Metz - Marseille - Friday 19.30 GMT
Marseille are in crisis before their away game at Metz on Friday evening.
Their defeat last weekend at home to Lorient (5-3) was embarrassing to say the least. It is the fourth consecutive loss in the league for Marcelo Bielsa and his players. It was a dreadful performance, especially defensively and the Argentine manager has been heavily criticised for his tactical plans. L’OM are now only 5th in the table, after being top at Christmas after a wonderful first half of the season. Monaco are five points clear of them in third and St Etienne are three points clear in fourth.
Financially, it would be a disaster for Marseille not to qualify for the Champions League next season. The club made big investment last summer in terms of signing players and the club cannot afford to miss out on the Champions League money. So the pressure is on for the players. They need to get back to winning ways and try to snatch that third place.
If in terms of results, Marseille are in crisis, they are not in terms of atmosphere. It was a good week of work during training and the fans, surprisingly, are not showing any signs of frustration. They are still behind the team and especially behind the manager. Bielsa is loved by the fans, the club and the players. They all want to sort things out and get a win on Friday at Metz.
First, they will have to defend better. Conceding five goals against Lorient at home was unacceptable and 10 goals were scored against them in their last four games only. Djadjedje is out on Friday so Lemina will probably play at right back. Offensively, they will need to be more clinical. They had 12 clear chances against Lorient for only three goals.
Bielsa has everybody available up front bar Florian Thauvin. He will have to choose between Batshuayi or Gignac at number 9, with Alessandrini on the right hand side. Ocampos is doing well in training too.
For Metz, it is the last chance in their fight against relegation. They need a win on Friday or they will go down. They are eight points behind Reims, the first team out of the relegation zone. They would need a miracle to stay up with only four games to go and they need the three points against l’OM.
They were beaten on Tuesday in Paris (3-1) but didn’t play too badly at all. Despite the loss, the game has given them a bit of confidence before facing Marseille. The stadium will be full and the atmosphere great. The players and the manager Albert Cartier still believe they can do it starting by beating Marseille tomorrow. However, I think Marseille will finally wake up and will be too strong for Metz.
The odds are massively in favour of Marseille with an away win at 1.85. A draw is at 3.60 and a Metz home win is at 4.10.
André-Pierre Gignac is favourite to score first at 4.90. My best tip is Marseille to win with both teams scoring at 3.70.
Score prediction: Metz 1 Marseille 3 at 12.50