Marseille coach Elie Baup has urged his team not to be fooled by the mid-table position of Friday's opponents Bordeaux and believes Les Girondins will rediscover their top form in Ligue 1 now they have no European commitments.
- Related Content
OM head into the match at the Stade Velodrome second in the standings - seven points behind leaders Paris St Germain with eight games remaining.
Bordeaux lie ninth - 10 points worse off - but Baup reckons Francis Gillot's men will soon pick up following their Europa League exit at the hands of Benfica last month.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the 58-year-old said: "Bordeaux are still a very good team that have had a good run in Europe.
"In Ligue 1, Bordeaux have paid for their European games.
"Now they are out of the Europa League and they will find a nice rhythm in Ligue 1 as they had in the first game (Bordeaux beat Marseille 1-0 at the Stade Chaban Delmas in November). Bordeaux have quality players like (Ludovic) Obraniak and (Jaroslav) Plasil."
Mathieu Valbuena is doubtful after picking up a hamstring injury in training on Wednesday, but on-loan QPR midfielder Joey Barton could be involved despite angering club chiefs earlier this week with his Twitter attack on Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva.
The Englishman was ordered by his club to immediately cease the posts, but Baup insisted this morning that Barton "holds an important place in the team".
Baup's side lead the chase for the second automatic Champions League spot, but, with only six points separating five teams he knows there is plenty of hard graft still ahead.
"The sprint will happen over the last five games," he added. "But until then, there are important games against our direct opponents for European places such as Nice, Bordeaux and Lille. Nothing is guaranteed, but we must not lose points en route."
Gillot agrees with his counterpart that Bordeaux's league form suffered as a result of their Europa League exertions.
"They were eliminated from European competition, while we stayed in," he said.
"I remember discussing it with (Marseille sporting director) Jose Anigo in the first game. He was not bothered about being eliminated from the Europa League. This explains why we have lost ground in the championship."
He acknowledges, though, that his men will have their work cut out on Friday night.
"It is true that they do not give up," Gillot said. "They have talent. They often earn points at the end of games.
"They are a complete team. They have an interesting offensive potential with physicality, explosiveness, speed. (Andre-Pierre) Gignac can score in any position. Defensively, Nicolas N'koulou is one of the best defenders in Europe."
The 53-year-old, who will be without Uruguayan forward Diego Rolan due to an ankle injury, added: "Our advantage is that we do not concede a lot of goals (25 in 30 league games so far). We must try to be more effective and more aggressive. We create opportunities - now we must capitalise."