Igor Tudor is counting on Alexis Sanchez's positive influence to steer Olympique de Marseille past OGC Nice and potentially to the top of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats standings on Sunday.
OGC Nice - Olympique de Marseille
- kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Marseille have made a bright start to the season under Tudor, the former Croatia centre-back who replaced Jorge Sampaoli as coach at the Orange Vélodrome in July.
OM have won two and drawn one of their opening three Ligue 1 Uber Eats games, most recently beating FC Nantes 2-1 last Saturday thanks to a Chancel Mbemba strike and Nicolas Pallois own-goal.
Alexis, Payet, or both?
Alexis, who completed his move from Inter Milan to Marseille two weeks ago, was handed his first start against les Canaris, and came close to opening his account for the club early on only for Andrei Girotto to scramble back and disrupt the Chilean's attempt.
Dimitri Payet replaced Alexis in attack at the Vélodrome and had a hand in both of Marseille's goals, but Tudor says that the former Arsenal and Barcelona man's place in his attack is safe.
Watch: Highlights of Marseille's 2-1 win over Nantes
"He's a champion, just look at the teams he's played with," he said. "He brings a lot of quality, not only in terms of talent but with his intelligence, desire and professionalism. He's not here to have a laugh.
"He really wants to give it his all, and is a serious professional. That has a positive influence on the team."
But for Alexis's match fitness, Marseille have a clean bill of health, although Samuel Gigot was sent off against Nantes. Sead Kolasinac should take his place in the back three with Leonardo Balerdi shifting inside to the heart of defence.
Not so nice for Nice
Nice were only five points and three places worse off than runners-up Marseille last season, but they have endured an abject start to the current campaign, picking up just two points from their three games so far.
Les Aiglons were beaten 1-0 at Clermont Foot 63 last Sunday, a defeat in which they ended the game with nine men after Jean-Clair Todibo and Mario Lemina were sent off late on.
Lucien Favre's side are also looking to turn around 1-0 deficit to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers on Thursday, so they will be less well-rested than their visitors quite aside from being without their suspended duo.
Watch: Highlights of Nice's 1-0 loss in Clermont
Nice, like Marseille, have done some blockbuster summer business, signing goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel from Leicester and Alexis's former Arsenal teammate Aaron Ramsey from Juventus, but Favre hopes there are more fresh faces to follow.
Favre: 'Some can't play the system'
"We did without a few starters at the start of the match, like the full-backs," he explained after the Clermont match. "But we have a lot of matches, and we play every three days. Some can play the system and some can't…
"I'm not worried more than that but there are things I see that I don't want to talk about. I try to focus the positives but there are inevitably observations to be made. I hope we'll manage to do something in the last days of the transfer window but it's difficult."
Nice remain without Kasper Dolberg and Hicham Boudaoui due to shoulder and back injuries respectively, while Flavius Daniliuc should come into the back four for Todibo. Ramsey is pushing for his first league start.
Nice: Schmeichel; Lotomba, Daniliuc, Dante, Bard; Rosario, Thuram; Stengs, Ramsey, Gouiri; Delort
Marseille: Lopez; Mbemba, Balerdi, Kolasinac; Clauss, Rongier, Veretout, Tavares; Under, Guendouzi; Alexis