Olympique de Marseille boss Rudi Garcia is set to give some experienced players another opportunity when Angers visit Orange Vélodrome on Saturday afternoon.
Olympique de Marseille - SCO Angers
With Steve Mandanda, Hiroki Sakai and Boubacar Kamara suspended, the OM coach has had the international break to mull over who will replace them come the Week 30 clash. While Yohann Pelé is certain to replace Mandanda, sent off at Paris Saint-Germain in Week 29, and Jordan Amavi is in pole position to fill in for Sakai, Garcia has more of a quandary at centre-half where he must decide who to play alongside Croat Duje Caleta-Car.
World Cup winner Adil Rami, Brazilian star Luiz Gustavo and veteran Portuguese Rolando have all been left out in recent weeks, along with Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman and club captain Dimitri Payet. Garcia's faith in youth had worked prior to the Parc des Princes with 16 points claimed out of a possible 18 as OM - inspired by Mario Balotelli - got themselves into the thick of the race for a podium finish. The setback in Paris left OM six points back from third-placed Olympique Lyonnais with nine league fixtures remaining this season.
Eyraud: "We're probably reaching the end of a cycle"
With OM going so well, Garcia saw no reason to change his team in the French capital but back on home turf on Saturday he will be obliged to make alterations. More fundamental upheaval is in line this summer at the club owned by American Frank McCourt with president Jacques-Henri Eyraud telling Le Dauphiné Libéré this week: "We're probably reaching the end of a cycle in a few months and there will be departures. Up until now we wanted to be in an investment phase in order to get the club back on its feet. We took over the club in an extremely difficult position and we had the obligation to invest in the first team. We did that as we spent 190 million euros in two seasons, more than the club had spent in eight seasons. We weren't able to sell to balance the books."
OM fans face a nervous close season as Eyraud added: "We're not going to make the deficit any larger. We need to boost our revenues and keep a competitive team. Our responsibility is to get OM towards financial equilibrium. As in every transfer window there will be movement. We have attracted great players without being in the Champions League and we'll continue to do that."
Angers: Hard to beat
Angers, 12th in the table, are tough to beat, having lost only three of their last 17 Ligue 1 Conforama games, winning five of them and drawing nine. They have proved difficult opponents for OM in the recent past too with the last three meetings of the two sides ending in a 1-1 draw.
Balotelli, subbed at PSG following Mandanda's red card, has scored in each of his last three games against Angers while wearing a Nice shirt and on Saturday the new Vélodrome hero will be attempting to extend his record of having netted in all six matches he's played at the stadium.
Angers have several squad members who are coming into Saturday's game on a high. Ivorian defenders Abdoulaye Bamba and Ismaël Traoré have the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt to look forward to, as do Senegalese internationals Cheikh Ndoye and Djibril Diaw, who both played in a 2-1 friendly win over Mali on Tuesday, Diaw winning his first cap.
Olympique de Marseille: (to follow)
Angers: (to follow)