Wissam Ben Yedder, Monaco, Marseille
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Ben Yedder on fire ahead of Monaco-Marseille

Publish on 20/01/2021 at 16:29 - A. SCOTT

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AS Monaco and Olympique de Marseille go head-to-head in a European six-pointer on Saturday might, but with Wissam Ben Yedder in the form of his life, might the advantage lie with the principality side at the Stade Louis II?

AS Monaco - Olympique de Marseille

 

- Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

 

Ben Yedder struck twice as Monaco beat Montpellier Hérault SC last Friday, and could have had a hat-trick had his first-half scissors-kick not struck the crossbar, allowing strike partner Kevin Volland to score on the rebound.

 

Ben Yedder and Volland have now scored 19 Ligue 1 Uber Eats goals and assisted 10 more between them this season; while Monaco's victory was their fourth win in five - the other having been a 2-2 draw with AS Saint-Étienne - a run which has seen the principality club climb from eighth to fourth in the table, overtaking Marseille in the process.

 

Vintage Ben Yedder

 

Ben Yedder has eight goals in 10 career games against Marseille, seven of them scored during his six years with Toulouse FC - where he remains the club's top scorer since the turn of the century - but for coach Niko Kovac, the 30-year-old is aging like wine.

 

Watch: Highlights of Monaco's 3-2 win over Montpellier

 

 

"This was Wissam's best game," the Croatian said following full-time at the Stade de la Mosson. "He fought hard in the last match [a 3-0 win over Angers SCO in which Guillermo Maripan, Volland and Stevan Jovetic got the goals], and that's what I expect from a striker. It was a great match for him and the team."

 

Aleksandr Golovin has not started a league game since tearing his hamstring last August, but the Russia star is back in the mix, coming off the bench in Monaco's last three games. Kovac is unlikely to deviate from the 4-4-2 that has fired them to their recent successes, though, and with five more days of rest than Saturday's opponents, won't feel he has to.

 

Free-fall

 

Marseille had been fourth for four straight weeks when Monaco started turning things around, and although they still have a game in hand over each of the five teams above them in the standings - including Saturday's hosts - will be disappointed to have slipped to sixth having won just once, also against Montpellier, since these teams last met in December.

 

Marseille took the spoils that day, Florian Thauvin and Dario Benedetto on target in a 2-1 win for André Villas-Boas's men at the Orange Vélodrome, but the coach was compelled to hold crisis talks following last Saturday's 2-1 loss to basement-dwellers Nîmes Olympique.

 

Watch: Eliasson's brace stuns Marseille

 

 

"There were a lot of good exchanges, I think," explained the Portuguese tactician. "Not only from me to the players, but also the president to the players and the players to the staff. Everyone spoke, the captains obviously. Regarding what happened, we all looked in the mirror. I hope it'll have a positive impact on our state of mind."

 

Mandanda back… to his best?

 

Villas-Boas admitted that he had also called those captains - Steve Mandanda, Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet - into his office alongside the bigger meeting.

 

"What was said stays between us," he said. "But it's true that we need all three of them to be at the top of their game to be efficient."

 

All three should start against Monaco, with Mandanda having shaken off a thigh complaint picked up in the narrow 2-1 Trophée des Champions loss to Paris Saint Germain last Wednesday. Alvaro returns from suspension but left-back Jordan Amavi and defensive midfielder Boubacar Kamara remain out through injury.

 

Possible teams

 

Monaco: Lecomte; Sidibé, Maripan, Badiashile, Henrique; Diop, Fofana, Tchouaméni, Martins; Ben Yedder, Volland

Marseille: Mandanda; Sakai, Alvaro, Caleta-Car, Nagatomo; Rongier, Sanson, Gueye; Thauvin, Benedetto, Payet