Marseille’s reward for advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1993 is a meeting with German powerhouse Bayern Munich. Les Phoceens needed a late goal to sink Inter Milan in the knockout stage. Bayern Munich steamrolled Basel, putting 7 in the back of the net in the second leg of their tie.
Marseille could be without one of their key cogs to the engine. Forward Loic Remy has missed training the last couple of days to an injury. The French striker leads the club with 16 goals in all competitions. Even if he’s only scored twice in the Champions League, Remy’s pace and ability will be lacking, if not fully fit. Andre Ayew will be called upon if Remy can’t go. The Ghana International does lead Marseille with 3 goals in Europe and is an effective striker. Andre’s brother, Jordan could see the pitch if Remy is unavailable. Whether Jordan can handle the pressure of a tense European match remains to be seen. Don’t be surprised if Brazilian Brandao comes on at some point. The super sub scored the clinching goal against Inter that saw Marseille through to the quarterfinals.
The midfield is paced by Lucho Gonzalez. The Argentine International is the talisman of the Marseille side who brings flair and creativity in the centre of the pitch. Alou Diarra only played 18 minutes over the weekend but should be in the starting eleven for Didier Deschamps’ side. Benoit Cheyrou and Morgan Amalfitano should round out the starting midfield although Mathieu Valbuena is expected to see action as well.
The back four will be wanting, with the absence of Souleymane Diawara. The Senegal International ruptured a ligament in his knee and is out for an indefinite period. Expect Jeremy Morel to slide back into a defensive role. Cesar Azpilicueta, Nicolas N’Koulou and Rod Fanni are likely to start at the back for Marseille.
Keeper Steve Mandana is suspended for the first leg so Elinton Andrade has been tapped to patrol the backline for Marseille. This will be the Brazilian’s first game since January of 2010 so rust is a concern.
Bayern Munich have won their last 4 matches, outscoring their opponents 22-2 in the process. Die Roten are building momentum and desperately want to reach the final, which will be played in their home stadium.
Striker Mario Gomez leads the club with 34 goals in all competitions, and his second behind Lionel Messi of Barcelona in scoring in the Champions League with 11. Gomez found the net 4 times against Basel and is brutally efficient around the goal. Thomas Muller is more of a playmaker up front but is a goalscoring threat as well. If Marseille pays too much attention to Gomez, it could leave space for Muller to find the back of the net.
The midfield is exceptional and with Bastion Schweinsteiger fully fit, it could be a menacing force for Bayern. The German talisman should be ranked in the top 10 best players in the world with his strength and unshakeable calm against all opponents. Arjen Robben brings speed and class to the wing. His flowing runs down the flank are a wonder to watch, but a nightmare to defend. Franck Ribery will be motivated to play against his old side and the Frenchman will be at his best in his return home. Toni Kroos is another midfielder who can jump in on the attack at a moment’s notice. The German has scored twice in Europe and is very sneaky with his delivery.
The back four is captained by Philipp Lahm. A steadying influence, the German is widely considered one of the best defenders in the world, thanks to his versatility in playing either side of the pitch. Jerome Boateng is an imposing figure in the back. Rafinha is a classic Brazilian wing back who can jump up on the counter when he sees fit. Holger Badstuber is a rising star at left back.
Manuel Neuer is an excellent keeper who relies on his length and intelligence to make key saves at crucial times.
Prediction: Marseille were fortunate to make it to the quarterfinals but without Diawara in the back, their defence will be bereft and led astray. Bayern are healthy and are very serious about making a run to the finals. Bayern will be shown through to the semifinals.
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