Europa Preview : Marseille, Lyon and Nice
After Monaco messed up their home tie against Porto losing 3-0 and PSG Mbappe’d all over Bayern Munich winning by the same margin, we’re onto the real competition as the three Europa teams go into their second match.
Lyon – Atalanta
After a slightly awkward first group match that saw OL concede an injury-time equaliser away against Apollon Limassol after Memphis’ penalty opener, and a frustrating set-back at the weekend as they drew 3-3 with Dijon, Bruno Genesio’s group of charming but unreliable youngsters need to get their heads on for the visit of Atalanta Bergamo, who did for Everton 3-0 in the last match.
OL are away at Angers on Sunday, which could be a tricky trip for the seventh-placed Ligue 1 side, so this pair of matches will be an interesting test for Genesio and his team as they attempt to put something approaching consistency together. Maxwel Cornet, Memphis and Rafael are in the group, but the main selection question will be at the back, to see if Genesio sticks with the experienced but not-the-quickest pairing of Marcelo and Jeremy Morel, or gives Mouctar Diakhaby the chance to build on his break-out season last year.
Atalanta needed a 94th minute equaliser to get a point at Fiorentina last weekend, and play Juventus next. Their key man is likely to be striker Alejandro Gómez, but OL’s defence will also need to keep an eye on centre-back Andrea Masiello, who scored against Everton, at set pieces.
With both sides displaying attacking vim, but OL still having defensive issues, this could well be another draw for the home team, which could pile more pressure on Genesio.
RB Salzburg – Marseille
Marseille seem to have perked up a bit after some early wobbles, motoring into this with three straight wins (and clean sheets, lawks a mercy) after their first group game was a 1-0 win over Konyaspor followed by two 2-0 victories at Amiens and at home to Toulouse.
Konstantinos Mitroglou is in the group, and could make his first appearance, joined by other previous doubtfuls Boubacar Kamara and Clinton Njie, OM’s top scorer in the league. While Valere Germain got five goals in qualifying, he is yet to score in the league, so Mitroglou’s ability to hit the ground running could be very important.
Salzburg, currently second in the Austrian Bundesliga, are the highest-ranked opponent for OM in Group I; having dropped down from Champions League qualifying, this should be their toughest group match. The fans will be looking to Rudi Garcia to keep a decent run of form going, and he will be anxious to avoid a set-back.
A point away here would be a good result, and set OM up nicely for the trip away to Nice on Sunday.
OGC Nice – Vitesse Arnhem
Nice are also looking chipper after a slowish start and failure to get through to the Champions League, with a 5-1 away hammering of Zulte Waregem a good way to make your entrance having dropped down to the Europa League. Their 2-2 home draw against Angers on Friday wasn’t a great look, but they did show character in coming back from 2-0 down, with a penalty from Mario Balotelli, and a Pierre Lees-Melou-provoked own-goal.
It will be interesting to see if Vitesse stick with their usual front three of Tim Matavz flanked by Milot Rashica on the right wing and Bryan Linssen on the left: they have eleven goals between them so far. Another attacking threat could be Georgian centre-back Guram Kashia, who has two in five in the Eredivise, including one in their 2-1 away win over Ajax at the weekend.
Hosting Marseille in the big match on Sunday could mean some changing-up by Lucien Favre: Nampalys Mendy is out with knee trouble but Jean-Michael Seri is back after missing the Angers match, as is Marlon. Ignatius Ganago is also in the group and hoping to build on his four sub appearances so far – one of which included his debut goal, in the 4-0 thrashing of Monaco.
At home and facing the lowest-ranked team in the group, Nice will be looking for all three points in what could be a high-scoring encounter.
In a victory of hope over common sense, the FFW Europa accumulator has therefore been put on OL and OM to draw, and Nice to win. The odds on that are around 15/1 so we wouldn’t recommend it.