ayew and Remy.

Having returned from injury Abdallah may be given a starting berth at right back, whereas on the left, despite a very impressive debut against AEL, Lucas Mendes may me dropped for the more experienced Jeremy Morel. Cheyrou and Abdullah will make up Marseille’s defensive midfield with the attacking 4 coming through the restored Amalfitano, Valbuena, Andre Ayew and Gignac.

One of Marseille’s best attacking threats this season has been Morgan Amalfitano. He has been more dedicated to taking on players, dribbling past them and firing in some excellent crosses. In most games when he has started well, OM have targeted their oppositions left-flank and psg should be no exception. Despite his strengths, Maxwell, could be a player that Amalfitano enjoys some success against. Should Maxwell, cause problems then the support of Valbuena will assist OM in their attacking positions with his ability to drive through into the channels, or drop behind our wide midfielders and provide a cross from a deeper position.

Who are they? –

After a summer of spending the sort of money that most clubs can only dream about nowadays, Carlo Ancelotti is finally reaping the rewards of this as psg have remained undefeated this season, despite a rather stuttering start. In the 3 draws that opened their season against Lorient, Ajaccio and Bordeaux, psg struggled to create and take their goal scoring chances, something that they have since made up for in abundance. During this period, they also appeared to be rather shaky in defence, often relying on the dependable Sirigu to rescue them, however since the inclusion of Thiago Silva in the squad, there appears to be a little more defensive stability from the Parisians.

With Ancelotti’s 4-3-1-2 formation, a great deal of the psg play often comes down the centre of the field, and with players like Pastore, Matuidi, Menez and Ibrahimovic at his disposal, who can blame him? This should provide a really interesting battle between the sides, as Marseille have generally attacked with width this season and then defended as a more compact, central unit, pushing the opposition wide. This is something that psg will have to overcome is they are to pick up only their second victory in 9 years at the Velodrome.

The main threat for psg is undoubtedly charismatic mercenary, ahem (sorry), charismatic talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having won the domestic league for almost every team he has played for, ‘Ibra’ has intentions of ensuring that he adds the Ligue 1 title to his list in his debut French season. The tall Swede has 8 goals to his name this campaign, 7 in the ligue. The problem he will pose for OM, will depend on how OM press psg further up the field. If psg are put under pressure into their own half, an escape route might be a long, high ball up the pitch, which Ibrahimovic is more than capable of winning in the air before laying off team mates. In these circumstances, Fanni, being the taller, should look to win the ball against Ibra, as this also allows the more positionally astute Nkoulou, to track any runs from team-mates latching onto passes or flick-ons. If the ball is played to Ibra on the ground, then the more ‘composed’ tackler, Nkoulou could look to get close to him and make sure that by the end of the game Ibrahimovic certainly does know who Nkoulou is.

As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of Thiago Silva, has certainly helped to improve the look of the psg defence, however, one of their criticisms, has still been the amount of opportunities they allow the opposition to create. Despite their reputation, Marseille have actually been quite clinical in games this season, the games against Evian and AEL showing that perfectly. Marseille playing to their own strengths of attacking width and defensive constriction should provide psg with enough to worry about.

 

Summary –

Despite the fact that the two teams provide a number of opposites for each other both on and off the field at present, I hope that during this game the two teams don’t simply cancel each other out. Also, despite the fact that this game won’t be aired live in the UK, it could provide Ligue 1 with some much needed positive publicity as a number of their live games this season have hardly been classics. In this, Le Classique, the top of the ligue awaits the victors, along with much needed bragging rights, and confidence ahead of the Coupe de la Ligue match in 3 weeks’ time in Paris. This will be a close game, but just as the occasion got to psg last season, the mentality and stability of Marseille this season along with the occasion, might just be enough to see OM through.

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 psg

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 2.88

Draw 3.20

AEL 2.50

 

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

 

Other Ligue 1 games

Saint-Etienne 4v0 Nancy

Montpellier 2v3 Evian

Reims 3v1 Nice

Toulouse 2v2 Valenciennes

Bastia 3v2 Troyes

Sochaux 0v1 Rennes

Lille 2v0 Ajaccio

Brest v Bordeaux

Lorient v Lyon