Olympique De Marseille's Biggest Remaining Fixtures This Season

Paul MullaneyContributor IIFebruary 7, 2013

Olympique De Marseille's Biggest Remaining Fixtures This Season

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    We’re into February now, and those who predicted preseason that OM would struggle to keep the pace might be surprised to see that, up until now at least, they’ve managed to do just that.

    They might have been eliminated from the Coupe de la Ligue and the Europa League earlier than they would have hoped, but they remain in the French Cup, and although PSG look as though they might pull away from here until the end of the season, for the time being OM are still very much in contention.

    Of course, there remains a lot of football to be played.

    After 23 games OM sits in third place, now six points adrift of leaders Paris and three behind Lyon, but there are also only five points separating them and seventh-placed Rennes.

    If results go their way, they could be top within the next month, but it’s just as possible that they’ll drop down a few places should results go against them.

    We’re now at a stage in the season where every game is crucial, but we reckon that if OM are to finish the season strongly, it will come down to how they get on in these five games.

PSG V OM: Coupe De France, February 27th

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    If we are to make the case that league success for OM should come first and foremost, then we would maybe have to argue that from these five matches, the cup tie with PSG is their least important.

    But it is a cup tie.

    And it is against PSG.

    Any time these two rivals meet the game is of enormous significance, but the prospect of preventing Paris from getting their hands on this particular piece of silverware, and to give themselves a chance of winning it must give it even more edge.

    What’s more, with Lyon having already been knocked out by lowly Épinal, an OM win would see them favourites to go on and lift the trophy, which, should they be able to secure a Champions League place at least, would mean a pretty decent return for the season.

OM V Bordeaux: Ligue 1, April 6th

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    OM’s aspirations might well see them looking higher up the table and targeting a top three finish, but they would do well to keep an eye out for those teams behind them, lying in wait to pick up on any slip-ups.

    Bordeaux might just be the side best-placed to do that, especially given their current form.

    They’ve won three out of their last four games, and although they’ve drawn a fair few, their defeat to Paris on the 20th January was the first time they’d lost since the 14th game back in November and an away defeat to Montpellier.

    A lot can change between now and the start of April, but it’s pretty much assured that this will be a huge game for OM, either in terms of them challenging for the league or trying to hold on to a Champions League spot.

Saint Etienne V OM: Ligue 1, 18th May

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    May seems a long way away just now, but seasons pass quicker than they seem, and it won’t be too long before we find ourselves at the tail end of this one.

    Whether they’re still in contention for the league title or if by this stage they’ve had to turn their attentions to staving off contenders for Champions League qualification, the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard or Le Chaudron (The Cauldron) isn’t a place OM will be looking to go.

    OM haven’t won away in Saint-Etienne in the league since a 3-0 win in April 2009, but might well need to buck this trend if they’re to get where they want to be this season.

    As if it needed complicating any further, Saint Etienne are currently only five points behind OM, and could be one of the teams vying with them for third place.

Lyon V OM: Ligue 1, March 9th

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    In many ways similar to OM, Lyon are another side of whom little was expected going into this season.

    Financial restraints have forced them to cut back in both their salary and their transfer budget, meaning that for replacing key players, they’ve had to turn to their youths instead of going out and spending big in the transfer market.

    Fortunately for them, these youths have come good, and with the guidance of a few older hands like Steed Malbranque and Rémy Vercoutre and the goals of Bafétimbi Gomis, they find themselves in second place.

    OM and Lyon are the only sides who have a chance of competing with Paris for the title, but realistically only one of them will be able to take it right down to the wire, if either of them can.

    Just under a month away, this game will be an absolute must-win for both sides, with a defeat almost certain to spell the end for their championship credentials.

PSG V OM: Ligue 1, February 24th

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    Fittingly, OM’s most important remaining fixture this season is their trip to the Parc des Princes in a couple of weeks’ time to take on the league leaders.

    Six points separate the sides at the moment, and should OM win their two matches scheduled in the meantime—away to Evian TG and at home to slumping Valenciennes—the gap will be no larger by the time they square off.

    If OM can then go and win in Paris they’ll reduce the gap to just three points, and with PSG still having the Champions League to contend with, it’s foreseeable that they might come off the boil and drop even more points to allow OM to get even closer.

    Should Paris win however, the gap will extend to nine points, and even though PSG still have tricky fixtures away to both Saint Etienne and Lyon, it’s hard to see them letting that sort of lead slip.

    It’s a game which OM will just have to win.