Marseille, Bordeaux meet in clash of form teams
By A. Scott
There is a feel-good factor in both camps just now as Olympique de Marseille and Girondins de Bordeaux prepare to clash at the Orange Vélodrome on Sunday night.
Olympique de Marseille - Girondins de Bordeaux
Marseille are bidding to consolidate their spot on the Ligue 1 Conforama podium ahead of next week's huge trip to Paris Saint-Germain, as Rudi Garcia's side target qualification for the UEFA Champions League.
OM twice let slip a lead in a 2-2 draw at AS Saint-Etienne last weekend, although a draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is not a bad result, and their overall form is excellent just now. A comfortable 3-0 victory over Portuguese visitors SC Braga in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday means progress in continental competition is in sight, and that win was achieved despite Garcia rotating his squad.
The coach made five changes to his side for the European tie, although it was his main marksmen who made the difference - a brace for Valère Germain took him to 15 in total for the campaign, with 10 coming since mid-December, while Florian Thauvin netted his 16th of the season.
Highlights: OM held at Saint-Etienne
"We need everyone, and those who came into the team were very good, at the level we expect of them. It is in keeping with the last few months, the players change but the quality of the team stays the same," said Garcia, whose team will not have a free midweek until the March international break if they do progress in Europe.
"We will need everybody given our pretty busy schedule. We are at the start of a run of six matches, which could be more if we go through in the Europa League, so we will take a look at things after Bordeaux. Flo (Thauvin) took a good kick on the tibia, so we'll need to see if he's still suffering with that," he added after Thursday's game. Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda is also struggling with a hamstring injury.
Marseille's form speaks for itself. They are 11 games unbeaten in all competitions, and have not lost in 14 outings at the Vélodrome. They have scored 20 times in their last four matches. That augurs well, especially with a double-header against PSG in league and cup looming. But Bordeaux are not to be taken lightly.
Bordeaux's dramatic revival
The decision to sack Jocelyn Gourvennec has led to a sudden and dramatic revival for Les Girondins. After taking just eight points from the former coach's last 14 league games in charge, Bordeaux have won four on the bounce, their best sequence since December 2013.
The run started with a 1-0 win at FC Nantes, and has carried on since the appointment as coach of the Uruguayan Gustavo Poyet. His first three games have seen victories against Olympique Lyonnais (3-1), RC Strasbourg Alsace (2-0) and Amiens SC (3-2), and Bordeaux ended last weekend in seventh place, having been 13th when Gourvennec left.
Highlights: Bordeaux edge five-goal thriller against Amiens
"We are seeing the real Girondins de Bordeaux again. It is a bit like last season, when we reacted well after the winter break," said the striker Gaëtan Laborde, although new signings have helped, such as the Dane Martin Braithwaite. The former Toulouse FC man is loan from English club Middlesbrough.
"Martin has settled in well. The fact he has already played in France helps too. He speaks the language and he has come in at a positive time, so that makes it easier for him to settle," added Laborde.
Another win for Bordeaux here and this would become their best run of results since they ended the 2011-12 campaign with six straight victories. They have not beaten OM at the Vélodrome in a decade, though.
Marseille: Pelé; Sakai, Rami, Rolando, Amavi; Anguissa, Gustavo; Thauvin, Sanson, Payet (c); Germain
Bordeaux: Costil (c); Sabale, Koundé, Pablo, Pellenard; Lerager, Otavio, Meïté - Malcom, Laborde, de Preville