Marseille v Toulouse
The new Ligue 1 season kicks-off on Friday night as Marseille meet Toulouse in the Stade Velodrome with both clubs looking to build on what were contrasting campaigns in 2017/18.
Marseille made a Europa League final last term but missed out on Champions League qualification having been beaten in the showpiece event, while also finishing fourth in domestic matters. Rudi Garcia’s group concluded their campaign a solitary point outside of the top-three positions in France.
Poor performances against the leading lights and an annoying knack of stalemates held L’OM back. Les Phoceens recorded 11 draws overall and returned just W2-D3-L5 when taking on fellow top-six opposition, a record that appears even worse when only counting top-three teams (W0-D2-L4).
The club have endured a relatively quiet off-season with young Croatian centre-half Duje Caleta-Car arriving from Red Bull Salzburg as the club’s marquee signing. Marseille certainly needed to strengthen in defence and the newcomer is expected to go straight into the side for Friday night’s fixture.
Marseille inspired in home surroundings
Lucas Ocampos is still recovering from injury, as is Rolando, but otherwise Garcia’s group is fit and healthy and should prove too strong despite worrisome pre-season form. L’OM signed off their preparation with a 5-2 thrashing by Bournemouth, although a return to their Velodrome home should inspire.
The hosts have suffered a sole reverse in 16 Ligue 1 games here (W11-D4-L1) and boast an excellent record when welcoming the division’s strugglers. Under Garcia’s watch, Marseille have W15-D2-L0 against bottom-half finishers here, winning 11 (65%) of those matches by a margin of two goals or more.
Les Phoceens have taken maximum points in 10 of their previous 12 when entertaining bottom-six finishers and with Toulouse losing by two goals or more in 12 of their most recent 18 trips to top-six teams, supporting L’OM with a -1.25 start on the Asian Handicap line appeals at 1.97.
Toulouse will miss key departures
The visitors slumped to their lowest Ligue 1 position since 1999 last time out as Les Pitchouns survived by the skin of their teeth in the relegation play-off. As high as 10th after 13 games, Toulouse dropped dramatically before overcoming Ajaccio 4-0 in a feisty two-legged encounter to pressure their top-tier status.
Alain Casanova is now back in the hot-seat having overseen a period of stability at the club between 2008 and 2015 and the permanent signing of last season’s top scorer, Max Gradel has excited supporters. However, the departures of centre-half Issa Diop and goalkeeper Alban Lafont could hurt Toulouse hard.
The team looks weaker on paper and could be without both Quentin Boisgard and Firmin Ndombe Mubele on Friday night. Having lost both meetings with Marseille in 2017/18, and managing just W2-D5-L12 on the road – including shipping 19 goals at top-six sides – it’s easy to oppose Les Violets here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Marseille -1.25 at 2.000
Preview by: @MarkOHaire.