5 Points to Consider Before Olympique De Marseille Take on PSG
As far as OM are concerned, any hope of winning the league has long since passed. For weeks now each game has been billed as make or break, but their inability to find the breakthrough in relatively straightforward situations has left them way behind the frontrunners for the league. If it was indeed make or break, consider it broken.
On the other hand, PSG and their millions have up until now met their expectations, sitting top of the table with 30 points, if albeit, separated only by goal difference from Montpellier and looking on course to make the title theirs in the first season with the new Qatari backers.
However, received wisdom has it that in the derby form and stats go out of the window. As soon as the game itself kicks off, you can forget everything else knowing that what counts is what happens in the 90 minutes—but we know of course it's not as simple as that.
Here are a few observations which will have an impact on how the game turns out.
Will PSG Look to Dominate Possession?
So far this season, PSG have been able largely to have the monopoly on possession in the games they've played, not just in front of their own supporters at the Parc des Princes where they average 57 percent of ball possession, but away from home as well where they average 51 percent.
What remains to be seen however, is whether or not PSG will look to keep playing this system which relies on ball retention for prolonged periods of time, or whether they will instead be happy to drop deeper and concede possession. This would then give them the opportunity to counter attack against an OM side who have looked increasingly susceptible to a quick break over the course of the season, and with the speed of the likes of Gameiro, Nene and Menez, PSG know they have the players to play this style of game.
OM Need to Turn Chances into Goals
After 14 matches played, OM leads the league in the number of shots taken with an impressive total of 234. What's less impressive however, is that from these 234 efforts on goal, only 92 of them were on target—39.3 percent—and that they've only managed to score 17 times, including nine at the Stade Vélodrome.
If they are going to take anything from this match, OM will need to be far more clinical in front of goal and perhaps consider working the chance, instead of just shooting as soon as the opportunity arises.
Can OM Break PSG Down?
They're top and although a lot of that is down to their ability to score, it's unsurprising that PSG also sit atop the defensive table, having conceded only 12 goals, which is fewer than any other team in the league apart from Toulouse.
It follows then that if OM are to manage to find the net, they'll need to show more creativity and more ingenuity than we've seen from them up until now this season, and to find a way of creating chances and space for Loic Rémy, who has proven himself capable of putting the ball away when given the opportunity.
Can OM Make the Set Pieces Count?
One bright spot for OM this season has been their ability to score from dead ball situations, where Mathieu Valbuena in particular has been instrumental.
Of the seven assists he's made this season in Ligue 1, six of those have been from set-pieces, and with their lack of a cutting in edge in open play, OM will know that free kicks and corners might well represent their best chance of scoring on Sunday night.
Mandanda Will Be Key
Going into the game, Marseille find themselves in the unusual position of being underdogs for a match at the Stade Vélodrome against PSG—it doesn't usually work like that.
But if they want to prove the doubters wrong, it's likely that they'll need a big performance from their star player and one of the team's only genuinely consistent performers this season, goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Despite a relatively unimpressive start to the season, Mandanda has excelled in the big games and although OM have often come out on the losing end, it is despite the best efforts of their keeper to keep them in the contest. If he can pull another performance out of the bag, OM might well have a chance of giving their rivals a surprise.