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Can Marseille remain best of the rest against Brest?

Publish on 27/11/2019 at 10:00

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Olympique de Marseille will conclude Week 15 as Paris Saint-Germain's closest pursuers if they can beat Stade Brestois 29 at the Orange Vélodrome on Friday night.

Olympique de Marseille - Stade Brestois 29

OM have really clicked into gear in recent weeks under André Villas-Boas, with last Sunday's 2-0 win over Toulouse FC - their third league victory on the bounce - taking them to up to second in the table for the first time this season.

Six-goal top-scorer Dario Benedetto ended a four-game goal-drought at the Stadium de Toulouse, while Villas Boas also reserved special praise for captain Steve Mandanda, who did brilliantly to keep out an Ibrahim Sangaré header with 20 minutes to go.

'Deserved to win'

"We deserved the win," said the Portuguese tactician at his post-match press conference. "But I have to thank Steve Mandanda, who made a brilliant save in the 70th minute.

"We had a good game overall. [Dario Benedetto] fights for every ball, and he was able to score after an exceptional pass from Dimitri Payet. Benedetto never doubts himself, even when he's not scoring. It's rare!"

Marseille remain without long-term injury absentee Florian Thauvin, who has damaged ankle ligaments, while Saîf-Eddine Khaoui has joined last season's talisman on the sidelines in recent weeks due to a thigh strain.

History on OM's side

Villas-Boas has an otherwise full-strength squad to call upon, while Marseille have not been beaten by Brest since February 2012, but the coach is taking nothing for granted against a side who begin the day seven points and 11 places below OM in the table.

"[The Toulouse win] gives us a cushion over the others," he said. "It puts pressure on our pursuers. I hope keep playing like this until Christmas. The next two games, against Brest and Angers, are crucial."

Brest make the 700-mile journey southwest from Brittany to the Mediterranean coast with a spring in their step. Olivier Dall'Oglio's side were five minutes away from holding PSG to a 1-1 draw two weeks ago and battled back to hold Breton rivals FC Nantes to that scoreline last Saturday.

Midfield misery

Les Ty' Zefs are sweating on the fitness of a raft of midfielders, though. Haris Belkebla, Yoann Court and Paul Lasne have ankle, knee and thigh complaints respectively, while Christian Battocchio is ill.

"We'll take them as they come," said Dall'Oglio at his pre-match presser. "It's hard to look too far ahead. We have Marseille up next and after that we'll know where we stand. We'll need all of our players until the end of December."

Possible line-ups

Marseille: Mandanda; Sakai, Kamara, Caleta-Car, Amavi; Rongier, Strootman, Sanson; Sarr, Benedetto, Payet

Brest: Larsonneur; Faussurier, Castelletto, Bain, Perraud; Belkebla, Diallo, Lasne; Grandsir, Charbonnier, Cardona