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22/02/2011 11:17, Report by Bruno Rozga
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Marseille focus: Key men

French football expert Bruno Rozga gives us the lowdown on Marseille’s main threats, and how they might replace injured front man Andre-Pierre Gignac…

Didier Deschamps has the tricky task of every instantly successful manager: maintaining that level. And so far in the 2010/11 season, it’s been a struggle for the reigning Ligue 1 champions.

Marseille are back up to third after a 2-1 weekend win over St-Etienne, but Andre-Pierre Gignac, the summer signing from Toulouse, suffered a groin injury that rules him out of the Wednesday’s tie. It’s a blow considering OM’s problem domestically this term has been scoring goals. Two games into the season, the club’s main striker Mamadou Niang left to join Fenerbahçe. The Senegalese was top scorer in Ligue 1 last season and, with little time left in the August transfer window, proved irreplaceable. A bid for Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano was unsuccessful, so the club opted for French firepower in the form of Gignac, who had notable success with Toulouse and has earned 16 French caps (mainly as a substitute).

Gignac is a Marseille boy but has only recently begun to replicate his Toulouse form at the Vélodrome. Under pressure, this physical striker tried hard – maybe too hard. Similarly to Dimitar Berbatov’s experience early in his Old Trafford career, the fans expected more from him. However, a switch to the left of a front three seemed to ease some of the pressure; it worked as Gignac scored three goals in three league games before his injury against St-Etienne.

The team has had to rely on its attacking versatility for goals. Loïc Remy, also a slight concern after twisting his ankle at the weekend, and Mathieu Valbuena (again with question marks over his fitness) are both French internationals and can play wide right, but their styles are very different. Remy is a lean, pacy winger in the mould of a young

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