Marseille are in a clear downtrend nowadays. It’s been 5 rounds already since they last won and for more than a month already they are having problems in the creation phase.
Last round round away at Sochaux they looked undecided in the beginning of the encounter (finished 1-1), allowed opponents to take control control and conceded very early in the game. It was a very poor first half and only in the second part of the game Marseille woke up and applied more pressure.
Despite pushing the game forward Marseille failed to build any coherent and dangerous actions and relied mostly on long balls, corners and set pieces in general. They managed to equalize only after some pinball football following a corner.
At a first sight this will be a difficult game for hosts, especially with play-maker Valbuena and winger Thauvin being doubtful. But the truth is opponents Ajaccio have the loosest defense in Ligue1 and most probably Marseille will have more scoring chances than in last 5 rounds combined.
In-spite using 5 defenders the spaces in Ajaccio’s defense are simply huge. If it wouldn’t have been for keeper Ochoa, Ajaccio most probably would have conceded at least 3 goals per game (now their ratio is 1.83 goals conceded per game). Ochoa is one of the most talented keepers out-there and seeing that his contract will expire at the end of the season there is already a battle going on in Europe for assuring his services. But regardless his skills he is only human and simply can’t cope with continuous pressure.
When opponents have strikers that aren’t that experienced and skilled, Ochoa can successfully deal with them, but if a player like Gignac will be given free spaces more than once, Ochoa will be overwhelmed. And given the poor skills of Ajaccio’s defenders, Gignac will have all the space in the world.
Ajaccio will still miss play-maker Cavalli, but should welcome back defenders
Dielna, Tonucci and midfielder Pedretti. Most probably they will sit only on the bench as they have been injured for a long time and lack form.
This the perfect opportunity for hosts to bounce back and gain some confidence. Even if Valbuena won’t make it, nobody needs extra talent to create chances against Ajaccio. Even a neighborhood team could open them up… Marseille – 1.5 at 2.07
UPDATE: Valbuena is fit and ready for action so Marseille will only miss Thauvin.
Marseille: S.Mandanda, B.Samba – So.Diawara, Fanni, L.Mendes, B.Dja Djedje, Ben.Mendy, J.Morel, Nkoulou – Imbula, Lemina, A.Ayew, Valbuena, Be.Cheyrou, Romao – Payet, Gignac, Khalifa
Ajaccio: Ochoa, O.Sissoko – Perozo, Nadeau, Dielna, Bonnart, Tonucci, M.Leca, Remiti – André, Lasne, S.Diarra, R.Faty, Mostefa, Pedretti – Tallo, A.Camara, I.Baradji