Having returned to the top of the league after a 4-0 win over Montpellier, Olympique de Marseille were dealt a blow as Spanish Under-21 right-back Cesar Azpilicueta may miss the rest of the season through injury.
Coach Didier Deschamps confirmed what Marseille fans had feared after the match, telling the club’s official website: “Taken
OM have already begun the search for someone who can fill the void left by the former Osasuna right-back. Rod Fanni – recently called up by the French national team – and Sunderland’s Argentine defender Marcos Angeleri have been earmarked according to L’Equipe. Whilst both have the reputation of being defensively sound, neither possess the attacking prowess that Azpilicueta can offer down the right flank – something that Marseille have relied on in Champions League games this season.
Despite the setback, which came as Azpilicueta aimed to block a cross, Deschamps was delighted with the manner of the victory. He said: “We confirmed what we did on Tuesday in Moscow. It’s never easy to get back to the league especially against a side that has obtained such good results away from home. We put in a very good performance, very technical and fluid. And it’s good for us to have scored four goals.”
Mathieu Valbuena was once again on the scoresheet and at the focal point of OM’s attacking play. The Frenchman drifted in from the right-hand side to great effect, just as he had done at Wembley for his country and then against Spartak Moscow in previous weeks. If the menacing Valbuena was not enough for Montpellier to contend with, then they could have done without Lucho Gonzalez and Benoit Cheyrou turning in excellent midfield performances. Both coupled their display with a goal, with Lucho then turning provider for Valbuena’s goal to put Marseille 3-0 up. Loic Remy added a fourth in injury time to complete the scoring and halt Montpellier’s recent fine run that saw them sit second in the table prior to kick-off.
The convincing home win rounded off a good week for OM that had earlier seen them triumph emphatically in Europe, but Azpilicueta’s injury may disrupt the momentum that Deschamps’ side had been building. The former Juventus coach has questioned the strength of his squad in the past, and without an immediate replacement within the squad, Souleymane Diawara could be asked to slide across from his central defensive position to fill the gap left by the Spaniard until the January transfer window opens.
Marseille’s first test without Azpilicueta will come on Wednesday when they have the chance to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to three points. Stade Rennais are the visitors to the Stade Velodrome.