Kick-Off: Wednesday, July 28 2010. 20:45 CET
Stade 7 Novembre, Tunis, Tunisia
Stade 7 Novembre, Tunis, Tunisia
The League Champions
Olympique de Marseille burst through a pack of sides clustered around the top of Ligue 1 towards the end of last season to pick up their first league crown since the early 1990s, presenting them with the opportunity to enjoy a pre-season trip to Tunisia for the Trophee des Champions, which they compete in for the first time.
Didier Deschamps’ side have stalled somewhat in the transfer market since lifting the Championnat crown, managing only to sign promising Spanish right-back Cesar Azpilicueta, despite a flurry of transfer rumours linking them with some truly giant names (Diego Forlan, Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor included).
But while OM haven’t been able to strengthen their squad as they might have liked, they’ve not been especially depleted either, though there are a number of players, most notably Hatem Ben Arfa, who are likely to be shed before the end of the summer transfer window.
Irrespective of these challenges on the market, Deschamps is focusing on achieving success on Wednesday evening, but not at any cost. “We’ll give it our best considering we’re missing key players and we’ll do what’s necessary so that the players win the Champions Trophy,” Deschamps declared, according to Ligue 1’s official website. “I’m not going to take risks with certain players. The important thing is that the large majority of the squad are ready for the first league game of the season.”
Clearly this encounter isn’t OM’s top priority at present as they try to finalise their squad for the defence of their title.
The Coupe De France Winners
PSG, meanwhile, have been somewhat more bullish in their approach to this encounter, doubtless aware that victory could serve as a warning shot to those Ligue 1 sides who believe another campaign of underachievement is in store for the capital club. There can be little doubt that last season’s 13th placed finish will not be allowed to be repeated, and goalkeeper Gregory Coupet is keen that his side get off to a winning start this season.
“This match is important because the winners get a line added to their honours and in our squad there aren’t too many players who have won a lot of trophies,” he said.
“When you are a PSG player and you face OM then it’s a match to be won. There should be a great atmosphere in Rades. The match will let us get back on the bike and find out what real competition is like again.”
Antoine Kombouare has seen his side perform relatively well in their recent friendly matches, with a victory over Sporting CP the most impressive success of their pre-season campaign. While PSG haven’t necessarily made the strides they might have wanted in the transfer market – William Gallas has turned them down, for example – the acquisitions of Nene and Mathieu Bodmer should certainly give life to the midfield and allow the Parc des Princes side to attain a more consistent level.
With a crowd of 55,000 hoped for, this is an ideal chance for PSG to announce their intent for next term.
WON 2-0 (h) Catania (Friendly, July 24)
LOST 4-2 (n) Toulouse (Friendly, July 21)
LOST 1-0 (n) Monaco (Friendly, July 16)
WON 2-0 (a) Vannes (Friendly, July 9)
DREW 2-2 (n) Legia Warsaw (Friendly, July 23)
WON 4-0 (n) Mechelen (Friendly, July 17)
WON 4-2 (n) Sporting CP (Friendly, July 14)
WON 2-1 (n) Evian (Friendly, July 10)
There are several issues for Didier Deschamps to deal with, though he is helped by a clear treatment room. Strikers Brandao and Mamadou Niang will both purge suspensions during this game, as will teenage attacker Jordan Ayew.
Gabriel Heinze and Stephane Mbia have only just returned to training after the World Cup and will not be involved in any capacity. OM’s other mundialists may play only reduced roles.
Probable Starting XI: Mandanda; Azpilicueta, Diawara, N’Diaye, Taiwo; Cisse, Cheyrou; Abriel, Lucho, Ben Arfa; Samassa
Apoula Edel has been involved in the travelling party, though the goalkeeper, who made two terrible gaffes in the pre-season encounter against Sporting, is not expected to play due to injury. Equally, Guillaume Hoarau has made the trip to north Africa with the team despite having a suspension to serve in this encounter.
Probable Starting XI: Coupet; Jallet, Camara, Sakho, Armand; Sessegnon, Makelele, Bodmer, Nene; Luyindula, Erding
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hatem Ben Arfa could be playing his last game in an OM shirt on Wednesday, and he has already made clear his desire to perform strongly in this encounter. Fresh and hopeful of a call into the France squad to face Norway in early August, this is a great chance for the winger to make a serious impression on Laurent Blanc’s thinking. Can be devastating at his best.
Mevlut Erding has looked bright in pre-season and will look to make a big impression from the get-go in competitive games. The Turkish striker has proven himself to be one of Ligue 1’s most deadly finishers over the course of the last three seasons but without regular strike partner Guillaume Hoarau to aid him he will have to do a great deal of work himself.
PSG are talking this match up more than their opponents, plus it would seem that their squad is in the more ideal state to play this kind of fixture. Though this is a Derby de France encounter, don’t expect the blood and guts of a regular league match between the two, but both teams will certainly be going out to claim the first silverware of the season. It will be tight, and PSG’s better preparation may just make the difference.
Olympique de Marseille 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
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