Coach Bielsa adopted a defensive strategy last round away at Evian (Marseille won 3-1). Although Marseille were clear favorites they surprised everyone by switching back to a defense in 4 and using 2 defensive midfielders.
Fanni was in the lineup for the first time this season, not as a fullback but as a central defender. Evian’s offensive power is very limited, so they didn’t had a chance in-front of Marseille’s 6 defensive players. The goal they managed to score came only in extra-time when nobody cared anymore.
It is unclear yet if Bielsa will go ahead with this system, but to be honest Marseille look more solid in this formula, as there aren’t any open spaces at the back and they are still dangerous upfront thanks to individual talent.
Rennes also looked pretty good last round against PSG (drew 1-1). On one hand Rennes are worthy of praise as they were very determined and made huge efforts for the entire 90 minutes. But on the other hand they failed to completely take advantage of PSG’s improvised defense and instead of firmly attacking the goal they preferred to turn around and lost valuable time.
There were also some moments of carelessness in defense, coming especially from central defender Mexer. Happily for them keeper Costil was in great form and made sure nothing got past him.
Upfront striker Toivonen gets tired pretty fast and after that all his passes and attempts are miles away from target.
Only winger Ntep is really impressive and capable of inflicting real damage in most Ligue1 defenses. Really talented player but still needs experience.
Winger Grosicki missed last round due to injury and is doubtful ahead of this game.
Both sides have good form and confidence but Marseille’s game looks better from all points of view. Toivonen and Ntep don’t have the necessary resources to penetrate inside Marseille’s penalty box, especially if hosts will use the same system as last round. Upfront the skills of Payet, Thauvin and Gignac can destabilize Rennes’ defense (negligent at times) regardless how many players will make the defensive phase. Marseille -1 at 2.19
UPDATE: Rennes are still without injured Winger Grosicki.
Marseille: S.Mandanda, B.Samba – Fanni, B.Dja Djedje, Ben.Mendy, J.Morel, Nkoulou, Sparagna, Romao, Tuiloma – Alessandrini, Imbula, Lemina, Thauvin, A.Ayew – Batshuayi, Gignac, Payet, Porsan-Clemente
Rennes: Costil, Sorin – Moreira, S.Armand, Danzé, Diagne, M’Bengue, Mexer – Pajot, Prcic, Doucouré, Fernandes, Konradsen – Henrique, Toivonen, Ntep, Hosiner, Habibou