Alexis Sanchez, Marseille, Chile

Reims-Marseille preview: Sanchez to break Still's run?

Reims-Marseille preview: Sanchez to break Still's run?

Publish on 03/17 at 18:25 - I. HOLYMAN


Alexis Sanchez and Marseille have their work cut out to defend second place in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table when they face Will Still and Folarin Balogun's in-form Stade de Reims on Sunday (8:45pm CET).



Marseille come into Round 27 as the closest challengers to leaders Paris Saint-Germain, but with third-placed Lens just two points back and at home to bottom side Angers on Saturday, OM could find themselves dropped to the last step of the top-flight podium come kick-off.


OM's poor recent form has enabled the chasing pack to close on them: Igor Tudor's men have won just one of their last three league games, and threw away two points last weekend as they let slip a 2-0 lead in the closing two minutes at home to Strasbourg.


WATCH: Marseille pegged back late on by Strasbourg



"The instructions are the same as earlier in the season, but opponents are adapting more to us," explained centre-back Samuel Gigot. "We take a huge amount of risks in the way we play and we can pay dearly for them. Recently, we have conceded quite a few goals, because it's not easy for us defenders. We are one-on-one at the back. If we lose our duel, we know they're going to score. If we win five but lose one, it's not good. That's part of the game. It's up to us to take more risks and try to find solutions."


Gigot saw fellow centre-back Chancel Mbemba score against Strasbourg — taking his tally to four league goals this season — while Sanchez also found the net, moving into double figures in the league and doubling his tally from 27 appearances with Inter Milan last season.



The disappointment of taking just a point was compounded by the early red card received by Leonardo Balerdi, which means the Argentine defender starts a two-game ban. Amine Harit remains sidelined by the serious knee injury he sustained prior to the World Cup while Sead Kolasinac is an injury doubt as OM seek to defeat Europe's most in-form team.


Still is yet to taste a league defeat 17 matches into his tenure of the Champagne club, who have climbed into eighth place and are within touching distance of a European qualifying spot as a consequence of a 19-game unbeaten run that started just before their current coach took over.


Balogun's 16th league goal of the season earned all three points at Monaco last weekend, and the on-loan Arsenal forward has now scored against all of the teams currently in the top five of the French top flight.


He opened his account for Reims in the 4-1 defeat at the Orange Vélodrome on the opening day of the 2022/23 season, but that was under Still's predecessor Oscar Garcia: the Spaniard claimed 0.8 points per game this season, Still is averaging an outrageous 2.06 per 90 minutes. What's the secret? Apparently, there isn't one.


WATCH: Balogun strikes again as Reims win at Monaco



"Whether it be Marseille, Monaco or Les Herbiers, we work in the same way, the preparation is identical," said captain Yunis Abdelhamid, who has helped the side keep a club record six successive clean sheets. "We know our opponents very well. They're a great team who put a lot of physicality into each challenge and we're ready for that. We're not the same two sides that met in August, it's not the same dynamic. We're going to try and impose our style of play to be able to win."


"Marseille are a great side with a lot of quality," said Still, who is without Noah Holm and Myziane Maolida, but Emmanuel Agbadou returns after a four-match absence with a hamstring problem while Jens Cajuste should be available despite missing Friday's training session due to illness. "It's a difficult task and we're going to have to be at the top of our game to win. Each detail will be important, but if we can take the three points, we will."


Probable teams

Reims: Diouf; Foket, Keita, Abdelhamid, De Smet; Matusiwa, Lopy; Ito, Munetsi, Flips; Balogun


OM: Lopez; Mbemba, Gigot, Bailly; Clauss, Rongier, Veretout, Tavares; Ünder, Malinovskyi; Sanchez


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