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Olympique Marseille vs Internazionale Preview

February 21 2012 By Gregory Sica
An under-fire Inter Milan will have no choice but to claim a positive result when they travel to the Stade Velodrome to take on hosts Marseille in the Champions League round of 16 stage on Wednesday.

Team News

Didier Deschamp's Marseille will face a number of injury setbacks for the crucial clash, as France international Loic Remy will be unavailable after suffering a hamstring injury. Stephane Mbia will also miss out as he has yet to reach full-fitness after an injury layoff, while defensive midfielder Alou Diarra is in doubt for the game after receiving a knock against Valenciennes on the weekend.

Meanwhile, under-fire Inter boss Claudio Ranieri will finally be able to count with what appears to be a full-strength side. Argentine defender Walter Samuel will slot back into the middle of defense, after recovering from a thigh strain, while Diego Milito and Dejan Stankovic have overcome the flu and will rate their chances of starting the game. But Ricardo Alvarez and Freddy Guarin will sit out the game due to injury.

Inter will be boosted by Diego Forlan, Angelo Palombo and Andrea Poli, who will make their European debuts after having been added to their Champions League squad.

In a recent interview, Ranieri hinted out that out of form playmaker Wesley Sneijder could lose his place in the starting eleven, but despite this the Dutch international was included in the 22-man delegation which travelled to France. 

Form

Despite having been held to a 1-1 draw by Valenciennes at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday, Marseille have won 12 out of their last 15 games coming into the clash with Inter. They currently lie in fourth position of the French Ligue 1, twelve points behind league leaders Paris Saint-Germain. 

Marseille advanced to the Round of 16 stage of the Champions League after having finished in second place of Group F with 10 points, following three wins, one draw and two losses, one point behind group winners Arsenal.

The Nerazzurri arrive in France in devastating form, after having lost five of their last six matches in all competitions, including their shock 3-0 defeat to Bologna at the San Siro stadium on Friday. Ranieri's men have failed to score a single goal during this negative spell, since Milito fired home four goals in the 4-4 draw with Palermo on February 1.

Inter reached this instance of the competition, after having topped Group B with 10 points, which accounted for three wins, one draw and two defeats.

Players to Watch

Julio Cesar - The Brazilian goalkeeper has been unable to prevent Inter from losing a number of matches in the last few weeks, and he could possibly be the side's busiest player on Wednesday. If he is at his best, and is obviously helped by his defence, he is more than capable of keeping a clean sheet.

Brandao - Since returning to Marseille after a loan spell in his native Brazil, the striker has been a valuable asset for the French outfit. He continues to possess a threat in opposing areas and will likely cause the Inter defense a number of problems. In the absence of Remy, Brandao will be called upon for Marseille's attacking firepower.

Prediction

Fans can expect an interesting tie between two sides which have failed to impress on the domestic front this season, but have everything to play for in Europe's maximum club competition. While Marseille come into the clash as the slight favourites, due in much part to Inter's terrible run of form, the 2010 Champions League winners will rate their chances of returning to Italy with a positive result.

The Verdict:

Marseille 1-1 Inter



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