Marseille hope for improvement on return home
By A. Scott
Bafétimbi Gomis and Olympique de Marseille face AS Nancy Lorraine on Sunday hoping a return to the Orange Vélodrome can help them start scoring goals and winning games.
Olympique de Marseille - AS Nancy Lorraine
It has been a slow start for Rudi Garcia in charge of OM, with Wednesday's 0-0 draw away to AS Saint-Etienne leaving them with just one win and two goals scored in six Ligue 1 matches since the appointment of the former LOSC and AS Roma coach.
There have been three goalless draws, two heavy defeats away to Montpellier Hérault SC and AS Monaco and a narrow 1-0 win at home to SM Caen in that time, and Marseille have remained stuck between 10th and 12th place in the Ligue 1 table in the six weeks since Garcia's arrival. Meanwhile, Gomis - top scorer with six league goals - has not netted since the 1-0 win over FC Metz that immediately preceded the new coach's arrival.
However, Garcia saw plenty of signs of encouragement against Saint-Etienne as Marseille created the best chances at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard only to come up against an inspired Stéphane Ruffier in the home goal.
"Those who know me will know that it is the performance that counts. Only good performances will bring results," Garcia said in the wake of that match. "We can get wins by a miracle or by luck, but if you play badly in 10 matches you won't win many of them. If we are capable of playing like that again on a regular basis, we will often win. We need to be able to do that, starting on Sunday if possible."
Garcia, who can welcome back Zinedine Machach after suspension this weekend, added: "We were fluid. We played like a real team and were able to control the game. Saint-Etienne practically never lose and concede few goals, so to contain them on their own turf was rather good."
It was certainly an improvement on the 4-0 loss in Monaco last weekend and now Marseille will be looking to extend their good home form. After struggling desperately in front of their own fans last season, OM have yet to lose at the Vélodrome in the current campaign in seven matches. They have won four and drawn three of their games there and have conceded just a solitary goal.
Pedretti, Diarra face old club
However, Nancy, who won 1-0 on their last visit to the Vélodrome back in February 2013, are unlikely to make life easy. After all, Pablo Correa's side travel to the south of France fresh from a stunning 4-0 win against regional rivals FC Metz in midweek. Benoît Pedretti put them in front at the Stade Marcel-Picot before Joffrey Cuffaut, Issiar Dia and Youssef Aït Bennasser all netted late on to make it a memorable night for a club who are back in the top flight this season after a three-year absence.
"It was a great win. There was style, a result and we rediscovered our cutting edge. I had the feeling that my team was striving for the win the whole time, and that influenced the result," said Correa after the match.
"We need to continue along this road because that will make the difference," added the defender Tobias Badila, and Nancy are certainly in fine form just now.
The win over Metz lifted them out of the relegation zone for just the second time this season and up to their highest position yet of 13th. They have gone three games unbeaten, all without conceding a goal, and their only defeat in their last seven outings was their 6-0 hammering in Monaco.
A win here will take them above Marseille in the table and they will depend heavily on the experience of two former OM players in midfield - Pedretti, 36, scored his first Ligue 1 goal since August 2013 in midweek and now goes back to face the club where he spent the 2004-05 season. Signed from FC Sochaux-Montbéliard for €4.5 million, the then-France international lasted just a year before leaving for Olympique Lyonnais. Alou Diarra, 35, will hope for a recall after starting on the bench against Metz. He joined OM from Girondins de Bordeaux in 2011 but left for West Ham United the following year.
Marseille: Pelé; Sakai, Fanni, Rolando, Hubocan; Zambo Anguissa, Vainqueur, Lopez; Thauvin, Gomis (c), Njie
Nancy: Chernik; Cuffaut, Diagne, Lenglet, Badila; Pedretti, Diarra, N'Guessan; Dia, Hadji (c), Koura