Lyon v Marseille, Ligue 1, November 8, 2009
Lyon and Marseille both had successful performances in the latest round of the Champions League as both sides had their morale boosted before facing each other in domestic action on Sunday in France. Marseille currently lie seventh in Ligue 1, seven points off leaders Bordeaux and five points behind second-placed Lyon.
Lyon, whose seven-year spell at the top of Ligue 1 was ended by Girondins Bordeaux last May, qualified for the knockout stages of the premier European club competition with their last gasp 1-all home draw with Liverpool. One night earlier, Marseille, who were tipped by many as this season’s Ligue 1 favourites but have not quite lived up to high expectations so far, showed off their might by destroying Swiss side FC Zurich in a 6-1 thrashing at the Stade Veldrome.
The midweek adventures of Lyon though have come at a cost, with several important withdrawals ahead on Sunday night’s match.
Lyon will take the field without three of their first teamers. Defenders Francois Clerc and Anthony Reveillere will be missing from OL’s backline, while highly-rated Bosnian playmaker Miralem Pjanic will also be missing for the match.
Catering for those absences, French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan will be called upon to drop back into the center of Lyon’s defence alongside Cris. Further shake-ups in midfield will see Jean Makoun, who had an excellent match man-marking Fernando Torres in the Champions League, add further protection to the Lyon defence playing in the holding midfield role. (Lyon are 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.)
Up the other end of the pitch, Lisandro Lopez showed just what â‚¬24 million can buy when he coolly finished past Pepe Reina with the fat lady about to take centre stage. Bafetimbi Gomis, scorer of Lyon’s winner at St. Etienne last week, will also likely take his role in the Lyon attack, while the likes of Kim Kallstrom and the excellent Michel Bastos will offer extra attacking support from midfield. (Lyon are 13/8 to win to nil.)
Marseille may have won big midweek, however Didier Deschamps’ charges still have much to prove to confirm their passage to the next round of the Champions League and cement their credentials as Le Championnat hopefuls.
At least the Frenchmen look a side capable of scoring goals. Brandao may be somewhat unorthodox, but the burly Brazilian centre-forward does a reasonable job at leading the line. Flanked by Mamadou Niang and Bakari Kone, Deschamps has speed, power and skill in abundance in his offence, with Niang (6 goals in 10 games) in particular looks one of the best in the world in his role at the moment.
And the midfield looks pretty solid too. Benoit Cheyrou, after claiming a screamer against Zurich midweek, continues to churn out headline-grabbing performances, while Stephane Mbia and Edouard Cisse both provide fine cover for the defence.
But the real worry comes in the OM rearguard. Despite continuing to perform below-par, Deschamps continues to select Gabriel Heinze in the starting eleven, now favouring him at left-back ahead of Nigerian Taye Taiwo. Hilton, Laurent Bonnart and Souleymane Diawara should form the rest of the visitors’ defence while Steve Mandanda will continue to wear the gloves between the sticks. (Marseille are 11/4 to keep a clean sheet.)
101gg predicts: Lyon 2 – Marseille 1 (8/1)
Full match odds here.