UEFA Champions League Preview: Olympique Marseille vs FC Bayern Munchen
In 2010, Lyon took permission from the French FA to postpone their league match to allow them to prepare adequately to play Bayern in the Champions League semi-finals.
Bayern, then involved in three competitions, made the same request to the DFB only to be turned down in almost insulting fashion.
Olympique Marseille has made a request to the French FA to cancel their league match next week, and permission has been granted. Between the two legs, Marseille can now afford a full week of rest. Bayern hasn't bothered to make such a request to the DFB, despite being involved in three competitions.
Jupp Heynckes instead, is using some rotation to keep his thin squad fresh.
At the weekend, Bayern played Hanover, and finally beat them. They didn't win by six goals—they won by a single goal, but the margin of victory should have been higher as Bayern missed the easiest of chances.
Bayern won by two beautiful goals—one scored by Toni Kroos, as he chipped the on-rushing Ron Robert Zieler, and the second by Mario Gomez, as he cut across a defender and shot towards the far post.
Hanover got one back through a bicycle kick by Didier Ya Konan. Jerome Boateng almost scored an own goal to give Hanover a point, but was denied by Manuel Neuer. Boateng started to tire out at the end but otherwise played a very good match.
Neuer had one of his crazy moments where he almost allowed Hanover to score, but was bailed out by his defence.
Marseille drew 1-1 against Nice collecting only their third point in their last eight league matches this weekend. Their last win in the league came on the 29th of January against Rennes, 1-2.
They are missing their captain and keeper, Steve Mandanda for this one, as well as central defender Souleymane Diawara due to suspensions. Reports coming out today suggest that Loic Remy won't recover in time from a hamstring injury for the match.
As far as Bayern is concerned, Daniel Van Buyten is definitely out of this one.
Bastian Schweinsteiger might return to the squad, but will most definitely not start. Expect Thomas Muller and Gomez to return to the starting line-up after having been rested on Saturday.
Jupp Heynckes had brought in Danijel Pranjic in defensive midfield and pushed Toni Kroos forward against H96. He had also started Ivica Olic, who despite not being able to score, ran around like the Olic we all know and love.
Marseille has a great record against German teams.
They beat Dortmund twice int he group stages, 3-0 and 2-3 even though the second game was a strange one. Dortmund perhaps gave away a 2-0 lead when they realized Olympiakos was beating Arsenal and they would have to settle for the Europa League even if they beat Marseille.
Here's the strange thing: if Marseille had not sent Inter packing, Bayern would have played Inter for a third campaign in a row. Marseille won the first leg just as Basel did, 1-0, with a goal from Andre Ayew late in the match against Inter in the previous round.
In the second leg, they were behind 1-0 thanks to Diego Milito, but turned it around when Brandao scored the equalizer in the last minute. Giampaolo Pazzini's penalty thus turned out to be nothing more than a simple side note in the tie.
Bayern has won three out of their four knockout ties against French clubs, the most recent coming against Lyon in 2010.
However, their overall record in France is poor. They lost to Bordeaux twice in the group stages in 2009.
Franck Ribery will be returning to his former stomping ground. He moved to Bayern from Marseille in 2007 and expects a tough match. Luiz Gustavo expects a tough match too, as he does not feel that Bayern are favourites. Didier Deschamps feels that beating Bayern would be difficult but not a 'miracle'.
The big question really is whether Bayern's defence will hold up.
Marseille has the second best defence in the Champions League behind Real Madrid. Marseille's problems are at the other end of the pitch where they are failing to find the back of the net.
This is perhaps what the line-up will be:
Philipp Lahm—Jerome Boateng—Holger Badstuber—David Alaba
Luiz Gustavo—Toni Kroos
Arjen Robben—Thomas Mueller—Franck Ribery
If you count the win over Gladbach in the Pokal semifinals, Bayern has actually won five matches on the bounce.
The mood in the camp is brilliant, and nowadays Franz Beckenbauer seems to be talking up Bayern's chances against Barcelona.
For now, Franz shouldn't really say much. This season might still end trophy-less as we all know.
I would like to hear your thoughts on what might happen in this match. Feel free to leave your comments below.
All opinions of coaches and players courtesy of uefa.com, goal.com and fcbayern.de/en
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