France's biggest two go head-to-head
Saint-Etienne travel to Marseille in the old school classic of French football this Thursday evening, with Andre Villas-Boas and Claude Puel locking horns once again. Despite the visitors ending up 17th to Marseille’s second last term, OM are not heavy favourites therefore still offering value to punters, however the suspensions of Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto are a huge loss to the team. Villas-Boas’ men profited from the slow starts of Lille, Lyon, Monaco and particularly Saint-Etienne in 2019/20, able to finish seven points comfortably inside the Champions League qualification spots. They have more match winners across the pitch than the visitors.
OM have fared brilliantly in the recent meetings, winning the last four on the trot and the last two accompanied by a clean sheet. Argentina international Benedetto grabbed the only goal of the game in the last identical meeting and therefore his exception will be a weight off of the mind of Puel.
Marseille have reinforced midfield and defensive areas with the additions of Alvaro Gonzalez, Leonardo Balerdi, Yuto Nagatomo and Pape Gueye. The latter earnt a start against Paris Saint-Germain last time out, and at 21 he looked assured, the France youth international comes from the esteemed talent farm that is Le Havre and will be looking to build a strong first campaign in Ligue 1. Experienced left back Nagatomo will likely start the game in the absence of the suspended Amavi and at 34 with over 100 caps for his country, he provides experience to the back four.
Beginning the season with a couple of 2-0 wins will have pleased Puel in both an attacking and defensive sense and the permanent signing of centre back Timothee Kolodziejczak from Tigres is an underrated contributing factor. The loss of William Saliba is yet to be felt by the Green. Precocious talents in Adil Aouchiche, 18, and Jean-Philippe Krasso, 23, have also arrived with the former coming in from PSG, an academy that has been an embarrassment of riches in recent years. Krasso too is highly rated, the German born forward has represented Ivory Coast at youth level and was plucked from relative obscurity from fourth tier SAS Epinal. It will be exciting to see how these youngsters get on.
Florian Thauvin has got on the scoresheet in both of OM’s league encounters so far and will need to step up in the absence of creative players. Alongside Dimitri Payet they should have enough to grind out a result against Saint-Etienne.
Marseille – Saint-Etienne Betting Tip
Double Chance Marseille to Win or Draw + Under 2.5 goals with 888sport at 28/25 or 2.12.