French club Olympique Marseille hosts Italy’s Inter Milan at the Stade Velodrome on Feb. 22 in the first leg of their group-of-16 Champions League tie. Marseille manager Didier Deschamps knows he’s got a tough task on his hands even though Inter haven’t been doing as well as usually in Serie A this season. Deschamps saw that firsthand on Friday as Inter was humiliated at home by Bologna to the tune of 3-0 in their third straight domestic loss and second consecutive at home.
Inter has now dropped to seventh in the Serie A table with 36 points from 11 wins, three draws and 10 defeats and sits 14 points behind table-topping AC Milan. Marseille is in place in fourth place France’s Ligue 1 with 10 wins, nine draws and four losses for 39 points.
There’s quite a bit of pressure on Inter manager Claudio Ranieri at the moment and doing well in the Champions League is the best way to relieve some of it. Deschamps said he expects the Italian side to be prepared for their European match and they will try to cut down on the numerous defensive and individual mistakes they’ve been making in their games lately. He said he’s convinced that Inter will be better than they’ve shown in their past four league matches since the Champions League brings out the best in players and they become more determined and focused.
Marseille hasn’t been tearing up their domestic league either as they’ve been held to draws in their last two games and are 12 points behind league-leading Paris Saint-Germain. They drew with Valenciennes 1-1 on the weekend and lost Alou Diarra in the process as he was injured during the game. He’s returned to training though, but it won’t be decided until game time if he’ll be able to play due to an injured toe. Forward Loic Remy has a hamstring injury and will likely miss the game and Stephane Mbia could also be out, but striker Andre-Pierre Gignac could be back in the squad after missing the match on the weekend.
Inter has some better news as Dejan Stankovic, Walter Samuel, and Diego Milito are expected to return to the squad after missing the loss against Bologna on the weekend. Diego Forlan should also be in the squad, but it’s unclear if he’ll be paired with Milito or the team will go with just one striker. Forlan just returned to the squad recently too as he was out with an injury.
Marseille has won 12 if their last 15 games even though their last two were draws. Inter has now lost five of their past six games and have only managed to score in one of those contests, which was a 4-4 draw against Palermo.
Marseille vs Inter Predictions
Marseille appear to be heading in the right direction when compared to Inter Milan and should come out as winners in this home leg.
Sportsbook William Hill has the current odds of a Marseille victory set at 6/5 with an Inter win at 5/2 and a draw at 21/10.