Tudor bullish for European crunch



Marseile find themselves in third place with just three games of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats season left, two points behind second-placed Lens and one of France’s automatic qualification spots for next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.


With Lens not playing at Lorient until early Sunday evening, the game in northern France represents a chance for Marseille to up the pressure on their rivals by moving ahead of them with a win against Lens’ neighbours, even if Tudor is fully aware that Lille – unbeaten in their last 14 home matches – represent quite a challenge.


“I expect a tough game. They play attacking football and have a lot of quality. They’re having a great season. But it’s an important game for second place. We’re going there to win,” said Tudor, whose side lost in Lens in their last away game ending an unbeaten 11-match run ‘on the road’. 


“I would prefer to face a team with less quality and one that plays deeper than Lille do when we play away. It’ll be a tough match, I hope we’ll play well and win.”


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Tudor has a full squad to select from bar long-term injury victims Amine Harit and Azzedine Ounahi with Dimitri Payet available for the last time this season before he starts a three-game ban for incidents at Lens. 


Lille are without their own talismanic veteran with Jose Fonte suspended as is fellow centre-back Alexsandro. With another centre-back, Tiago Djalo, out injured, the hosts will have teenager Leny Yoro and full-back Bafodé Diakité playing in central defence and needing the club’s fans to help push them to a win that would keep them in the top five and on course to qualify for next season’s UEFA Europa Conference League.


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“It’s good that we’re unbeaten at home. The fans are very important for our success. Even though they’re there at away games, it’s different at home. In this type of a match, the energy will be very important,” said Jorge Maciel, assistant to Paulo Fonseca with the head coach missing the pre-match media duties due to a chest infection.


“We’ve trained well, we want to go out and get something from a big game,” added goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, who made his Ligue 1 Uber Eats debut in Lille’s 2-1 loss in Marseille in Round 7 this season. “There’s a lot at stake for Marseille and for us. OM go forward well, they’re strong on the front foot. We have to dig deep to find that little bit extra to help us win.”


Probable teams

Lille: Chevalier; Gudmundsson, Diakité, Yoro, Ismaily; André, A. Gomes; Bamba, Cabella, David; Weah


OM: Lopez; Rongier, Balerdi, Kolasinac; Tavares, Guendouzi, Veretout, Clauss; Malinovskyi, Ünder; Sanchez


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