Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Prediction: Marseille vs Athletic Club

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: William Hill

French giants Marseille and Spanish side Athletic Bilbao have enjoyed plenty of success in European competitions in the past and they are both keen on mounting a serious title challenge in this year’s Europa League. Even though neither side are in good form at the moment, we definitely expect an exciting encounter at the iconic Stade Velodrome.

Marseille

The ambitious new project has started to produce results at Marseille as Rudi Garcia and his side have done really well this term. For the first time after quite a while, l’OM are in a position to secure Champions League qualification through league finish, sitting five points clear of fourth-placed Lyon with ten games to go. Marseille did fail to win any of their last four fixtures on all fronts, but they hope the Europa League game against Athletic will prove the turning point.

L’OM were beaten twice in a row by Paris Saint-Germain, losing 3-0 in the league and Coupe de France, while they narrowly avoided fourth straight defeat in all competitions, as the impressive Florian Thauvin scored deep into injury time to secure a 1-1 draw with Nantes. It is clear that Rudi Garcia’s charges will have to do a lot better if they want to defeat Athletic on Thursday evening, but there are unlikely to be too many changes to the starting line-up.

Team News

Kostas Mitroglou and Gregory Sertic remain sidelined, but first choice goalkeeper Steve Mandanda has returned into action.

Athletic Club

Athletic Club have been regular in Europa League knockout stages and they even managed to reach the final back in 2012, losing to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid in the final. To be fair, los Leones have struggled since Ernesto Valverde left the club to take over the reigns at Barcelona, and they find themselves on the brink of the dangerous zone at the moment. Sitting 12 points clear of the bottom three, Athletic should be able to survive the current campaign, meaning they can now fully focus on their Europa League exploits.

Los Leones did well to record a 4-3 aggregate win over Russian champions Spartak Moscow in the previous stage, albeit losing the return leg at home. Athletic have since recorded a win, draw and defeat in next three league fixtures, but it has to be noted they have yet to lose an away fixture in this year’s competition. Los Leones have so far defeated Panathinaikos, Zorya and Spartak Moscow on the road, while sharing spoils with Dinamo Bucuresti, Hertha and Ostersunds.

Team News

The visitors welcome back Mikel Balenziaga after an 11-week injury lay-off, but Inigo Martinez is cup-tied, while Iker Muniain and Mikel Rico are out injured.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Athletic recorded 1-0 triumph on their previous visit to Stade Velodrome
  • Marseille won five of last six home games in EL
  • L’OM unbeaten in last 16 games on home soil (W12 D4)
  • Athletic unbeaten on the road in this year’s EL (W3 D3)
  • Marseille narrowly escaped fourth successive defeat

Conclusion

With both sides struggling for form at the moment and eager to continue their respective Europa League campaigns, we expect to see a tight game at Stade Velodrome with chances few and far between.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: William Hill

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