Marseille face Caen on Friday night and anything but a win could end their realistic hunt for this season's Ligue 1 title.
The good ship Olympique de Marseille threatens to submerge itself in water and sink without a trace this season. All is not well down on the French Riviera. What was a healthy looking title challenge looks to be slipping away and there doesn't seem to be much Marcelo Bielsa can do to stop it.
Marseille host Caen on Friday night and the best news for OM and Bielsa is that the game will be played at the Stade Velodrome. Marseille may only be four points behind Lyon in the table, but their away form has all but derailed their hopes of lifting the Ligue 1 crown. They have not won on the road since the end of October, that was against Friday's opponents and took a 91st minute goal from Andre-Pierre Gignac to save Bielsa from dropping crucial points.
After the goal, the striker ran up to Bielsa and tried to give the Argentine coach a hug, the wily veteran resisted, but spirits were high around the club. Such a contrast to the reports regarding their current relationship.
After scoring 10 goals in 10 games, Gignac has only found the net four times in the last 16 league games and the final straw came last Sunday.
Gignac looks disinterested and his face was akin to someone whose lottery numbers had come up without buying a ticket. His replacement, Michy Batshuayi came on and scored twice, saving a point for Marseille, and he is set to start against Caen on Friday.
L'Equipe has reported today that Gignac was banished from the first-team video session and ordered to train with the reserves, he refused and went home. All is not well at OM, but as long as Batshuayi continues to find the back of the net, Bielsa won't be looking to kiss and make up.
Caen are a much tougher prospect this time round having won five of their last six games and climbing away from the relegation zone. They play on the break and will look to exploit Marseille’s weakness down the channels. It could make for an excellent game.
Marseille need to win to keep pace at the top of the table; Caen will be one team they wouldn’t want to face at this stage. Bielsa will need to hope his replacement striker continues his form from last week, or Gignac’s bad mood could get worse before it gets better.
Marseille: 4-2-3-1 – Mandanda; Dja Djédjé, Fanni, Morel, Mendy; Imbula, Ayew; Ocampos, Payet, Thauvin; Batshuayi
Caen: 4-1-4-1 – Vercoutre; Appiah, Saad, Yahia, Imorou; Seube; Nangis, Feret, Kante, Bazile; Sala