At the halfway point, Marseille sit bottom of their Champions League. Their win against 10-man Sporting Lisbon last week kept their dream of qualification alive, but they’ll need to back that up in the return tie on Wednesday.
Prior to last week’s 4-1 thrashing of Sporting, Marseille had shown two different sides to themselves. The side that was unbeaten in the league, and just two points behind Paris Saint-Germain, was a positive reflection of the early days of Igor Tudor’s reign. However, in European competition, they couldn’t emulate those performances. Despite a battling appearance against Tottenham Hotspur, they came away from London without any points. The larger disappointment was their loss at home against Eintracht Frankfurt.
However, there was a role reversal last week. The win in the Champions League gave them their first points of the campaign, although it was insufficient to lift them off the bottom of Group D. In Ligue 1, their unbeaten run came to a surprising end with a 2-1 defeat at home to Ajaccio.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Tudor reflected on his side’s chances of qualification: “The group is very strange. The team that won the first two matches (Sporting) lost against the team that lost their first two matches (Marseille). There are three finals, but not just for us, but for everyone. Everything is still possible in this group.”
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Defeat would leave Marseille with a mountain to climb, although Tudor sought to play down the importance of the tie. “It’s not a question of life and death, it’s a sport. We have to believe in ourselves,” he said.
The tie will see the returns of Jonathan Clauss and Matteo Guendouzi. The former came of injured in last week’s fixture against Sporting, whilst the latter missed last weekend’s game against Ajaccio. Both are in the squad for gameweek four of the Champions League. Marseille are without more long-term absentee Sead Kolasinac.
Marseille predicted line-up v Sporting Lisbon
Lopez – Balerdi, Bailly, Gigot – Tavares, Rongier, Veretout, Clauss – Ünder, Guendouzi, Sanchez.