By Eskender Tamrat
When: 2:45PM EST, Friday, April 21st, 2017
Where: Stade Marcel Picot, Tomblaine, France
Betting Line: OFF
TV Coverage: beIN Sports
Olympique de Marseille (14-9-10) and AS Nancy (8-7-18) will kick off Ligue 1's matchday 34 action on Friday. With a 4-0 win at Saint-Étienne, Marseille finally ended their three-game frustrating run of draws. Nancy lost at OGC Nice (21-10-2), who are yet to lose at home in the league, but remained outside of the bottom three because of results elsewhere.
Marseille beat Nancy 3-0 in the reverse fixture with all the goals coming in the second-half, while former Marseille midfielder Benoît Pedretti saw his marching orders. Nancy's surprise win at the Stade Vélodrome in 2013 – courtesy of an own-goal by André Ayew – was the only occasion Marseille failed to beat Nancy in the last ten meetings between the sides.
Vincent Muratori, Tobias Badila and Youssef Aït Bennasser are doubtful from the home team, while Marseille's duo Karim Rekik and Rémy Cabella are also on the sidelines.
Marseille were in full swing against Saint-Étienne in the previous round. Prior to the kick-off, fans revealed a plain and daring tifo to the league's governing body – Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP). They felt undone by LFP's decision to close some section of Stade Vélodrome for the game against Dijon FCO (6-11-16) earlier this month.
But the widely lauded performance of the day came from the players. Marseille dispatched an injury-hit Saint-Etienne to revive their hopes of finishing in top five. Florian Thauvin and Bafetimbi Gomis – both on target in the reverse 3-0 win against Nancy – were the star performers. The new French international scored twice and assisted Gomis' strike, which was the pick of the bunch.
Nancy threatens to end Nice's home run when Maurice Dalé – who also opened the gates with an early goal in the 3-0 win against Stade Rennais FC (10-13-10) – opened the scoring against the third-placed team in the last round. But normal service restored, with Nancy succumb to their eighth defeat in ten matches and Nice securing a top three finish courtesy of a 3-1 comeback win.
But with the in-form FC Lorient (9-4-20) losing for the first time in month, Dijon also squandering an early lead against table toppers AS Monaco FC (24-5-3) and the shameful scenes at SC Bastia (6-10-16) which led to the abandonment of their fixture against Olympique Lyonnais (17-3-12), Nancy remained just outside the red zone for the time being.
1. Nancy (25) scored the fewest goals in Ligue 1 this season.
2. Marseille became the first team to score four goals against Saint-Etienne this season. The Greens only have an inferior defensive record to the league's top three teams.
3. Only Monaco (20) scored more goals from set pieces than Marseille (14) did so far in the league season.
Marseille is smelling a change of fortune following their emphatic win against Saint-Étienne. A win here would further boost their push for a top five finish, with a crunching game against FC Girondins Bordeaux (14-10-9) awaits them in the penultimate weekend. In a similar tone, matches against direct rivals in the coming weeks would have a huge say in Nancy's battle to avoid relegation.
Marseille 2, Nancy 0
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