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

:Headline: Preview: Reims vs. Marseille - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Friday's Ligue 1 clash between Reims and Marseille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Ligue 1 draw specialists Reims kick off gameweek 34 of the 2020-21 campaign on Friday when they welcome Marseille to the Stade Auguste-Delaune.

Les Rouges et Blancs played out a goalless stalemate with Metz last time out, while Marseille edged a five-goal thriller with Lorient by three goals to two.

Match preview

Reims are not exactly a side with much to play for in the final few weeks of the season, but David Guion's men are showcasing their resilience week in week out to post at least one point on the board every weekend.

Les Rouges et Blancs could not find a way to break down Metz as they drew 0-0 with their fellow mid-table side in gameweek 33 - a result which marked their sixth home draw in succession, unsurprisingly a club first - and Guion has now overseen nine games (seven draws, two wins) without defeat in the French top flight.

Reims appear destined for a mid-table finish as they occupy 11th spot in the Ligue 1 table with five games left to play, but they have broken the all-important 40-point mark and will view a top-half finish as a successful season given their autumnal wobbles.

Furthermore, Guion's side have strung together an 11-game unbeaten run at the newly-fortified Stade Auguste-Delaune, and not since November 2020 have they come out on the wrong end of the scoreline at home, but either one of their remaining home matches with Marseille, Monaco or Bordeaux could threaten that impressive streak.

While Reims are not exactly a force to be reckoned with in the final third, as Boulaye Dia has now bagged just two goals in his last 14 games, only Lille (10) have kept more clean sheets than Les Rouges et Blancs (eight) since the turn of the year, and Guion will be urging his trusted defenders to help carry them over the line against Marseille.

Jorge Sampaoli has overseen plenty of positive changes at Marseille since taking over after Andre Villas-Boas's acrimonious departure, but the Argentine was not sitting comfortably as his side seemed set to drop two points against lowly Lorient last weekend.

Lorient's main man Terem Moffi struck two goals either side of replies from Dimitri Payet and Pol Lirola, and with the scores level at 2-2 heading into second-half injury time, Lirola popped up with his second of the game with a powerful right-footed drive as Marseille claimed what could prove to be an invaluable three points.

With fifth-placed Lens failing to get the better of Brest, Marseille are now just one point and one place below the newly-promoted side in the race for European football, but Rennes are hot on Les Olympiens' trail having enjoyed their own revival under new leadership.

Sampaoli has overseen four wins from his last six games in charge of Marseille, but all of those successes have come on home soil, and the former Argentina manager is yet to oversee a turnaround in fortunes away from the Velodrome.

Indeed, Marseille have failed to win any of their last 10 league games away from home - conceding eight goals in their last three - and Reims are unbeaten in four against Les Olympiens, who are at risk of going five games without victory in this fixture for the first time since 1962.

Reims Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • D

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

Team News

Reims will welcome centre-back Wout Faes and midfielder Moreto Cassama back from suspension this week, and the latter should slot straight back in for surprise starter Dion Lopy this week.

Faes's return could see Marshall Munetsi move further forward, and aside from long-term absentee Valon Berisha - out for the season with a knee injury - Reims have a clean bill of health for this showdown.

Reims' lack of ruthlessness could tempt Guion into some attacking changes, though, with Moussa Doumbia's spot out wide under threat from Arber Zeneli and Mathieu Cafaro.

Marseille have a player of their own returning from a ban in Alvaro Gonzalez, but fellow centre-back Duje Caleta-Car serves the second of a two-game suspension following his sending off against Montpellier HSC.

Valentin Rongier rejoined the group for training last week but was not deemed ready to feature, although Jordan Amavi is more of a concern as he attempts to shake off a troublesome thigh issue.

Lucas Perrin is the most likely to make way for the returning Gonzalez after being hauled off at half time against Lorient, and his replacement on the day - Luis Henrique - is also eyeing a start this week.

Reims possible starting lineup:
Rajkovic; Foket, Faes, Abdelhamid, Konan; Munetsi; Cafaro, Cassama, Chavalerin, Mbuku; Dia

Marseille possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Sakai, Balerdi, Gonzalez; Lirola, Kamara, Gueye, Henrique; Thauvin, Milik, Payet

We say: Reims 1-1 Marseille

Reims' solid home form coupled with Marseille's away day nightmares should, on paper, spell a comfortable win for the hosts, although Les Olympiens have far more to play for in the final few weeks.

Sampaoli's Marseille are clearly heading in the right direction, but they remain suspect at the back and the hosts are boosted by the returns of two key players from suspension, so we can envisage a seventh home draw in a row for Reims.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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