Marseille v Rennes – Stade Vélodrome at 20:00 Live at BT Sport

Since Marcelo Bielsa departed Marseille at the start of the 2015/16 season, Les Phoceens have been on a downward spiral. But fresh financial injection at the turn of 2017 enabled the club to reboot and the results were impressive.

Former Roma head coach Rudi Garcia was brought in and guided L’OM to a fifth-placed finish and a return to European football. If we only looked at results achieved under Garcia’s reign, Marseille was the fourth best side in Ligue 1 and further improvement is expected following an impressive transfer window.

The arrivals of Adil Rami, Luiz Gustavo and ex-Monaco striker Valere Germain add brawn, ballast and experience to the ranks whilst skipper Dimitri Payet should excel with a full pre-season under his belt in the French Riviera. Clinton N’Jie, Florian Thauvin, and Steve Mandanda are also back in situ.

Off the pitch too, the club is in much calmer waters with Jacques-Henri Eyraud the club’s new president and Andoni Zubizarreta providing a much more professional look to the club in a director of football role. The mood has certainly changed around the Stade Velodrome and Marseille looks ready for battle.

Marseille should prove too strong

Payet is close to recovering from a hamstring injury on the opening weekend of action, and even if the French international misses out her, Marseille should be kept onside here with the -0.75 Asian Handicap angle appealing most at 1.940.

Only PSG and Monaco won at the Velodrome last term and if we exclude results against the top-six, Garcia’s group recorded 12 wins from 14 with 10 arriving alongside a clean sheet. In fact, Garcia’s home record reads W11-D3-L2 with eight of those 11 triumphs by a margin of at least two goals.

Rennes’ rotten start

Rennes head coach Christian Gourcuff has been busy in the transfer market this summer after seeing five first team players depart. Les Rouges et Noirs have been consistently in the middle-third in recent years and finished a slightly underwhelming ninth last term but the club are keen to kick-on.

Too many draws are the recurring problem and in the past four seasons, they’ve drawn 51 times (34%). That included a run of 10 draws in 13 matches last season and only the bottom two clubs scored fewer than their 36 goals during the campaign.

Rennes were particularly strong at home as they only lost three times and two of those were against Monaco and PSG. However, if they are to progress they will have to address the lack of goals that only increased after the mid-season sale of Paul-Georges Ntep, following on from Ousmane Dembele’s departure last summer.

Selling their leading scorer Gio Sio is a concern, as is the departure of their goalkeeper and captain Benoit Costil. The defense looks weaker than this time last year and having claimed just two away wins since the start of 2016/17, anything other than a regulation home win here would be a surprise.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Marseille -0.75 at 1.940

By @MarkOHaire

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