With les Phoceens struggling for winter form, les Girondins will be hoping to cause further woe to the Stade Velodrome club...
Favourites to defend their Ligue 1 title at the start of the season, Olympique de Marseille’s challenge hangs in the balance as 2010 becomes 2011. Didier Deschamps’ men started well enough, but December proved to be a difficult month for les Phoceens, and they approach their opening Championnat encounter of January with no wins in their last six domestic matches.
On four occasions OM have been held to draws in that run, and it is the two defeats that will disappoint Deschamps the most. Firstly, OM were the victims of what the French term a ‘hold-up’ when they were beaten by local rivals Nice in December, but there was certainly nothing lucky about Evian’s impressive 3-1 success over les Phoceens last weekend in the Coupe de France.
“It was not all bad things, especially the first half where we had quite a few chances. But we found ourselves 2-0 down. Evian took their chances, while we lacked aggressiveness,” Deschamps lamented after defeat in Savoy last weekend.
Excusing his side due to the fact that their legs were still heavy from an intense mid-season training camp, ‘DD’ did not seem particularly perturbed by the loss. If the cup was indeed being used as a warm-up event, however, there should be a distinct improvement in OM’s performance come Sunday night.
There is no love lost on the part of Bordeaux towards Marseille. Since claiming the Ligue 1 title in 2009, les Girondins have been the subject of raids from the Stade Velodrome, much to the chagrin of president Jean-Louis Triaud, who saw Souleymane Diawara engineer a switch away from the erstwhile champions before OM came back for Alou Diarra last summer only to be firmly rebuffed.
After a 2010, Bordeaux are still trying to build their team up to the level of les Phoceens’. Key players such as Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff have both departed the banks of the Gironde, and have not suitably been replaced. It’s been the lack of scoring power that has most concerned coach Jean Tigana.
Anthony Modeste has scored, but has played in an erratic fashion, while fellow youngster Cheikh Diabate has shown some nice touches but isn’t yet ready for the kind of responsibility required by les Marine et Blanc. Using some of the money accrued from the sale of Gourcuff this summer, Bordeaux are trying to broker a move for either Lorient’s Kevin Gameiro or Panathinaikos’ Djibril Cisse.
Until they get a regular scorer, Bordeaux cannot hope to compete for the league title, but they have shown that in one-off encounters against their big rivals they can still perform well. Paris Saint-Germain have been beaten at the Parc des Princes, while Olympique Lyonnais were defeated at the Chaban-Delmas. Even champions Marseille have been unable to overcome les Girondins this term, drawing 1-1 in August, and another such result would be a satisfactory outcome for a side with European expectations.
Edouard Cisse and Rod Fanni were both left out of OM’s squad as a precautionary measure last weekend, but both will return for Sunday’s clash.
Hilton and Cesar Azpilicueta continue to miss out.
Jean Tigana is close to having a full complement of players to select form, though there are still issues in his defence. Marc Planus, Henrique and Matthieu Chalme are all missing, which means the Sane brothers, Ludovic and Salif, could both start in the rearguard once again.