Marseille v Lille – Stade Velodrome at 19.30 live on BT Sport 2

It’s one defeat (W10-D8-L1) since October for Marseille as Michel’s men have gradually begun grinding results out in their bid to break into Ligue 1’s top-three following a diabolical start to life in 2015/16.

Four points from a possible six at Caen and Lyon in the past fortnight deserves plenty of plaudits but L’OM, despite the well-earned results, have been unable to reduce the nine-point gap between themselves and second-placed Monaco.

The draw specialists are now bidding to end a winless league streak at the Stade Velodrome that dates back to September (W0-D6-L2) when Lille arrive on Friday night. And so the hosts will be hoping last midweek’s 2-0 Coupe de France success when welcoming Montpellier to HQ will stand them in good stead.

Les Phocéens have undoubtedly been off-colour at times. Wayward finishing, sloppy defensive errors and starring roles from opposition goalkeepers can all be blamed for their Velodrome slump but I believe there is reason to have faith in Marseille clinching maximum points here.

The absence of Lass Diarra is a slight concern – L’OM haven’t recorded a victory in five games without their midfield marshal – and none of Benjamin Mendy, Lucas Ocampos and Romain Alessandrini are fit enough to return. But the home side coped just fine in their absence recently and have the tools to hurt their guests.

Marseille have remained dominant in all the performance areas; only Lyon and PSG have enjoyed more possession and Michel’s men have enjoyed a very impressive 64% share of the total shots-on-target in Velodrome encounters.

For head-to-head fans, Les Phocéens have beaten Lille in three of their last four (W3-D1-L0) on the French Riviera and leaked just once in those meetings. But it’s the visitors’ rotten road record that really brings the idea of backing Marseille of a -0.50 Asian Handicap to life at 1.98.

Les Dogues stunned Bordeaux with a 5-1 demolition in the Coupe de la Ligue on Tuesday but both sides heavily rotated and it’s hard to really justify that result with any major context. Heading into that clash, Lille had lost to previously winless Troyes at home and been knocked out of the Coupe de France by amateur outfit Trélissac.

The honeymoon period of Frédéric Antonetti appears over – just two points from four Ligue 1 contests isn’t good enough and although they’ve suffered only three reverses in 11 on the road (W3-D7-L3), since the start of last season they’ve been beaten in 14/30 (47%) on their travels.

Sofiane Boufal’s a threat for the guests but only rock-bottom Troyes have scored fewer than Les Dogues’ paltry tally of 17. Antonetti’s team have fired blanks in six away days already despite enjoying a 47% shots-on-target ratio figure and going off my ratings, Marseille should be closer to a 1.80 play.

The 1993 Champions League winners have come very close to clicking in recent weeks and may not require too much tinkering to finally secure a home league win here.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Marseille -0.50 at 1.98

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

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