Olympique Marseille are on their
knees and will have two key players missing when they host
formidable Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final
first leg on Wednesday but hope springs eternal.
While OM have lost seven of their last eight games in all
competitions, Bayern have scored 22 goals in their last five
games and head to Provence beaming with confidence.
Marseille, who put an end to their losing streak with a 1-1
draw at Nice in Ligue 1 on Saturday, will be without goalkeeper
Steve Mandanda and centre-back Souleymane Diawara through
Senegal's Diawara will also miss the rest of the season
after he sustained a serious knee injury at Nice.
Mandanda will be replaced by Gennaro Bracigliano, whose
blunder handed third division Quevilly a 3-2 extra-time win in a
French Cup quarter-final last week.
The former Nancy keeper believes his team can still cause an
upset against the Germans.
"Hope does not care about logic," said Bracigliano.
Marseille can draw comfort from beating Bundesliga leaders
Borussia Dortmund twice in the Champions League group phase this
Saturday's draw at Nice was also hard-fought as they
snatched a point despite playing the second half with 10 men
following Charles Kabore's dismissal on the stroke of half-time.
"The bleeding has not stopped yet but at least we have put a
bandage on it," coach Didier Deschamps told reporters.
Deschamps may also be able to count on Loic Remy, who missed
Saturday's game with a thigh problem but could partner Mathieu
Valbuena at the Stade Velodrome after his France team mate
returned from an injury layoff against Nice.
Marseille fans wishing to be upbeat ahead of their first
appearance in the last eight since winning the competition in
1993 will wince when looking at Bayern's recent displays.
The four-times European Cup winners tightened their grip on
second spot in the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win over Hanover 96 on
"We are thinking straight and are very confident," former
Marseille midfielder Franck Ribery said. "We will prepare very
well for this game to get the good result we want."
Coach Jupp Heynckes rested Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez
and Thomas Muller for much of the game against Hannover but the
former was again on target, coming on after an hour for his 23rd
league goal of the season.
Bayern, also in the German Cup final, have been in
devastating form recently as they rip defences to shreds down
the wings while impressive 19-year-old Austrian David Alaba has
won a starting spot.
"We only have finals now going into the last stretch of the
season," said Gomez, whose team are chasing a treble of titles
with the Champions League final to be held in Munich in May.
"These knockout games are very attractive."
Heynckes may again be without midfielder Bastian
Schweinsteiger after he missed Saturday with an ankle injury.
Schweinsteiger's presence could be key as his absence for
several months this season through a broken collarbone and a
ligament tear has affected their performance and seen Bayern
drop behind Dortmund in the title race.
"We are taking this game very seriously," said Heynckes, who
rested his players on Monday. "Marseille beat Dortmund twice and
knocked Inter Milan out of the competition."
Olympique Marseille: 1-Gennaro Bracigliano; 2-Cesar
Azpilicueta, 3-Nicolas Nkoulou, 17-Stephane Mbia, 15-Jeremy
Morel; 7-Benoit Cheyrou, 4-Alou Diarra, 18-Morgan Amalfitano,
28-Mathieu Valbuena; 20-Andre Ayew, 11-Loic Remy.
Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 21-Philipp Lahm, 17-Jerome
Boateng, 28-Holger Badstuber, 27-David Alaba; 10-Arjen Robben,
30-Luiz Gustavo, 39-Toni Kroos, 25-Thomas Muller, 7-Franck
Ribery; 33-Mario Gomez.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain).
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