24/08/13 – 16:00 (UK – Replayed 25/08/13 08:00 on BTsport 1)
Ligue 1 – Game 3
Valenciennes – Marseille
Stade du Hainault, Valenciennes
After a fantastic start to the season and a 100% record, OM headed to bitter rivals* Valenciennes only to be humiliated in a 4-1 defeat. This is was happened in week 7 of Ligue 1 last year and Marseille will be keen to avoid a repeat of this abysmal performance. Marseille have again managed a 100% record, winning 2 from 2, Valenciennes have won one and lost one.
Giannelli Imbula won’t feature, he was withdrawn at half-time against Evian with an ankle injury. Imbula thankfully returned to training on Thursday, although this was just a fitness session away from the rest of the squad, and it was decided he was not yet recovered enough to feature.
Having played relatively well against Evian it looks increasingly likely that both Diawara and Morel will keep their starting places ahead of Mendes and Mendy. Failing a injury or suspension to either, we are in the situation where unless they play incredibly poorly, they are likely to keep their places, of course in a tight game a bad performance from either of those players could result in conceding a goal and losing, so for the benefit of the team, we may have to keep them in the 11!
The final new signing of the summer, Saber Khalifa, who missed the games against Guingamp and Evian is fit enough to make it into the squad, although it is not expected that he will start.
As obvious as it may sound, Payet, Valbuena and Andre Ayew should be the focus of OM’s attack. Valenciennes can be susceptible to attacks down the wings and often give away free kicks around the 18-yard box. The close link-up play between Payet/Valabuena and Gignac has been excellent so far this season and their skill and control should help them overcome a Valenciennes defence that conceded 53 goals last season.
Full Marseille team: Mandanda, Smaba, Diawara, Fanni, Mendes, Mendy, Morel, Nkoulou, Amalfitano, Cheyrou, Kadir, Romao, Valbuena, j. Ayew, A. Ayew, Gignac, Payet, Khalifa.
Daniel Sanchez’ team limped to the summer last season, only picking up 19 points from the final 19 games. They will be hoping to secure safety early this term though and push for a top-10 finish. This will be tough for VAFC though who lost Nicola Isimat Mirin (Monaco) and Gael Danic (Lyon). They have signed Bahebeck (psg), Chitu (Vitorul Constanta), Enza Yamissi (Troyes), Doumbia (Wolves), Novaes (Bastia). Out of these signings it is only striker Bahebeck, who is yet to open his scoring account for VAFC, who is most likely to start. Given his first performances he is likely to be involved in VAFC’s build up play and he set up one of the goals in their 3-0 win over Toulouse.
Rudy Mater has had an excellent start to the season. The right-back has pushed forwards helping with the VAFC attacks. As a result, 43% of Valenciennes’ attacks have come down the right this season. Interestingly, 46% of OM’s attacks have come down their left with Andre Ayew (not down the right with new signing Dimitri Payet). This should make for an interesting battle on the Marseille left side, with perhaps the successful team being the one that has the most success here.
Full Valenciennes squad: Novaes, Penneteau, Angoua, Lala, Nery, Mater, Traoré, Chitu, Da Silva, Dossevi, Doumbia, Ducourtioux, Kaboré, Melikson, Saez, Bahebeck, Le Tallec, Nguette.
After having to overcome the 1-4 defeat at the hands of Valenciennes last season in order to push psg close to the title, OM will need to make sure they don’t drop any points needlessly so early on in the season, especially given the start that title contenders Monaco have had. If OM keep their defence tighter, which they did improve in the Evian match, they should have enough in attack to ensure a win.
Marseille have only won 1 of their last 7 trips to VAFC.
Valenciennes are unbeaten in their last 4 games against OM.
Marseille have conceded 3 or more goals in their last 4 visits to Valenciennes.
Other Ligue 1 games
Monaco 0-0 Toulouse
Toulouse – Bordeaux
Montpellier – Sochaux
Lyon – Reims
Bordeaux – Bastia
Evian – Rennes
Guingamp – Lorient
Lille – Saint-Etienne
Ajaccio – Nice
Nantes – psg
Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)
*In 1993, the year that Marseille won the Champions League they also won Ligue 1 for the 5th consecutive time. The week of the Champions League final against AC Milan, OM had a game against Valenciennes which, if they won, would mean that they would win the Ligue without having to beat title rivals psg in their final game of the season. Marseille beat Valenciennes 1-0 and as a result secured the Ligue 1 title before going on to beat AC Milan in the final to be crowned European Champions. Unfortunately, though rightly, it emerged that Valenciennes player, Jacques Glassman and two of his team mates had been bribed by OM player Jean-Jacques Eydelie to take it easy in the game between the two sides. In the fall out of the bribery OM were stripped of the Ligue 1 title and relegated. As a result there has always been a little tension between the clubs and fans.