Top spot up for grabs in Olympico
By S. Willis
Either Marseille or Lyon could see themselves in outright top place with a win in Wednesday's rescheduled Olympico at the Stade Vélodrome. OM have some key absences while OL look to bounce back from a demoralising loss in Toulouse.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Olympique de Marseille - Olympique Lyonnais
Postponed due to severe weather in Marseille at the end of October, this Olympico fixture has grown in importance in the intervening weeks. With PSG falling to two defeats in November, top spot is now up for grabs if either OM or OL can take all three points.
Hosts OM - who can also take pole position with a draw - will be out to build on their 1-0 win over Lille on Sunday night, a precious win that saw them overcome the glaring absences of strikers Loïc Rémy and André-Pierre Gignac to get back on track after four matches without a win in all competitions as well as their elimination from the Europa League.
Now trailing leaders PSG only on goal difference, Elie Baup's men will be hoping for Jordan Ayew - scorer of Sunday night's winner - to keep up the good work up front while Joey Barton is set for a second Ligue 1 start following his debut a few days ago.
They will face a stiff test in the form of OL, however, who will be looking to get back atop the table after their jubilation at clinching top spot in their Europa League group last week was cut short by a thumping 3-0 loss in Toulouse on Sunday.
Although missing several key players through injury - namely Lisandro Lopez, Jimmy Briand and Dejan Lovren - OL coach Rémi Garde could hand starts to the barely fit-again Anthony Réveillère and Michel Bastos rather than calling once again on the youngsters - Yassine Benzia, Jordan Ferri and Rachid Ghezzal - who helped secure the 1-1 draw against Sparta Prague last week.
With both sides missing key strikers, the duel between France playmakers Mathieu Valbuena and Yoann Gourcuff will be key, with Gourcuff - still regaining match fitness after a lengthy injury absence - needing to pull out his best in a fixture in which, historically, the hosts have a considerable advantage with 20 wins, 14 draws and just nine defeats.
Marseille: Mandanda; Fanni, Nkoulou, S. Diawara, Morel; Kaboré, Cheyrou; Barton, Valbuena, A. Ayew; J. Ayew
Lyon: Vercoutre; Réveillère, Bisevac, Umtiti, Dabo; Malbranque, Gonalons; Lacazette, Gourcuff, Grenier (or Bastos); B. Gomis