By February 27, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

French Cup: PSG vs. Marseille Preview and Projected Lineups

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of PSG and Joey Barton of Marseille-Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

This Wednesday, two of Ligue 1′s best teams will square off in the French domestic tournament, the Coupe de France, when PSG face Marseille in another installment of Le Classique. PSG have lived up to expectations after a lavish spending spree and currently sit first place in Ligue 1, eight points above third-placed Marseille. The two teams played this past Sunday at the Parc des Princes- PSG won the game contest by a score of 2-0 with Nicolas N’Koulou scoring an own goal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic netting in stoppage time.

These two teams know each other well and the cageyness that often accompanies cup matches should therefore be eliminated. Marseille’s form has dipped of late with the French side winning just eight points from a possible 18. PSG have maintained their dominance in Ligue 1 and are in good form having won five of their past six matches.

Both clubs will have the majority of their players at their managers’ disposals. When the two clubs faced off just a few days ago, Thiago Motta missed out with a hamstring injury, while Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, and Jeremy Menez were listed as doubtful. Moura wound up starting for the team and Menez came off the bench later in the game, so these players will factor into Wednesday’s contest. Carlo Ancelotti will hope to have his star center back Thiago Silva back in time for Wednesday and could have left him out of the squad on Sunday in hopes that a couple extra days rest could help him get back to full fitness.

Marseille were only without midfielder Benoit Cheyrou and Jordan Ayew due to a red card suspension, but in the Coupe de France, the red card suspension will not carry over and Ayew will be available for coach Elie Baup.

Having played and beaten Marseille very recently, Ancelotti will likely opt to field the same lineup that won him that result. Salvatore Sirigu will start in goal, behind a defense of Maxwell, Alex, Mamadou Sakho, and Christophe Jallet. In Thiago Silva is deemed to be fit, he will likely supplant Alex or Sakho as one of the starting center backs. Ancelotti used a 4-2-2-2 in Sunday’s match, with Marco Verratti and France international Blaise Matuidi reprising their roles as the two defensive midfielders. South American duo Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura will likely be fielded as the two advanced midfielders, with Jeremy Menez representing an option off the bench. In attack, Ezequiel Lavezzi will partner Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Elie Baup has predominantly used the 4-2-3-1 and despite losing with that formation on Sunday, he will likely continue with his favored formation. Steve Mandanda will start in goal for Olympique de Marseille and will need to improve upon his performance at the Parc des Princes last Sunday if Marseille is to have a chance at winning this match. At the back, Rod Fanni, Nicolas N’Koulou, Lucas Mendes, and Jeremy Morel will likely be named the starters. Souleymane Diawara represents another option at center back, but has played very sparingly this season, making just eight appearances for Marseille.

If Benoit Cheyrou can return to fitness he will certainly be started as one of the two midfield pivots, with the other being the ever-controversial Joey Barton. Morgan Amalfitano could be preferred to Foued Kadir, with the talismanic Mathieu Valbuena and Andre Ayew partnering Amalfitano in attacking midfield. Andre-Pierre Gignac was given the start last Sunday and couldn’t find the back of the net. Jordan Ayew is now available since the red card suspension doesn’t carry over and Baup could choose to start the Ghanaian over Gignac.

These are two of the best teams France has to offer and while PSG have somewhat separated themselves from the rest of Ligue 1 in terms of talent, Marseille should not be underestimated. The two teams had nearly all their players fit when they played each other just two days ago, so Sunday’s match should be a good indicator of what is to come. With the firepower PSG have up front, expect them to score a couple goals. Marseille won’t be shut out two games in a row and should notch at least one before the final whistle. I expect the match to finish 2-1 in favor of PSG, as they continue to prove themselves as France’s best club team.

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