Marseille travels to the Stade Auguste Delaune on Sunday evening to face 8th-place Reims, in a tie which will see two of the most in-form teams battle it out for three points.
The visitors have won three of their last four games against Reims, including a 4-1 victory earlier on in the season. However, with Will Still as head coach, Reims fans will be confident that they can claim all three points against Marseille for the first time since 2019.
Stade de Reims
As recently as six months ago, nobody outside of France would have really heard of Stade de Reims before, yet they are now one of the most talked about clubs in Europe. In October, Reims boss Oscar Garcia was sacked and replaced by his assistant, Will Still. The 30-year-old head coach is the youngest manager across Europe’s top five leagues and has led his side to a 19-game unbeaten streak in Ligue 1. For each game that he manages Reims, the club is fined €25,000 due to Still not having a UEFA Pro Licence.
Reims are the second most in-form side in Ligue 1 over the last five games, and last time out they defeated consistent European outfit Monaco, 1-0, in their opponent's backyard. This result was Reims’ sixth clean sheet in a row, making it their 12th of the season which is the most in League 1. Although Reims only beat Monaco by one goal, they had plenty of opportunities to extend their lead further. Folarin Balogun has been on fire this season and the Arsenal loanee opened the scoring just after the break, registering his 16th goal of the season. Only Jonathan David and Kylian Mbappe have scored more this campaign than the 21-year-old Englishman, and he will be disappointed to not have scored a hattrick after missing two big chances.
At home this season, Reims have kept a clean sheet in 46% of their games and Will Still’s side also averages 1.69 goals per home game, clearly showing that they have been able to strike the right balance between defensive security and offensive firepower. The Les Rouges et Blancs have scored twelve goals in their last four home games, which have all ended in victories, yet they will face a fierce test against Marseille this weekend.
Olympique de Marseille
Last season, Marseille finished second in Ligue 1 and if they continue to perform how they have so far this campaign, it seems that a second-place finish will occur again. This season under Igor Tudor, Marseille have picked up 57% of their points on the road, meaning that they have the best away record in Ligue 1. In thirteen games, they have won ten, scoring 26 and only conceding nine. They have failed to score in only one away match all season, which was against PSG. Marseille have collected the most clean sheets on their travels this campaign, which makes both sides incredibly difficult to break down.
Last weekend, Marseille were left extremely frustrated after drawing 2-2 at home against struggling Strasbourg. The hosts were down to ten men within the first half hour after Leonardo Balerdi received a straight red for a professional last-man foul. The Argentinian defender has received extreme backlash for his performances in recent weeks, with one fan tricking some Marseille players into signing a petition for the player to be banished from the club. Even with 10 men, Marseille were able to take a two-goal lead in the tie and they looked almost certain to pick up three points. However, the home side conceded two quickfire goals in the 88th and 89th minute, which will have definitely impacted the mood in the Marseille camp.
Alexis Sanchez is Marseille’s top goal scorer this season with ten goals, however, the rest of the attacking players are lacking in goal contributions, with their second-highest goal scorer being wingback Nuno Tavares on six. Igor Tudor favours a five-back system with most of his side's attacking creativity coming from the wing-backs. These tactics suit away games perfectly and it is most likely the reason why Marseille do have that outstanding away record, as it is tough to break down and it allows players to commit when counter-attacking.
With both sides boasting fantastic defensive statistics and goals, it is quite difficult to predict an outcome for this game. Due to the defensive security of each team, we should see quite a tight, feisty affair. Francois Letexier is the referee for the tie and in his last Ligue 1 game he produced six yellow cards, which means both sides have a good chance of picking up a couple of bookings.
Reims will look to go twenty unbeaten under Still and Marseille will be motivated to end their opponent’s streak. I think this game will end in a draw, which comes in at 23/10.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our previews, tips and offers for this weekend’s action. Footy Accumulators is the #1 football betting site for the latest on betting in the UK - download the Betting Hub app for more!