OM take on pointless Guingamp
By D. Crossan
Olympique de Marseille start as heavy favourites when they host Guingamp on Sunday evening at Orange Vélodrome as the visitors from Brittany are the only Ligue 1 Conforama club without a point after four fixtures.
OM come back from the international break on a high, having turned around a 2-1 deficit at 2017 champions Monaco to win 3-2 in the Principality on Sunday September 2. Florian Thauvin turned the game off the bench, scoring the equaliser and then providing the corner from which Valère Germain, the former Monaco man, headed home the winning goal.
Having been frustrated in their attempts to sign Mario Balotelli, OM were pleased to see Germain and Kostas Mitroglou on the scoresheet. The bearded Greek had arguably his best game in a Marseille shirt and had headed the opening goal of the encounter. Mitroglou suffered an ankle scare playing for Greece against Estonia but was still able to play the entire second half against Hungary on Tuesday evening.
Garcia: "He's a more technical player than people think"
Mitroglou, 1m88, has now managed 10 Ligue 1 Conforama goals in only 1014 minutes of action - a more than healthy ratio - yet the 30-year-old former Benfica star has yet to fully convince many of the Marseille faithful. OM coach Rudi Garcia leapt to Mitroglou's defence in an interview with La Provence: "Against Monaco, he was on the end of two great crosses from Bouna Sarr and Dimitri Payet, but he does that in training too. He keeps the ball and he dribbles with it. He's a more technical player than people think. He's a little bit the victim of the way he looks and the nature of his game. What pleased me was that he was useful back to goal, he touched the ball a lot and dropped off the front to get involved. He fought hard with Glik and Jemerson and when he was on the end of balls in the box he got his efforts on target or scored. He was physically shattered at the end of pre-season because he worked hard, but now he's good."
OM, with 10 goals, are second only to Paris Saint-Germain (13) in the attack table after four matches and netting was hardly a problem last season either as OM bagged 80, the fourth-best tally in the land, and all this without managing to land a so-called grand attaquant (top striker).
Garcia commented after the Monaco success: "The top striker is everybody, it's the entire Olympique de Marseille attack. We have started well in attack this season and we're capable of scoring goals. When you manage three goals away at Monaco, well that's a good signal for what's to follow. We need to continue."
Guingamp: Rock bottom with worst defensive record
OM's attack will be salivating at the prospect of facing Guingamp, who have the worst defensive record in the division with 10 goals conceded. Over the last decade of Ligue 1 Conforama action only five clubs have previously been on zero points after the first four matches of the season and the omens are not good for Guingamp as of those five only Sochaux - in 2012-2013 - survived.
Antoine Kombouaré was rewarded for last season's 12th-placed finish with a contract extension through until 2020 but the former PSG boss is now a man under pressure and sorting out the defence is critical to Guingamp's prospects of a seventh straight top division season.
Defender Christophe Kerbrat admitted: "It will be easier if we don't find ourselves 2-0 down after ten minutes every game. Maybe we've tried to play too much football and fallen into traps. Maybe we need to be less good to watch but more effective."
Olympique de Marseille: (to follow)
Guingamp: (to follow)