Lyon vs. Marseille Preview | Ligue 1 Match of the Week
Sunday December15th 20:00 BST
José Anigo’s first match of his latest stint in charge of Olympique de Marseille ended in defeat in midweek, and now he takes his embattled side to the Stade Municipal de Gerland to face Olympique Lyonnais as they try to revive their bid for a top-three finish in Ligue 1. It has been a dramatic last week at OM, with a 1-0 home defeat to Nantes last Friday continuing a poor recent run of form and costing coach Élie Baup his job, just six months after he qualified the club for the Champions League against the odds. Anigo, the former Marseille player who is now employed as sporting director but has taken charge of the first team on more than one occasion in the past, was again asked to look after the side on an interim basis by president Vincent Labrune, despite saying just a few months ago that he would never return to the Stade Vélodrome dugout. His first match was Wednesday’s home Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, when OM played more than half the match with ten men following the sending-off of Dimitri Payet but looked set to come away with a draw from a battling display until conceding a late goal to fall to a 2-1 defeat. Marseille therefore became the first French club to go through a Champions League group-stage campaign without registering a single point, making it a rather inauspicious start to life post-Baup. But Anigo knows there is work to do with a team that has lost 12 of 20 games in all competitions since the beginning of September and came into the weekend in fifth place in Ligue 1, nine points adrift of the podium.
“I knew that the players would stand up to the task,”
Anigo said of the performance against Dortmund.
“We started to work together just a few days ago but we have discussed a lot of things. We keep making the same mistakes, conceding early goals and struggling at the end of matches. We need to put these things right. It is a problem of concentration and experience. Once we have sorted all that out, things will go better.”
Anigo notably led Marseille to the UEFA Cup final in 2004 during one of his previous stints at the helm, and he admits to feeling rather at home in the role of coach at the club. He said:
“As sporting director, I was in the dressing room with the players. I never really went away. On the bench, you see the game differently to when you are in the stand. From what I saw (against Dortmund) and from what I have seen before, I think there are things we need to work on tactically. We have good players with different qualities so there is something to work with.”
Just 12 months ago, the Olympico would have been a top-of-the-table showdown and these clubs finished in the top 3 behind Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season. But while Marseille’s slide to fifth place was deemed enough for Baup to get the sack, Lyon have kept faith with coach Rémi Garde despite enduring their worst start to a season since 1996. OL came into the weekend in tenth place, but a 4-0 reverse at the Parc des Princes is their only defeat in their last six Ligue 1games and in their last nine outings in all competitions. Last weekend, they became the first side to beat Bastia at the Stade Armand-Cesari this season, winning 3-1 in Corsica, and in midweek a team showing nine changes won 2-1 away to Vitória Guimarães to seal first place in Europa League Group I. Now they know a win will see them move to within a point of OM in the table, although Garde will need no reminding of just how patchy his side’s home form has been of late, with just six wins in 18 Ligue 1 games at the Stade de Gerland in 2013.
“The president made it clear that he wanted us to finish first in our group,”
said Garde of his side’s Europa League efforts, before explaining why he rotated his squad to such a large degree.
“We came into this week with two major objectives and the players have been put through a lot since the start of the season. The squad that we took with us (to Portugal) allowed us to immediately turn our attentions to the game against Marseille as of Friday.”
Bastia v Lyon
Marseille v Nantes
Jimmy Briand and Mouhamadou Dabo are in the Lyon treatment room while Marseille are without the suspended Alaixys Romao and the injured André Ayew and Mathieu Valbuena.
Possible Line ups