Marseille 1.80, draw 3.50, St-Etienne 4.50 - Sunday 20.00 GMT
This is the big clash of the weekend in Ligue 1. The rivalry between two of the biggest clubs in French football goes back to the 1970s with a peak in the 80s. But it is still very much alive now.
It is even bigger this Sunday because of the positions of both teams in the table: Marseille are leaders and St Etienne 3rd, just two points behind. Let’s start with l’OM. No team in Ligue 1 has more momentum and confidence than Marcelo Bielsa’s men. They have won their last five league matches with a goal difference of +15! They destroyed Reims in midweek (5-0) away and their striker, André-Pierre Gignac has now scored eight goals in the first seven league games of the season! They are on fire and they don’t want to stop on Sunday.
On top of their current form, they have an amazing record at home against St Etienne as their last defeat against them dates back to August 1979! The players have finally understood Bielsa’s methods and the team looks stronger defensively, more balanced and so powerful offensively. However, this is their first big test of the season. So far, they have only played teams in the second half of the table, apart from Montpellier (9th). The manager has all his players available and the fact that l’OM don’t play in Europe this season means that fitness wise, they will at their best too.
It will surely not be the case for St Etienne. Les Verts have qualified for the Europa League group stages which means they have already played four games in twelve days. Christophe Galtier, their manager, formerly of Marseille, rotated his team on Thursday against Bordeaux (1-1) but the team looked tired towards the end of the game and it will be difficult for the players in the starting eleven on Sunday to be at their best physically once again.
Nevertheless, they are a very strong unit defensively and they will make life difficult for Marseille. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel also scored his first goal since joining the club in the summer from Norwich so his confidence will be high.
However, I think that the hosts are too hot to handle at the moment and that they will beat St Etienne on Sunday, but it will be an intense and aggressive encounter.
André-Pierre Gignac is favourite to score first at 3.80. My best tip is a red card to be given at 4.00.
Score prediction: Marseille 2 St Etienne 0 at 8.50
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