Shaky Marseille see flicker of hope against Bayern
Paris: Olympique Marseille are on their knees and will have two key players missing when they host formidable Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday but hope springs eternal.
While OM have lost seven of their last eight games in all competitions, Bayern have scored 22 goals in their last five games and head to Provence beaming with confidence.
Marseille, who put an end to their losing streak with a 1-1 draw at Nice in Ligue 1 on Saturday, will be without goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and centre back Souleymane Diawara through suspension.
Senegal`s Diawara will also miss the rest of the season after he sustained a serious knee injury at Nice.
Mandanda will be replaced by Gennaro Bracigliano, whose blunder handed third division Quevilly a 3-2 extra-time win in a French Cup quarter-final last week.
The former Nancy keeper believes his team can still cause an upset against the Germans.
"Hope does not care about logic," said Bracigliano.
Marseille can draw comfort from beating Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund twice in the Champions League group phase this season.
Saturday`s draw at Nice was also hard-fought as they snatched a point despite playing the second half with 10 men following Charles Kabore`s dismissal on the stroke of halftime.
"The bleeding has not stopped yet but at least we have put a bandage on it," coach Didier Deschamps told reporters.
Deschamps may also be able to count on Loic Remy, who missed Saturday`s game with a thigh problem but could partner Mathieu Valbuena at the Stade Velodrome after his France team mate returned from an injury layoff against Nice.
Marseille fans wishing to be upbeat ahead of their first appearance in the last eight since winning the competition in 1993 will wince when looking at Bayern`s recent displays.
The four-times European Cup winners tightened their grip on second spot in the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win over Hanover 96 on Saturday.
"We are thinking straight and are very confident," former Marseille midfielder Franck Ribery said. "We will prepare very well for this game to get the good result we want."
Coach Jupp Heynckes rested Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez and Thomas Mueller for much of the game against Hanover but the former was again on target, coming on after an hour for his 23rd league goal of the season.
Bayern, also in the German Cup final, have been in devastating form recently as they rip defences to shreds down the wings while impressive 19-year-old Austrian David Alaba has won a starting spot.
"We only have finals now going into the last stretch of the season," said Gomez, whose team are chasing a treble of titles with the Champions League final to be held in Munich in May.
"These knockout games are very attractive."
Heynckes may again be without midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger after he missed Saturday with an ankle injury.
Schweinsteiger`s presence could be key as his absence for several months this season through a broken collarbone and a ligament tear has affected their performance and seen Bayern drop behind Dortmund in the title race.
"We are taking this game very seriously," said Heynckes, who rested his players on Monday. "Marseille beat Dortmund twice and knocked Inter Milan out of the competition."
Olympique Marseille: 1-Gennaro Bracigliano; 2-Cesar Azpilicueta, 3-Nicolas Nkoulou, 17-Stephane Mbia, 15-Jeremy Morel; 7-Benoit Cheyrou, 4-Alou Diarra, 18-Morgan Amalfitano, 28-Mathieu Valbuena; 20-Andre Ayew, 11-Loic Remy
Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 21-Philipp Lahm, 17-Jerome Boateng, 28-Holger Badstuber, 27-David Alaba; 10-Arjen Robben, 30-Luiz Gustavo, 39-Toni Kroos, 25-Thomas Mueller, 7-Franck Ribery; 33-Mario Gomez
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)