Marseille were really lucky to escape with only 2 goals conceded on Tuesday in Champions League. After scoring in the 1st minute Arsenal got bored and took the foot off the gas (only won 2-0).
Only fullback Fanni, central defender Diawara and midfielder Cheyrou (played 10 mins) were fully rested. Otherwise all regulars played, even Valbuena and Thauvin entered the game in min 60.
Marseille will still miss Andre Ayew (his injury will keep him sidelined for about two months). At the moment of writing Payet’s presence against Montpellier is highly doubtful.
There are two major issues bugging Marseille. The first one is upfront where Marseille looks like an average side. They rely more than ever on long distance shots, in an attempt to combat the lack of creativity needed to penetrate the box. In fact, last round against Ajaccio, Marseille scored twice from shots outside the box.
Most of Valbuena’s passes don’t make any difference as they are either back or at teammates on the same line. He fails to see players trying to build tunnels with deep runs inside the box and never activates them.
His tasks were entirely taken by Payet, therefore Payet’s absence (not sure yet) will be quite a blow.
The 2nd major problem with Marseille is defending the flanks. By now readers of this site are surely aware of fullback’s Morel poor season, but believe it or not, Morel’s substandard performances are also affecting the other fullback Fanni. Whenever Morel plays, opponents quickly realize Marseille’s weakness is on the left side and constantly push on that flank. Now and then there’s also an action on the other side, but fullback Fanni being a spectator for most of the game is disconnected and caught by surprise. Whenever Morel doesn’t play the actions are evenly distribute on both flanks, and Fanni being accustomed with no pressure can be overwhelmed.
It’s got to a point when Morel is to be blamed whether he plays or not. The harm is already done. The only solution would be to constantly use Mendy on that position and not switch between Morel and Mendy once every 2 games. But go ahead and tell coach Baup that…
Montpellier controlled the game against Guingamp last round but thanks to the referee they failed to take all the points. Montpellier had one perfectly valid goal disallowed and were equalized after an invented penalty.
Defensively Montpellier is pretty solid, starting with defensive midfielders Saihi and Stambouli both of whom are powerful and fast, and finishing with experienced central defenders Congre and Hilton. Also keeper Jourdren can be relied upon when it comes to long range shots. Marseille had hard times in opening up more fragile defenses, it will be interesting to see how they will deal with Montpellier.
Marseille can be surprised on counters, especially on the flanks, where Montpellier is very active. Both play-maker Cabella and striker Montano push on one side or another depending on the game.
Guests will be able to use the same team as last round.
When I saw this fixture I thought the lines will be different and bookies will give a reasonable +1 for Montpellier. But this time bookmakers did their homework and Montpellier +0.75 at 1.86 will have to do.