Marseille v Angers – Stade Vélodrome at 16:00 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

Although Payet remains a major doubt having suffered a hamstring injury on the opening weekend of action, and Marseille face an away Europa League tie on Thursday evening, I’m still keen to keep L’OM onside here with the -0.75 Asian Handicap angle appealing most at 1.840.

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-D2-L2 with eight of those 11 triumphs by a margin of at least two goals.

Angers’ away day blues

Angers spent a few weeks in Ligue 1’s relegation zone back in February with African Cup of Nations call-ups and injuries having a debilitating effect on the side’s progress. Nevertheless, a run of five triumphs in six led the club into mid-table with boss Stephane Moulin than committing to another year in the hot-seat.

Moulin is entering his seventh campaign in charge and has earmarked a top-half finish as Angers aim this term. Les Scoïstes are known to be supremely organized and defensively sound under the 50-year-old’s watch but recently they’ve added an attacking dimension to their game.

A routine 2-0 triumph at newly-promoted Amiens followed a fortune 2-2 draw at home to Bordeaux but it’s their road record at Ligue 1’s leading lights that are potentially their Achilles heel. Angers have been beaten in 21/39 (54%) of away days since promotion, including 13/19 (68%) at top-half teams and 8/12 (67%) when traveling to top-six teams.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Marseille -0.75 at 1.840

By @MarkOHaire

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