Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

No Balotelli as OM go to Guingamp

Publish on 19/04/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


There's much at stake at both ends of the Ligue 1 Conforama table when Guingamp entertain Olympique de Marseille on Saturday afternoon.

EA Guingamp - Olympique de Marseille 

Guingamp enter Week 33 in 19th position, a point back from Dijon in 18th, while OM are fifth, two points adrift of Saint-Etienne in fourth. Guingamp have drawn their last two games, while OM recorded a vital - and dramatic - 2-1 win over Nîmes last Saturday.

OM put in a public training session at Orange Vélodrome on Thursday in front of 3,000 supporters and Mario Balotelli put in an appearance - to the delight of the OM fans - despite the Italian international suffering with a thigh problem and being suspended for the trip to Brittany in any case.

Against Nîmes there were satisfactions for coach Rudi Garcia beyond the three points as club captain Dimitri Payet provided the corner from which Valère Germain opened the scoring and then Luiz Gustavo scored a gem as he started for the first time since early February. The Brazilian put in an energetic performance and Garcia needs both the former Bayern Munich midfielder and schemer Payet to be at their best in the run-in if OM are to qualify for Europe.

Garcia: "I said we needed everybody"

Speaking before travelling to Guingamp, Garcia said: "I said that Gustavo hadn't been at 100% for a while, but I have seen signs of progress. I said we needed everybody and we saw how Luiz and Dimitri were important in the last game. I've counted on Gustavo since he joined. I wanted to sign him when I was Roma coach. I talk a lot with Luiz and I've seen signs of him getting back to his best, and he confirmed that against Nîmes."

OM have conceded 43 goals in 32 games, the most at this stage of a season since 1984-1985 and have an unwanted habit of conceding penalties, 11 this season and five in their last four matches. Garcia admitted: "We have conceded too many goals this season. We have lost too many games and not drawn enough. When you can't win, you must know how not to lose. We have conceded justly awarded penalties, and also some that cannot be justified. We have to work on our interventions with too much motivation and not enough thought in our own box."

Guingamp have only won five times all campaign and taken a mere 24 points, their lowest totals at this stage of a campaign. A slight upturn in form under Jocelyn Gourvennec has seen them bag 10 points from their last eight games, however, and the club's most realistic prospect of avoiding the drop appears to be finishing 18th and then coming through the relegation/promotion play-off.

After the 3-3 draw at Strasbourg, who beat Guingamp on penalties in the Coupe de la Ligue final, Gourvennec said: "If we play like that away from home then we'll pick up more points. At home we always show up and it will be like that through until the end of the season. We're armed to fight until the end and we will fight until the end."

Probable Teams:

Guingamp: Caillard; Traoré, Eboa Eboa, Sorbon, Rebocho; Blas, Phiri, Ndong; Merghem, Roux, Thuram

Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda; Sarr, Kamara, Caleta-Car, Sakai; Sanson, Luiz Gustavo; Thauvin, Payet, Ocampos; Germain