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Europa League | Knockout Round Playoffs | 2nd Leg
Feb 22, 2024 at 8pm UK
Stade Velodrome
Shakhtar Donetsk

3 - 1

Aubameyang (23'), Sarr (74'), Kondogbia (81')
Gigot (17')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Sudakov (12' pen.)
de Sousa Lemos (45'), Konoplya (45+2'), Matviyenko (58'), Stepanenko (80'), Rakitskiy (90+2')

Preview: Marseille vs. Shakhtar Donetsk - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Marseille and Shakhtar Donetsk, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Already onto their third manager of the season, a disjointed Marseille welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to the Orange Velodrome for the second leg of their Europa League knockout round playoff tie on Thursday night.

Les Olympiens threw away a pair of one-goal leads to draw 2-2 with the Ukrainian champions in the first leg, in what has proven to be Gennaro Gattuso's penultimate game in the hotseat.

Match preview

Marseille coach Gennaro Gattuso reacts on February 15, 2024© Reuters

Twice Marseille propelled themselves into the ascendancy through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Iliman Ndiaye in last Thursday's opening tie with Shakhtar, and twice the French unit were pegged back, as Mykola Matvienko and Eguinaldo saw Marino Pusic depart the happier manager.

Pusic's opposite number Gattuso will not be barking orders from the Marseille touchline again, though, as in the wake of a disheartening 1-0 Ligue 1 loss to Brest on Sunday - where Les Pirates played the final half hour with 10 men - the former AC Milan and Valencia boss was relieved of his duties.

Official confirmation of Gattuso's departure arrived on Tuesday, and Marseille have shaken hands with Jean-Louis Gasset to take over for the remainder of the campaign; another peculiar call from the Olympiens hierarchy after the 70-year-old was infamously sacked by Ivory Coast midway through their triumphant Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

Gasset will inherit an out-of-sorts Marseille crop who are now without a victory in seven successive fixtures in all competitions, with their only win of 2024 so far coming away to Thionville Lusitanos in the Coupe de France, and even then that 1-0 success left a lot to be desired.

Amid all the dejection, however, Marseille have been quietly extending their praiseworthy unbeaten sequence at home and are now without defeat in 13 straight matches at the Orange Velodrome, where they notched nine goals in three Europa League group-stage fixtures a few months back.

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Marino Pusic before the match on February 15, 2024© Reuters

While Marseille have been busy trying to pull themselves out of a Ligue 1 rut during the winter period, last week's four-goal draw ended a two-month competitive hiatus for Shakhtar, who had only engaged in friendly fixtures since December's final Champions League loss to Porto.

The absence of Ukrainian Premier League action over Christmas and New Year saw the Miners enjoy the luxury of a few weeks' rest before a taxing run of exhibition contests - six to be exact from January 22 to February 8 - but any rustiness had little effect on Shakhtar's powers of recovery last week.

Not until February 26 do Pusic's men pit their wits against Ukrainian Premier League opposition again, meaning that the visitors will have had seven days to dissect their opening draw with Marseille, which saw Shakhtar net twice against Les Olympiens for the third match running.

Thanks to Eguinaldo's last-gasp equaliser on February 15, Shakhtar are yet to taste defeat in any of their competitive meetings with Marseille - a run which includes a 2-1 triumph in the second leg of the 2008-09 UEFA Cup quarter-finals - where Eguinaldo's fellow Brazilian Luiz Adriano coincidentally netted the decisive strike in injury time.

Marseille Europa League form:

Marseille form (all competitions):

Shakhtar Donetsk Europa League form:

Shakhtar Donetsk form (all competitions):

Team News

Olympique de Marseille's Iliman Ndiaye and Ismaila Sarr look dejected after the match on December 14, 2023© Reuters

The first half of Marseille's opening stalemate with Shakhtar saw Leonardo Balerdi pick up his third booking of the 2023-24 Europa League, thus ruling the centre-back out of Thursday's second leg through suspension.

However, as one player sits on the naughty step, two return from misdemeanours, as Ismaila Sarr missed the first leg through a ban but is available again, as is Samuel Gigot, absent from the Ligue 1 loss to Brest owing to a domestic punishment.

Gigot will no doubt be a straight swap for Balerdi in the Olympiens' backline, but Jordan Veretout (unspecified), Valentin Rongier (knee), Bilal Nadir (ACL) and Amir Murillo (muscle) remain on the sidelines, and first-choice goalkeeper Pau Lopez is also a doubt after being forced to sit out the defeat to Brest on Sunday.

After being dropped to the substitutes' bench at the weekend, Aubameyang ought to reprise his role in attack after notching his 30th Europa League goal at Volksparkstadion last week, drawing level with Radamel Falcao for the most in Europa League history.

Regarding Shakhtar, the lengthy winter break gave Pusic's squad ample time to recover from any bumps or bruises, but Ivan Petryak (ankle), Marlon Gomes (calf) and Tymur Puzankov (ACL) will not be back in time for Thursday's trip to France.

As is the case with Marseille's Balerdi, the visitors have also lost their own number five to yellow-card accumulation in the shape of Valeriy Bondar, who was cautioned twice in the Champions League group stage before entering the book deep into added time last week.

Thirty-four-year-old veteran Yaroslav Rakitskyi should therefore be drafted into the visitors' backline, but Pusic should otherwise keep faith with the other 10 starters from the first leg.

Marseille possible starting lineup:
Blanco; Clauss, Mbemba, Gigot, Merlin; Ounahi, Kondogbia, Harit; Ndiaye, Moumbagna, Aubameyang

Shakhtar Donetsk possible starting lineup:
Riznyk; Konoplya, Rakitskyi, Matvienko, Azarovi; Bondar, Stepanenko, Sudakov; Zubkov, Sikan, Eguinaldo

SM words green background

We say: Marseille 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (3-3 on aggregate a.e.t, Marseille to win on penalties)

Another reshuffle of the sporting staff is hardly helpful for a Marseille crop crying out for some sort of inspiration, which is unlikely to arrive in the shape of Gasset's short-term appointment, but the famed new manager bounce phenomenon could come to the fore either way.

Les Olympiens remain a tough nut to crack on their own patch and can be expected to at least force extra time against a Shakhtar squad still lacking competitive match practice, and should penalties be required to decide the teams' fate, the Orange Velodrome crowd could make all the difference.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Marseille coach Gennaro Gattuso reacts on February 15, 2024
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Group A

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Group B

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Group C

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Group D

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Group E

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Group F

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Group G

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Group H

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