Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Garcia plays down striker light talk

Publish on 16/08/2018 at 21:30


While Olympique de Marseille continue to be linked with a host of forwards, coach Rudi Garcia has defended his side's attacking record ahead of Sunday evening's trip to promoted Nîmes.

 Nîmes Olympique - Olympique de Marseille 


OM were certainly not shy in front of goal on the opening night of the new Ligue 1 Conforama season as they stuck four goals past Toulouse at Orange Vélodrome, two of them scored by captain Dimitri Payet, while World Cup winner Florian Thauvin also got his name on the scoresheet.

Garcia saw that plunder as a continuation of last campaign for the UEFA Europa League finalists. He told Le Phocéen: "I've said it before and I'll repeat it now. We scored 80 goals in the league last season and 122 goals in all competitions. I don't think our priority is to sign a number nine."

Linked with Mario Balotelli of Nice for most of the summer and with Simone Zaza this week, OM have Kostas Mitroglou and Valère Germain as frontline forwards in their existing squad. Garcia commented: "Mitro, well I think his minutes to goals ratio is as good as anybody in Europe. I hope he'll have fewer injuries as he's had a full pre-season and worked really hard. He really gave a lot in pre-season and he performed well last season when he was on the pitch.

"Valère started brilliantly in the Europa League. He had an exceptional Europa League but what penalized him was only starting to score in the league in December. Then he started to turn things around."

Having sold Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa to Fulham and Rémy Cabella to Saint-Etienne, Garcia believes OM may be a body short in midfield: "We have a greater need to replace Frank and we also need to provide some competition to Jordan Amavi at left-back, even if Hiroki Sakai did great things on the left last season and I consider Tomas Hubocan almost to be a specialist in that position, with very different characteristics to Jordan. And then there's young Christopher Rocchia, who has been very, very good in pre-season."

World Cup champions head to Nîmes

Nîmes cannot wait to welcome Thauvin as well as Steve Mandanda and Adil Rami -  two other members of the World Cup-winning squad - on Sunday, with defender Anthony Briançon particularly excited at what lies in wait this weekend.

Briançon said: "Up until now we haven't quite realised that we're in Ligue 1, my team-mates and myself. For now insouciance wins out but on Sunday it will be the best of the best. The match is being shown on French television in prime-time. For years we've watched those games on TV and now we'll be on the pitch and on peoples' screens. It's great and we need to make the most of it. We can't wait to play the game and it's a dream come true. If you'd said to me that one day I'd play at Costières, in front of packed stands, against an OM team that might feature three world champions, I wouldn't have believed you. It's going to be huge and I cannot wait."

Nîmes kicked off their season with an improbable 4-3 success at Angers, a last-gasp victory achieved with 10 men that was labelled "crazy" by boss Bernard Blaquart, who'll be hoping that the madness can continue on Sunday evening.

Probable Teams:

Nîmes: Bernardoni – Alakouch, Briançon (c), Landre, Paquiez – Savanier, Diallo, Thioub, Bouanga – Ripart, Bozok.

Marseille: Mandanda – Sakai, Rami, Kamara, Amavi – Sanson, Luiz Gustavo – Thauvin, Payet (c), Ocampos – Germain.