SPAIN: LA LIGA
SEVILLA - BETIS
FRANCE: LIGUE 1
BORDEAUX- OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE
Following PSG's failure to beat nine man Rennes last night, the winner of this could go top today, the visitors could do so with a point and I think they would be happy with that, having a dire record in this fixture and being very hard hit with injuries . Hosts are unbeaten at the Chaban-Delmas stadium (2-3-0), but need to start turning some of those draws into wins if they are to mount a serious title challenge, they are 8-5-1 at home and 16-11-4 overall in 2012 where they have been as strong as anyone in the last twelve months, including PSG, infact, the pair will have an identical 17-11-4 record if Bordeaux take maximum points today and I am taking them to do so.
OM started the season on fire, winning their first six starts, just one in five since then, it is the goals against column which is suddenly giving huge cause for concern, they have kept just one cleansheet in nine, conceding two or more in six over that sequence and have developed a nasty habit of conceding late equalisers recently. Today, they will be without their three main strikers in Andre-Pierre Gignac (9-5-0), Loic Remy (8-0-00 and Jordan Ayew (11-3-1). They have named Florian Raspentino ( 23 yo just 27 minutes of L1 action this season), Billel Omrani( 19 yo, with 3 minutes of one Europa League game to his name) and Fabrice Apruzesse ( 27yo but only played for the B team) as their three attackers, they do have the option to push Andre Ayew up front, but this is far from ideal, with Joey Barton still out.
Hosts have no real problems and boast a tremendous record in this fixture, having not lost at home to OM for over three decades, that run should continue and if Lyon do not win the early game, three points should see Bordeaux top of the pile, which will get the locals very excited. Bordeaux -0.5 ball.
Bordeaux: Carrasso, Keita, Chalmé, Henrique, Mariano, Planus, Sané, Trémoulinas, Ben Khalfallah, Jussiê, Nguemo, Obraniak, Plasil, Saivet, Bellion, Diabaté, Gouffran, Maurice-Belay.
Marseille :Mandanda, Sy, Fanni, Abdallah, Nkoulou, Diawara, Mendes, Morel, Mbow, Kaboré, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A.Ayew, Raspentino, Omrani, Apruzesse
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS:
DC UNITED - HOUSTON DYNAMO (1-3) written Friday 16/11
United look to have more of a chance, as they "only" trail by two goals ( remember, no away goal rule in this competition), but as we discussed previously, Houston are the archetypal playoff team, have a tactically astute coach who thrives in the post season and appear to have United's "number" having dominated the series in Texas and scoring freely here in the capital, with two or more goals in four of their last five visits. Much of this was covered ahead of the first leg, when we were firmly in the Houston camp and my notes for that game are reproduced at the foot of this email. Highlights of the first match can be viewed here LINK, United were unlucky and the hosts should have been a man down just before the break, but the referee did not see, what every other person in the stadium saw and Houston dodged a bullet.
Dynamo went to Sporting Kansas City in the last round holding a two goal lead and looked to sit on that lead, they lost that 1-0 and whilst it was job done, they have done a lot of soul searching about how they approached the return leg and midfielder Brad Davis said “hopefully, we learned a little bit of a lesson to try and we will not sit back so much." United are strong at home (12-4-1), where they have scored 37 goals during the regular season, second only to the San Jose Earthquakes, they also had a +20 goal difference at RFK Stadium. They will have no choice but to throw everything at Dynamo and that is going to create space for Houston to exploit on the break.
Hosts have doubts about striker Chris Pontius (31-12-4), Brandon McDonald centreback (33-2-3) and midfielder Marcelo Saragosa (16-1-1), who played 12, 56 and 40 minutes respectively in the first leg, after all left the field injured, also throw star player Dwayne De Rosario (26-7-9 see first leg preview below) into the mix, he did not feature even on the bench, but will surely play some part in the return and you will see that coach Ben Olsen has some huge decisions to make. Keeper Bill Hamid (24-0-0) returns, right winger Andy Najar ( 25-0-4) remains out with a suspension. Nothing to lose now, they have to go for broke and gamble, whatever decisions Olsen makes are going to be at the expense of their defence, at least in terms of protection and I can see this getting very stretched.
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