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September 12, 2010 8:00 PM BST
Stade Vélodrome
Referee:‬ Stéphane Lannoy‎
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Ligue 1 Preview: Olympique de Marseille – Monaco

Les Phoceens are still trying to get their campaign into top gear as they welcome les Monegasque to Stade Velodrome...

By Robin Bairner

Ligue 1 : Wendel (Bordeaux) vs Lucho Gonzalez (Marseille) - (Panoramic)
Turbulent Times

Olympique de Marseille will be glad to see the back of the transfer window, which caused so many rifts in the squad and in the backroom team, and they will now be able to focus on their football, with a home encounter against Monaco their first appointment of September following the international break.

President Jean-Claude Dassier this week revealed that head coach Didier Deschamps and sporting director Jose Anigo had a falling out over the club’s transfer policy in the summer, a schism reflected in the first team squad, which was divided by the issue of players arriving at the club, with the likes of Lucho Gonzalez unhappy at the club’s static approach in the market while others grumbled over the wages offered to new arrivals as an incentive to join the Champions League hopefuls.

These issues were particularly obvious in the early weeks of the campaign, which saw OM crumble to losses against Caen and Valenciennes. Since that dreadful start, les Phoceens have rebounded somewhat by defeating Lorient and tying with Girondins de Bordeaux in a fixture which the Provence club played with only ten men for the best part of an hour.

Monaco won’t offer easy opposition at the weekend, particularly as a new wave of problems have washed over the club. Deschamps’ side is on this occasion hampered by injury and suspension problems, with Loic Remy and Leyti N’Diaye having picked up issues while on international duty. With Andre Ayew and Edouard Cisse to miss out due to bans, there is plenty for ‘DD’ to mull over before a fixture that promises to be yet another banana skin.

Fear Factor

Guy Lacombe, head coach of Monaco, has played down his side’s chances of winning this fixture, though his unbeaten side would seem to stand a strong chance of picking up at least a point in the port city.

“I am afraid,” the moustachioed coach admitted to his side’s official website. “They want to retain their title and I think they can. This team can beat any other large side in European; we know what to expect. I imagine that they have no fear of Monaco. It will take a very, very big game, and if fate wants us to get out with some points, we will be happy.”

On the whole, les Rogue et Blanc have started the campaign in a satisfactory manner, though Lacombe, who has lamented his side’s underperformance last season, will again feel that they might have achieved more in the early weeks of this term. A 2-0 lead away to Lens was needlessly squandered, while a home stalemate against Montpellier should have resulted in a Monegasque victory.

Indeed, the principality outfit had to wait for the final match before the international break, a tussle at home to Auxerre, to pick up their first three point haul of the campaign, with debutant Dieumerci Mbokani a particular influence on that encounter.

With the squad finalised, Monaco will hope to push on, showcasing themselves as potential title contenders should the big guns continue to stumble. Despite Lacombe’s word, they have little to fear going to Stade Velodrome.



Didier Deschamps has some pressing questions ahead of this game, most notably in midfield, where he is looking for an anchor and a left-winger as Edouard Cisse and Andre Ayew are hit with suspensions. Hilton has said he is willing to step forward from the defence to play in the centre of the park, but Leyti N’Diaye’s injury issue means that the rearguard would then be left short as Souleymane Diawara is still out.

Stephane Mbia’s return to fitness means that the Brazilian could be pushed on, though the Cameroonian is more used to a central role on the field, even if he doesn’t enjoy it.

New signing Loic Remy will miss two weeks after picking up an injury on international duty. Andre-Pierre Gignac is not 100 per cent fit, so his presence in the starting XI isn’t guaranteed.

Probable Starting XI:
Mandanda; Azpilicueta, Mbia, Heinze, Taiwo; Hilton, Kabore; Valbuena, Lucho, Cheyrou; Brandao


Guy Lacombe is still sweating over the fitness of Alejandro Alonso, Lukman Haruna and Eduardo Costa. He won’t be making too many changes to his starting squad, despite the arrival of Chris Malonga from Nancy at the end of the transfer window.

Probable Starting XI:
Ruffier; Adriano, Puygrenier, Hansson, Muratori; Mangani, Mendy; Aubameyang, Niculae, Mbokani; Park

Field Report
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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
30Steve MandandaGoalkeeper
5Vitorino Hilton da SilvaDefender
3Taye TaiwoDefender
9André Pierre GignacStriker
28Mathieu ValbuenaMidfielder
17Stéphane M'BiaMidfielder
7Benoît CheyrouMidfielder
-Charles KaboréMidfielder
8Lucho GonzálezMidfielder
26Jean-Philippe SaboDefender
32Alexander NdoumbouMidfielder
7Fabrice AbrielMidfielder
15Jordan AyewStriker
20G. HeinzeDefender
16Stéphane RuffierGoalkeeper
26Vincent MuratoriDefender
24Nampalys MendyMidfielder
-Sébastien PuygrenierDefender
13Petter HanssonDefender
17Pierre-Emerick AubameyangStriker
6Thomas ManganiMidfielder
21Daniel NiculaeStriker
10Chu-Young ParkStriker
1Sébastien ChabbertGoalkeeper
22Frédéric BulotMidfielder
13Serge GakpeStriker
7C. Malonga NtsayiMidfielder
32I. LoloDefender
13Nicolas N'KoulouDefender
21Cedric MongonguDefender
Players to Watch
Lucho González
Lucho González
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Without many of Marseille’s most recognisable forward players around him, Lucho Gonzalez will have to raise his game to the top level to get much change out of a Monaco defence that has impressed in the early weeks of the season. The Argentine hasn’t always impressed since becoming OM’s record signing little over a year ago, but it is in encounters such as this in which he will be expected to excel.
Daniel Niculae
Daniel Niculae
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 21
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Known more for his set-up play than his scoring at Auxerre, Daniel Niculae has moved to Monaco in the summer to great effect. The Romanian has rejuvenated his goal scoring power, already scoring a couple of Ligue 1 goals in the opening four matches of the season, and contributing enough to be named the club’s Player of the Month for August. Such an instant impact wasn’t necessarily expected, as Monaco will be keen for it to continue into the weekend.
Probable Lineups
Steve Mandanda 30
Vitorino Hilton da Silva 5
Taye Taiwo 3
André Pierre Gignac 9
Mathieu Valbuena 28
Stéphane M'Bia 17
x 0
Benoît Cheyrou 7
Charles Kaboré 0
Lucho González 8
Brandao 9
Stéphane Ruffier 16
Vincent Muratori 26
Mbokani 25
Nampalys Mendy 24
Sébastien Puygrenier 0
Petter Hansson 13
Adriano 12
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 17
Thomas Mangani 6
Daniel Niculae 21
Chu-Young Park 10
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Zlatan Ibrahimovic
25 6
Edinson Cavani Edinson Cavani
15 2
Alexandre Lacazette Alexandre Lacazette
15 0
Vincent Aboubakar Vincent Aboubakar
FC Lorient
14 2
André Pierre Gignac André Pierre Gignac
14 1