Friday is almost upon us. Ligue 1’s game of the weekend – perhaps of the season so far – sees second-placed Auxerre entertain league leaders Marseille. And already the mind games are underway.
Auxerre’s Stephanie Grichting feels his side are the only team capable of stopping Marseille from winning the league, which adds extra significance to this weekend’s contest.
Should Auxerre defeat Marseille for the second time this season, all is to play for; however, a I’OM win, would see the current leaders open up an unassailable eight point advantage with only three games to play.
Deschamps has already said Friday’s match is “an important one”, whilst Jean Fernandez just seems happy to have his side participate in such a massive duel.
Speaking after the 3-0 victory away to Toulouse last weekend, Fernandez said: “Next Friday we take on Marseille at home in front of a sell out crowd. It’s a great game for our players who deserve it.”
He may be playing to the cameras, suggesting that all the pressure is in fact on Marseille, which ‘keeper Olivier Sorin has also worked upon igniting.
The 29-year-old told reporters this week that Marseille have more to lose than Auxerre – which is true. No one ever thoght Auxerre would be where they are at this stage of the season, fighting for the title, and with a realistic opportunity of gaining a CL place for next season ahead of juggernauts Bordeaux and Lyon.
Auxerre’s 13-goal frontman, Jelen, is more cautious than optimistic.
Speaking to Ligue 1, Jelen defiantly claimed “we can win the title” before instantly disagreeing, “but we have to be realistic. Finishing in the top five spots would already be great”.
Again, Jelen could well be easing the pressure off an inexperienced Auxerre team, who last won the league back in 1995-96.
Yet, in front of a sell out crowd, with all the hard work already put in, I’m sure the manager and his players do not want to turn up and get comprehensively beaten by Marseille.
Three precious points are on the table, and after scoring four against Lorient, then three against Toulouse – whilst still maintaining the best defensive unit in the league – there’s every chance Auxerre can upset the odds.
In other news, reports suggest Gabriel Tamas’s loan move to West Brom will soon be made permanent. The Romanian has impressed since arriving at the Hawthorns in January, and I for one will be sad to see Tamas leave.
The 26-year-old’s Auxerre career has never really taken off, yet loan spells in Romania and England have seen him put in his fair share of imposing displays.