Montpellier 3.60, Draw 3.30, Marseille 2.10 - Friday 19:30 GMT
The surprise leaders of Ligue 1 halfway through the season are under pressure after their disappointing exit of the French Cup last weekend. Marseille led three times away at 4th division Grenoble and ended up losing on penalties. Marcelo Bielsa was not happy at all about the performance of his team which once again faded physically despite being in the lead. It was a big blow to lose that way against a much smaller team but at least they will only have to focus on the league now.
On Friday evening, Marseille are getting ready for a different kind of battle away at Montpellier. First the pitch is in horrendous condition as the hosts have to play in the Montpellier rugby stadium while their own stadium is being refurbished. Montpellier lost against PSG on it on Monday evening (3-0) in the French Cup and l’OM will find it very difficult to play their football on it. Secondly, the league leaders are without some key players ahead of this game as André Ayew and Nicolas Nkoulou have left for the African Cup of Nations. They are two very important members of the starting line up, leaders of the dressing room as well. Marseille will miss them badly while they are away. Alessandrini is also out injured and Barrada is a big doubt which means that Bielsa will have to use Gignac or Batshuayi out of position on the right hand side.
It is not ideal before facing Montpellier who beat them in Week 2 at the Stade Velodrome this season. But the visitors have a good record there: they won three and lost once in their last four trips to Montpellier. they will be very motivated as well to show that the Grenoble loss was simply an accident and will put pressure on Lyon and PSG who play on Sunday and on Saturday.
For Montpellier, facing PSG and Marseille back to back, even both at home, is far from ideal to start the New Year. They were beaten comprehensively by Paris and their manager Rolland Courbis expect a big reaction from the team on Friday. Montpellier are having a very inconsistent season, with as many wins and defeats so far and a 10th place in the table. They are capable of good things like winning at Marseille or drawing at PSG earlier this season but they also dropped points against small teams. But they are quite strong at home where they have only conceded four goals in nine games so far. They know the bad pitch will advantage them as they will play on the counter. I think they will frustrate Marseille and get a point.
André-Pierre Gignac is favourite to score first at 3.75 and my best tip is a draw at half time and a draw at full time at 4.75.
Score prediction: Montpellier 0 Marseille 0 at 9.50