Monaco go into the match with four points from four matches, with their opponents three points better off and with a game in hand. Kovac said: “Both teams play with high intensity and it will be a spectacular match. Kick-off is at nine in the evening, it won’t be too hot and the supporters will be there. Everything is in place in order to see a good match.”
Kovac, like many Ligue 1 Uber Eats coaches, has been counting his players back in from international duty. Guillermo Maripan won’t return from playing with Chile in time, while Alexsandr Golovin reported back from being away with Russia with a thigh complaint. Kovac is hopeful Golovin will be able to feature against Marseille and the same goes for captain Wissam Ben Yedder, who played 10 minutes for France against Finland on Tuesday, and felt a twinge in training back with Monaco. Kevin Volland should be in the squad despite hurting his ankle in the Champions League exit to Shakhtar Donetsk, but defender Djibril Sidibé is sidelined with a thigh injury sustained against the Ukrainians.
Kovac has been impressed with Marseille this season: “Olympique de Marseille have always been a great team. We have seen how they have progressed since last season. They play with great intensity and they’re very aggressive. They’re a team that never gives up and they score a lot of goals in the final 15 minutes of matches. They are very well prepared physically.”
The Croatian boss knows that OM, under their Argentinian boss Jorge Sampaoli, are major rivals for a top-three finish this campaign. Kovac continued: “I don’t know their coach personally but I have followed his career, notably when he coached Chile and Argentina, and now at Marseile. He’s a typical Latin American coach, very positive, with lots of character on the touchline. I’m like that too and I can’t wait to take on his team. For me, Marseille are one of the favourites for the end of season podium.”
Payet to continue as false 9?
OM’s Dimitri Payet is set to continue in his role as a false number nine, a role he’s revelled in so far this season as he’s the joint-leading scorer in the division with three goals. Arkadiusz Milik’s recovery from knee surgery continues apace and the Polish international forward could be available to Sampaoli in ten days time.
Marseille midfielder Pape Gueye spoke to RMC Sport about Sampaoli, explaining: “He always wants to win by playing well. In training sessions he’s the same as in matches. Off the field he’s very calm and laughs a lot. On the field he is a different person. He is serious and he wants us to play the way he wants. He ‘s a very demanding coach.”
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