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Balotelli-less OM on back foot for Bordeaux

Publish on 05/02/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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OM will be without stars Mario Balotelli, Dimitri Payet and Luiz Gustavo, as well as suspended coach Rudi Garcia and their fans, as they play host to Bordeaux in their rescheduled Week 18 clash on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

 Olympique de Marseille - Girondins de Bordeaux

You could hardly cook up a set of circumstances more emblematic of Marseille's current crisis than the one Marseille find themselves in as Bordeaux visit the Orange Vélodrome for their Week 18 clash, rescheduled due to the yellow vest protests back in mid-December.

Let me count the ways...

First up, new signing Mario Balotelli is ineligible as he was not a Marseille player when the match was initially scheduled. OK, not that bad. But Florian Thauvin and Kevin Strootman will both be suspended, while Playmaker Dimitri Payet and World Cup winner Adil Rami are both recovering from injuries. Also, captain Luiz Gustavo is ill.

Oh, and coach Rudi Garcia will be watching from the stands after seeing red in Week 22's 2-1 home loss to LOSC. And to top it off, the match - in which Marseille, coming off back-to-back defeats with just one win in 12 in all competitions, will be looking for a first home win in the league since November - will be played in front of zero fans, a punishment handed down following crowd disturbances, also in the LOSC defeat.

Garcia: 'Can't count on anyone'

"I thought I would never have to deal with this situation again," said the embattled Garcia, whose side received a similar punishment in the Europa League earlier in the season. "You have to be capable of winning in these situations. We know we can't count on anyone else, especially fate."

However, Garcia can count on wing-back Hiroki Sakai, back from Asian Cup duties with Japan, with Maxime Lopez and Morgan Sanson in the centre of midfield and Valère Germain at centre-forward.

Not buying it

While it seems that the cards are stacked against tenth-placed Marseille as they look to stop their free-fall before the stated ambition of a top-three finish completely disappears, but Bordeaux boss Eric Bédouet isn't about to take the match lightly.

"If the fans would be there booing the team [as they have done in the matches against Monaco and LOSC], it could be an advantage for Marseille not to have them there," tempered Eric Bédouet, who side lost a league and Coupe de la Ligue BKT double-header against Strasbourg last week before having the weekend off, their Week 23 clash with Guingamp being postpoined until 20 February. "They will have some calm. This situation could favour them."

Big prize

A win would see Bordeaux leap-frog Marseille into the top half of the table - still with a match in hand - and as such Bédouet is tipped to go with a full-strength front four of, Samuel Kalu, Younousse Sankharé, François Kamano and Jimmy Briand.


Probable teams

Olympique de Marseille: S. Mandanda (c); Bo. Kamara, Rolando, Sakai; B. Sarr, M. Lopez, M. Sanson, Amavi; Radonjic, Germain, Ocampos

Girondins de Bordeaux:
Costil (c); Palencia, Koundé, Pablo, Poundjé; Plasil, Otavio; Kalu, Sankharé, Kamano; Briand