The winter break is over and all teams in Ligue 1 will return to the pitch for their first match of 2020. There will be a big match this weekend between the current runner-up on the table, Olympique Marseille and the team just below them, Rennes. Both will be squaring off in Roazhon Park, Rennes. For the host, a victory will bring them closer to their contender with only two points difference, while for Marseille, three points mean that they could extend their current five point-lead to eight points from the host. It is bound to be an exciting match.
Rennes has just advanced to the next round of Coupe De France after beating Amiens, which thumped them 3-2 in Coupe De La Ligue last December, by penalty shootout. They won 5-4 after being held in a goalless draw. It was a perfect revenge against Amiens this season as well as the good way to start their campaign in domestic competitions in 2020.
Steve Mandanda and Co also managed to qualify to the next round last weekend but rather unconvincingly. Marseille had to go through a penalty shootout to defeat Trelissac, the team in Championnat de France Amateur or a semi pro league. They failed to win in a normal as both played for 1-1 tie. This result of course worries Andre Villas-Boas for there will be more challenges to come and losing points is not an option.
Missing players and probable lineups:
Julian Stephan is often in favour of 4-4-1-1 with the transition of 4-4-2. He relies on the former AC Milan striker, M’baye Niang as the main scorer. He has netted nine goals in Ligue 1 and Europa League. He should be able to play their best line-up as only two players will miss this game, Jakob Johannsson and Jonas Martin. They both have been sidelined for a while due to their serious cruciate ligament injury and thigh problems.
Rennes: Eduard Mendy; Jeremy Morel, Damien Da Silva, Hamari Traoure, Souleyman Doumbia; James Lea Siliki, Benjamin Bourigeaud, Raphinha, Eduard Camavinga; M’baye Niang, Andrian Hunou.
Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas often deploys 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 this season. The former Tottenham, Chelsea and FC Porto boss counts on Dario Benedetto as the main frontman. He is supported by Dmitri Payet and Nemanja Radonjic. The only name on their injury table is Florian Thauvin. He suffered an arthroscopy injury.
Marseille: Steve Mandanda; Hiroki Sakai, Alvaro Gonzalez, Jordan Amavi, Duje Caleta Sar; Kevin Strootmann, Boubacar Kamara, Morgan Sanson; Nemanja Radonjic, Dmitri Payet, Dario Benedetto.
Both teams seem to be equal in their head-to-head meetings. Each of them won twice in their last eight encounters. Rennes and Marseille have been undefeated in their last five games in Ligue 1.
Considering their head-to-head records and their positive trends lately, it is expected to be an even match. Thus, the draw result is the best one for them, despite the fact that Rennes will be playing at their home turf.
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