Olympique de Marseille - Nîmes Olympique
OM have managed only one point from their last three outings and have fallen to fifth in the table, two points back from Saint-Etienne in fourth. A 2-0 loss at Bordeaux last time out extended the club's winless run at Les Girondins to a remarkable 42 years. Chasing a European finish, Rudi Garcia's side have no choice but to beat Nîmes, a club they fell 3-1 to back in Week 2.
"We have to beat Nîmes," stated Garcia. "Before talking about a podium finish, we need to at least climb back up to fourth in the table. We need to be creative and ambitious and look forward."
Last season's Europa League finalists are capable of going on another storming run according to the former Roma boss: "Three weeks ago we were on a run where we'd taken 16 points out of a possible 18," said Garcia. "It was much harder to get out of the period of December-January when we hadn't won for a long time, than it will be to get going this time."
Garcia is hopeful he'll have his key players available, even if Mario Balotelli, Morgan Sanson, Luiz Gustvo, Adil Rami, Hiroki Sakai, Lucas Ocampos, Kevin Strootman and Rolando all sat out Thursday morning's training session.
Balotelli has scored seven Ligue 1 Conforama goals in 10 games for the club since joining from Nice and Garcia commented: "People sat out training but that's normal. Mario and Morgan haven't trained normally this week. For Mario it s following on from the problem he had at Bordeaux (thigh). As for Morgan, he hurt himself (thigh) during the game. But everything's getting better."
Brazilian Luiz Gustavo hasn't started a game since Week 23 and Garcia commented: "He's a formidable man and a formidable player… He's still go the same importance in the squad and I encourage him every day to keep being the leader he is… I just want one thing and that is to rediscover my great Luiz Gustavo, but it doesn't only depend on me."
10th in the table on 43 points, promoted Nîmes are only five points back from OM and have scored three or more goals in a remarkable eight matches this season. Only the top two of PSG and LOSC have managed that feat more often than Bernard Blaquart's team, who were 3-1 winners against Rennes in midweek.
Blaquart said: "The dark bit of the evening was Anthony Briançon getting sent off. At Marseille we'll have a new-look defence without Briançon, suspended, without Loïck Landre and Sofiane Alakouch, who are injured, and maybe without Hervé Lybohy who has a dead leg."
Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda; Sarr, Caleta-Car, Kamara, Sakai; Lopez, Strootman; Thauvin, Payet (c); Germain, Balotelli
Nîmes: Bernardoni; Ripart (c), Miguel, Lybohy, Maouassa; Ferri, Savanier, Bobichon; Thioub, Alioui, Bouanga