Mid-table but on fire: OM and LOSC collide
Olympique de Marseille coach Rudi Garcia welcomes former club LOSC to the Stade Vélodrome on Sunday with both clubs riding a recent upturn in form.
Olympique de Marseille - LOSC
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Garcia led Lille to a Ligue 1 and Coupe de France double in the 2010-11 season, and his employers past and present collide in Marseille in the penultimate game of 2016 in 11th and ninth respectively, but having each picked up 10 points from their previous five games.
A penalty shoot-out loss to second tier FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in the Coupe de la Ligue on Tuesday aside, OM have begun to click into gear under Garcia, with last Saturday's 2-1 win over Dijon FCO their third win in five games, and enough to steer them into ninth - their highest position of the season so far.
"We should have comfortably killed the game off in the first half," said Garcia after Bafétimbi Gomis snatched all three points three minutes from time. "When you're pegged back at 1-1, you might not have the mental reserves to go on and win, but we did. That's important. It's the first away win of the season and second successive victory. That's how we'll climb the table."
New Marseille sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has been handed a sizeable January transfer budget by the club's American owner, Frank McCourt, but despite being variously linked with Olivier Giroud, John Obi Mikel and Aymen Abdennour in recent weeks, no moves have yet been confirmed.
Marseille medical bay
Reinforcements would be welcome for Les Phocéens. Rémy Cabella will miss the LOSC visit with a hamstring injury, joining club captain Lassana Diarra on the sidelines. Henri Bedimo and Abou Diaby, meanwhile, remain long-term injury absentees.
LOSC haven't beaten OM since March 2012 when Nolan Roux, now of AS Saint-Étienne, scored to separate the sides in a 1-0 win at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. Les Dogues come into the Week 18 showdown with four points to make up on their hosts, but with confidence high after three consecutive Ligue 1 wins.
Coach Frédéric Antonetti was dismissed in November with the club languishing in 19th having also been dumped out of the UEFA Europa League in the third qualifying round. His former assistant Patrick Collot has overseen a dramatic upturn in form as caretaker, with last Saturday's 2-1 win over Montpellier Hérault SC seeing the cub five places better off just four games later.
'Brave and disciplined'
"We were brave and disciplined and we managed to pick up the win," said Collot in his post-match press conference. "When you get results, luck and confidence go with you. It's very good for us to recover our position in the table, for our peace of mind and to build confidence. We improved together. We're enjoying a good spell and we have to take advantage."
Nicolas de Préville will continue to lead the line having scored his third goal in three games against MHSC, but fellow attacker Ryan Mendes is missing with a groin injury. Midfielder Rio Mavuba - who helped Lille end a 57-year wait for a Ligue 1 title as Garcia's captain in 2011 - will likely miss the chance to reacquaint himself with the Marseille coach due to a thigh complaint.
Marseille: Pelé; Sakai, Fanni, Rolando, Hubocan; Lopez, Vainqueur, Anguissa; Thauvin, Gomis, Njie
Lille: Enyeama; Corchia, Soumaoro, Basa, Béria; Amadou, Sankharé; Lopes, Benzia, Sliti; Eder