Can Marseille spring another surprise against a resurgent Bayern?
The conquerors of Inter Milan, Marseille, take on the record setter of the previous round, FC Bayern München.
Bayern recorded the largest home win in the history of the knockout round of the Champions League against Basel in the Round of 16. They knocked in seven goals past the helpless Swiss giants who had in-fact come into the match with a lead from the first leg. Bayern has won four out of their last five matches. They drew the other game against Borussia Mönchengladbach but progressed on penalties to the final of the German Cup.
Marseille meanwhile put paid to a team that Bayern knows all too well following the previous two editions of the competition, Inter. Marseille is having their best ever run in the competition since they last won the Champions League in 1993. Their league form however at the moment is abysmal; they sit ninth in France.
Marseille progressed from a tough group to reach the Round of 16. They were paired with Arsenal, Olympiakos and German champions Borussia Dortmund. Marseille has been defensively rock solid this season. Their problems have all come in front of goal. Yet they scored three against Dortmund in France as well as in Germany.
Rarely is a Champions League tie executed perfectly. The word ‘perfect’ usually implies a 1-0 victory at home and a score draw or a loss by a score of 2-1 in the second. Marseille scored a late goal in the first goal to lead by 1-0. In the second leg, after Diego Milito scored, substitute Brandao came up with an equalizer in stoppage time to ensure that Giampaolo Pazzini’s penalty meant nothing to the final outcome of the tie.
Marseille has not won a match in Ligue 1 since the 29th of January when they beat Rennes 1-2. In the eight games since, Marseille has collected just three points. They drew with Nice 1-1 this weekend. To make matters worse for Marseille both captain Steve Mandanda and centre back Souleymane Diawara. Recent reports suggest that Loic Remy might not recover in time for the match from his hamstring injury.
Yet, Didier Deschamps does not feel that beating Bayern would be a miracle. Marseille certainly does not fear Bayern; they shouldn’t fear a team that went through an awful patch in away games until they completely destroyed Hertha Berlin just over a week ago. Bayern beat Hanover in the weekend; the football was stylish as ever but the defence looked tired and made some errors.
Deschamps had this to say about the match:
“We are not favourites, but we will play to win. Winning against Bayern would not be a miracle, but we need to give two great performances; home and away.”
Luiz Gustavo does not believe that Bayern is the favourite as far as this tie is concerned. This is what he had to say:
“Sure, we want to win. But we are not favourites. In such a late stage of the tournament, there are no more favourites. Every team has a lot of quality and each team wants to get ahead.”
For Bayern, Daniel Van Buyten will be on the sidelines. Bastian Schweinsteiger might make the squad but will not start. Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez were both rested during the weekend but will surely start in this match.
The French FA allowed Marseille to cancel their league match for next weekend which means that Marseille will have a full week of rest between the two legs. In 2010, Lyon had been given a similar advantage while the DFB had cancelled Bayern’s request to do the same.
Franck Ribery as you all know moved to Bayern from Marseille in 2007. He feels the match will be tough. Who do you think will win the match? Let me hear your thoughts.