Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Thauvin back for Marseille against Montpellier?

Publish on 06/04/2018 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


Olympique de Marseille hope to welcome back top scorer Florian Thauvin for the visit of fellow European aspirants Montpellier Hérault SC on Sunday.

 Olymique de Marseille - Montpellier Hérault SC 

Thauvin has plundered 18 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Rudi Garcia's side this season but could only watch OM's Europa League quarter-final first leg defeat to RB Leipzig from home due to a thigh complaint.

Away day blues

Marseille were beaten 1-0 in Germany with a heavily rotated side, with goalkeeper Steve Mandanda - out for the season now with a thigh problem of his own - also on the sidelines alongside centre-backs Adil Rami and Rolando.

Luiz Gustavo deputised well at the heart of the defence, and Garcia is confident his side can get back to winning ways, especially with Thauvin and Rolando set for a return with the 67,000-strong Orange Vélodrome support behind them.

"If we have a full Stade Vélodrome we know we can move mountains," said Garcia, who won the double of Ligue 1 Conforama and Coupe de France with LOSC in 2011. "We always have a chance as it’s a different atmosphere for our opponents."

Defensive crisis averted?

Left-back Jordan Amavi has served a domestic suspension, while Grégory Sertic's return after a long lay-off is a welcome one. He is expected to slot into central defence alongside Rolando. Valère Germain should come in for Kostas Mitroglou up front.

Marseille may be able to count on an impressive home support against Montpellier, but La Paillade have only lost one of their last 13 away matches in the league - to league leaders Paris Saint-Germain - and just three places back from Marseille, they have European aspirations of their own.

Montellier beat SM Caen 3-1 last time out, and Garcia's opposite number Michel Der Zakarian is confident his side can parlay that form into the Marseille game and climb further up the table.

'Extraordinary season'

"It's an extraordinary season," he said. "We want to keep pushing to be among the top seven. We've set the record straight after five consecutive draws. We now face all of our direct competitors. We have the quality. We must be ready for them."

Der Zakarian's preparations are helped by the expected returns of Jérôme Roussillon and Pedro Mendes, the former after a calf injury, the latter following a one-match suspension. Giovanni Sio's brace against Caen mean he's likely to keep his place despite Der Zakarian's penchant for rotation.

Probable teams

Marseille: Pelé; Sarr, Rolando, Sertic, Amavi; Zambo Anguissa, Gustavo - Thauvin, Sanson, Payet (c); Germain

Montpellier: Lecomte; Mendes, Hilton (c), Congré; Aguilar, Skhiri, Lasne, Roussillon; Mbenza, Sio; Ninga

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