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Marseille target three-point tonic in Dijon

Publish on 07/02/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Olympique de Marseille will seek to build on their midweek success against Girondins de Bordeaux when they travel to troubled Dijon FCO for Friday's Week 24 opener.

 Dijon FCO - Olympique de Marseille 

OM have slipped out the race for a podium place after a worrying run of form that has left them with 14 fewer points at this stage of the season than they had at the same point in the 2017/18 campaign.

They come into the round of games in seventh place, nine points behind third-placed Olympique Lyonnais, whom OM would have expected to push for one of the highly sought after top three positions, so valuable as they bring with them UEFA Champions League qualification.

All is not lost, however, with still more than a third of the season to go, and the 1-0 defeat of Bordeaux on Tuesday lifted morale, particularly with a host of first-team regulars — notably Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin — absent from the line-up.

"They were rewarded for their work. The most frustrating thing in recent weeks has been that they have worked well, they have played well, but the three points didn't come with it. The boys have been exemplary in terms of their work, we've not shirked," said Garcia, whose team played behind closed doors at the Stade Orange Vélodrome.

"We were the only ones to play, so that means the three points were particularly welcome. But that now needs to be the start of a run. Three points is good, but it's not enough. We need to go and get a win at Dijon. We need to build up some positive momentum."

Thauvin back

Boubacar Kamara's maiden Ligue 1 Conforama goal helped start the ball rolling against Les Girondins, and Marseille can draw comfort from their near 100 per cent top-flight record against Dijon, who have won just one of the duo's seven encounters.

Thauvin will be back after serving a two-match ban, while Kevin Strootman — sidelined for one game due to his accumulation of yellow cards — is also available for Garcia as he returns to the club where he first forged a reputation as a promising coach.

He will no doubt have some sympathy for Antoine Kombouaré, the man currently in charge of Dijon. The ex-Paris Saint-Germain and En Avant Guingamp boss was appointed at the turn of the year with the brief to revive the club's fortunes and steer them away from the foot of the table, but — so far — his work has not paid dividends.

The side that was second only to PSG with a perfect record three games into the season has registered just 11 points in their 19 matches since with Kombouaré accounting for four of them in his quartet of league encounters in charge.

That has left Dijon just two points above the bottom three, a position that would have been helped but for a Stéphane Bahoken goal that condemned Kombouaré's men to a bitter 1-0 defeat at Angers SCO last weekend.

"It's a defeat that hurts, we are struggling to come to terms with it, to understand it," Kombouaré said. "I saw anger in the dressing room, disgust even. We played well, we kept the ball, we got into the final third but were never able to make the difference, to produce the final ball.

"There are a lot of encouraging signs as long as we continue to play like that. It's incredible to see Bahoken all alone at the front post. That goal really hurts, but it was promising. We have to keep working in the same way to pick up more points."

The midweek Coupe de France win over amateur side Croix lifted spirits as it clinched a quarter-final berth. Alex Runarsson played in that game, but is likely to be replaced by Bobby Allain in goal, while Naïm Sliti — who missed the match after taking a blow to an ankle against Angers — should be restored to the starting line-up against his hometown club.

Probable teams

Dijon: to follow

Marseille: to follow