Sochaux v Marseille
Sun 13/01/13 – 20:00 (UK)
Stade Bonal, Montbeliard
Ref – Fredy Fautrel
Having fininshed 2012 with 3 wins in a row, Marseille will look to start 2013 in a similar way as they take on 3rd from bottom club Sochaux. Solid wins, if not performances, before the winter break came against Bastia, Toulouse and Saint-Etienne. Wins have already came in the Coupe de France over Guingamp, and in a friendly against Moroccan team Kawkab. Sochaux’s last ligue win came back in November as they defeated Ajaccio, asince then they have drawn 2 and lost 4. Sochaux were also victorious in last weekends Coupe de France competition, beating CFA 2nd division side Thaon 1-0, although they did require an own goal to help them. This fixture last season turned out to be Didier Deschamps’ last game in charge as OM were defeated 0-1, Boudebouz with the only goal of the game.
As they players enjoyed a week’s training camp in Morocco this week, Elie Baup has stated that OM will have to ‘bend over backwards to keep it (current form and ligue position) up’. He also made reference to OM’s away form, OM currently sit top of the away ligue table, but Baup knows that tough games away to psg, Lyon, Nice, Lille and Saint-Etienne still await the team.
Elie Baup has almost a full strength squad at his disposal. Nkoulou, Fanni and Jordan Ayew have all served their respective suspensions and are available for selection. Andre Ayew (hamstring), Lucas Mendes (thigh) and Morgan Amalfitano (knee) have all been declaired fit enough for the squad. The only absentees are Charles Kabore, Senah Mango and Foued Kadir who are all away on international duty in the ACoN. The 18 man team is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Abdallah, Fanni, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes, Morel, Abdullah, Barton, Cheyrou, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, J. Ayew, Remy, Gignac, Jobello.
Sochaux have shown that they are often vulnerable to counter-attacks and attacks down the wings. These are also areas of Marseille’s game that they have shown significant strengths this season. If Amalfitano can regain some of his early season form he will provide a good threat against Roussillon, equally, A. Ayew has shown recently his strengths down the left flank and should look to get the most out of Corchia.
Important aspects of play will also come through Barton and Cheyrou’s link up play with Valbuena and Gignac. Gignac is already showing in a few games exactly what the squad missed without him during November having netted 3 times in 4 games since his return from injury.
Defensively Baup may look for consistensy and thus stay with the line-up shown below. But with Diawara back it is possible that Morel (or even Nkoulou) could be dropped after some shakey performances of late.
Likely starting line-up:
Who Are They?
Sochaux finished last season in 14th place, 4 points above the relegation zone. They also took 4 points from OM last season (2-2 at the Velodrome and 0-1 at Stade Bonal). Eric Hely’s side have struggled this season, and part of this is down to their home form. They have only picked up 8 points, 2nd worst in the Ligue, coming from wins over Troyes and Evian and impressive draws with Lyon and Lille.
Right-back, Sebastien Corchia, has performed consistently well for Sochaux. He likes to attack and will fancy his chances against Morel, as he looks to cross and provide service for Bakambu. Thank fully, Ryad Boudebouz is on international duty with Algeria so will be unable to claim another winner over OM. Another strength for Sochaux is ‘keeper Simon Pouplin. Despite Sochaux’s poor position in the defensive table (14th having conceded 29 goals), there is no doubt that this would be an awful lot worse if it wasn’t for some of the fine saves that Pouplin has pulled off this campaign.
In Sochaux, Marseille are historical underdogs, having won only 13 times to Sochaux’s 30. The last few seasons have been a lost more even through with 3 Sochaux wins to 2 OM wins since 2008. Sochaux will hope to get as many points on the board early on to avoid the threat of relegation hanging over them, and if they are to do this, they must improve their home form. This will not be easy to do against the ligue’s best away side, and as a result my prediction is an OM win.
Predicted result: Sochaux 0-2 Marseille
Selected odds (from Bet365.com, correct at time of publication):
Weekend’s other Ligue 1 fixtures:
Saint-Etienne 2-2 Toulouse
psg 0-0 Ajaccio
Troyes 1v2 Lyon
Montpellier 2v0 Lorient
Rennes 0v2 Bordeaux
Nancy 2v2 Lille
Evian 0v2 Brest
Reims 1v2 Bastia
Nice v Valenciennes