MX23RW : Monday, August 2 15:30:36| >> :600:771374:771374:
Mar 20, 2021 at 4pm UK at Stade Municipal du Ray
Thuram (34'), Gouiri (74'), Claude-Maurice (90+1')
Benitez (90')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Caleta-Car (78')

Preview: Nice vs. Marseille - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Ligue 1 clash between Nice and Marseille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two sides who appear to have turned a corner in recent weeks prepare for battle at the Allianz Riviera as Nice play host to Marseille in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Les Aiglons played out a 1-1 draw with Lorient last time out, while Marseille secured back-to-back wins by beating Brest 3-1.

Match preview

Nice manager Adrian Ursea pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Nice's wait for three consecutive victories in the 2020-21 campaign goes on, but Adrien Ursea's side nevertheless managed to stretch their unbeaten run to three matches with a 1-1 draw away to a resurgent Lorient last Sunday.

Myziane Maolida's spectacular solo effort was soon cancelled out by Lorient winger Yoane Wissa, who was also indebted to a magnificent individual run from Armand Lauriente, as Nice were unable to follow up victories over Rennes and Nimes with a third triumph on the bounce at the Stade du Moustoir.

However, having taken seven points from the last nine on offer in the French top flight, Ursea's side have firmly quashed any fears of a relegation dogfight to sit 12th in the table after 29 matches, as nine points separate Les Aiglons from the drop zone and the European places with nine games left to play this season.

A mid-table finish is therefore the most probable outcome for Nice, although a late push for a top-half and potential European place is not out of the question if their hot streak continues, and they now welcome Marseille to a ground where they have won two of their last three after failing to win any between November and January.

Another inspired performance from Amine Gouiri certainly would not go amiss for Les Aiglons this weekend, with the 21-year-old hoping to return to scoring ways after netting four times in a row before the draw with Lorient, but Jorge Sampaoli's Marseille ought to feel confident in their ability to prevent Nice's main man from building on the 16 goal contributions he boasts this season.

Marseille manager Jorge Sampaoli pictured in March 2021© Reuters

Lightning struck twice for Sampaoli and Michael Cuisance against Brest last weekend, as the Bayern Munich loanee once again came off the bench to find the back of the net in a resounding 3-1 triumph.

Cuisance's first goal of the Sampaoli era ended up proving decisive in a 1-0 triumph over Rennes, but Marseille were already 2-1 up thanks to efforts from Arkadiusz Milik and Florian Thauvin against Brest before Cuisance rounded off the win deep into injury time at the Orange Velodrome.

From a fan attack on their training complex to Andre Villas-Boas publicly announcing his desire to leave the club, it has been an overwhelmingly negative year for Les Olympiens, but Sampaoli has instilled a fresh sense of optimism after leading the club to back-to-back wins for the first time December.

As the fight to qualify for European competition hots up, Marseille are now leading the charge as they sit fifth in the table on 45 points - level with sixth-placed Lens but ahead on goal difference - and Sampaoli will now be tasked with ending Les Olympiens' eight-game winless streak away from home in the league, a run stretching all the way back to December 4.

A victory here for the visitors would see Sampaoli become the first Marseille manager since Elie Baup in 2012 to win his first three matches in charge, and history favours Les Olympiens as they are on a seven-game winning streak against Nice, including a thrilling 3-2 triumph under Nasser Larguet last month.

Nice Ligue 1 form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

Nice form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Marseille Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Marseille form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

Team News

Marseille's Jordan Amavi pictured in action in October 2020© Reuters

Nice will welcome Jean-Clair Todibo back with open arms after he missed the draw with Lorient through suspension, and he is set to return to his rightful place in the heart of defence, but his partner William Saliba has reportedly contracted coronavirus and will be forced to miss out.

Dante, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Hicham Boudaoui are all out for the long term, although the latter could come back before the season is over, while Rony Lopes and Youcef Atal are thought to have reasonably good chances of coming back this weekend.

Atal could potentially replace Jordan Lotomba at right-back if he is declared fit, but Ursea should largely stick with the same XI from last weekend's stalemate in Brittany.

Marseille will be forced into a midfield rejig as Boubacar Kamara is suspended for this fixture, so Pape Gueye should earn a recall to the number 6 role at the Allianz Riviera.

Sampaoli has another engine room dilemma with Cuisance surely doing enough to warrant a start, but Saif-Eddine Khaoui enjoyed his best game in a Marseille shirt against Nice in February and will be eyeing another strong performance against Les Aiglons.

Jordan Amavi remains out as well, but there could be a change on the left-hand side regardless, as Luis Henrique has also proved his worth to Sampaoli with two assists as a substitute in the win over Brest.

Nice possible starting lineup:
Benitez; Lotomba, Daniliuc, Todibo, Kamara; Schneiderlin, Lees Melou, Claude-Maurice; Maolida, Dolberg, Gouiri

Marseille possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Gonzalez, Balerdi, Caleta-Car; Gueye; Lirola, Cuisance, Thauvin, Nagatomo; Payet, Milik

SM words green background

We say: Nice 1-2 Marseille

Marseille have enjoyed unprecedented success against Nice in recent years and are firmly on the up with Sampaoli in control of the reins. The loss of Kamara is certainly a blow to the visitors, and Ursea's Nice have been producing the goods recently as well, but we are still backing Les Olympiens to continue their strong start under Sampaoli with a first Ligue 1 away win of 2021.

Top tip

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Monday's key events

· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

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· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

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