Friday night’s Ligue 1 match-up sees the best attack in the division take on the best defence and it will be a huge test for Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal target Papy Djilobodji. The 26-year-old Senegalese centre-back has been in wonderful form this season, Nantes has only conceded nine goals in 14 games, but Marseille will be the toughest test Les Canaris backline has had to face this season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s OM side has scored 16 of their 30 goals at home, and are currently on a six-game winning streak at the Stade Vélodrome. The latest victory showed strength and desire, coming back from a goal down to beat Bordeaux 3-1.
Nantes task doesn’t get any easier this week, as Bielsa welcomes back three first-team player to his starting eleven in Nicolas N’Koulou, Alaixys Romao and Romain Alessandrini.
Andre-Pierre Gignac will be the biggest threat to the Nantes back line; the France international has scored 11 goals in 14 games this season, which has also sparked rumours of a transfer to Spurs this winter, with the striker’s contract up in the summer.
With Premier League scouts watching the progress of Gignac and Florian Thauvin this season, this is a huge chance for the likes of Djilobodji and midfielder Jordan Veretout to prove that they are every part as good as their high-profile opponents.
Both sides should line up 4-2-3-1, with Nantes’ playing a more traditional style, rather than Bielsa’s free-flowing expansive system. Nantes best chance of success of Friday is to play down the wings with the speed and skill of young Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and Serge Gakpé.
The midfield trio of Lucas Deaux, Kian Hansen and Veretout will have their hands full trying to close down the OM midfield, but there should be space for the wingers to get in behind, this is the one weakness that OM have shown on multiple occasions this season.
It is set up to be a very interesting battle. Gignac vs Djilobodji could be the battle that decides the income and could see one of them move to England this January.