Empty Velodrome provides opportunity to Frankfurt when they visit Olympique Marseille on Thursday

Empty Velodrome provides opportunity to Frankfurt when they visit Olympique Marseille on Thursday

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Marseille vs Frankfurt – Thursday, September 20, 17:55BST/18:55 CEST – Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France

Marseille vs Frankfurt will take place at the Stade Velodrome (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Marseille vs Frankfurt will take place at the Stade Velodrome (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

 Two of the most energetic fan groups of their respective countries will be shut out on Thursday night. Olympique Marseille host Eintracht Frankfurt behind closed doors after UEFA punished OM for several crowd disturbances that took place last season.

Originally, Olympique Marseille was supposed to play two matches behind closed doors, but UEFA has decided to put the second match on a two-year probationary period. Nonetheless, further sanctions have been issued given the rowdy behaviour by Marseille fans with four additional (two of them on probation) games seeing parts of the stadium closed.

It is unfortunate for Frankfurt that this very first game back in Europe will take place behind closed doors. Frankfurt’s travelling support is legendary, and the management of the club has now opened the Commerzbank Arena for a public viewing session on Thursday night instead.

On the pitch, however, the empty Vélodrome could provide die Adler with an opportunity. Frankfurt have had a difficult start to the season. The defending DFB Pokal champions were defeated in the first round of the Pokal by fourth division side Ulm and have won just one out of their first three Bundesliga matches this season.

New head coach Adi Hütter is in many ways still trying to adjust the side to his playing style. The 48-year-old Austrian had three very successful years in Bern, with Young Boys, and in Salzburg with Red Bull. Taking over from new Bayern coach Niko Kovac has proven somewhat difficult, however, with his side not responding completely to the changes away from a more defensive 3-5-2 towards a more attacking formation.

Hence, Marseille, who have an excellent side, and managed to reach the final of the Europa League last season, will be quite the mountain to climb for die Adler. But playing behind closed doors means that the stink will be pulled from this game making it feel more like a friendly rather than a competitive fixture. In that kind of setup, the travelling side benefits and Frankfurt could perhaps sneak a point from an excellent Marseille side.

Marseille vs Frankfurt – Players to look out for:

Florian Thauvin #26 – Olympique Marseille

Florian Thauvin is the sort of player people pay money to see. The 25-year-old winger has already scored five goals in five Ligue 1 season continuing his excellent form from last in which he scored 22 goals and 12 assists in 35 Ligue 1 games as well as three goals and two assists in 12 Europa League games. The winger was also part of France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning side but he featured only one minute for the Equipe Tricolore – in France’s 4-3 victory over Argentina in the round of 16 – which highlights the current depth of French attacking talent.

Olympique de Marseille's French midfielder Florian Thauvin reacts after scoring during their French L1 football match Olympique of Marseille (OM) versus EA Guingamp at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille on September 16, 2018. (Photo by Boris HORVAT / AFP)

Olympique de Marseille’s French midfielder Florian Thauvin reacts after scoring during their French L1 football match Olympique of Marseille (OM) versus EA Guingamp at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille on September 16, 2018. (Photo by Boris HORVAT / AFP)

Sébastian Haller #9 – Eintracht Frankfurt

French striker Sébastian Haller has been Eintracht Frankfurt’s top striker this season. Three goals in three games is an excellent start for the tall lanky forward. Signed from FC Utrecht in the summer of 2017 Haller will now return home to France for the first time with his current club. Haller was brought through the AJ Auxerre academy before playing in the Netherlands from 2015 to 2017. Last summer he

Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt - Sebastian Haller was a handful for BVB's defence (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sebastian Haller was a handful for BVB’s defence on the weekend (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marseille vs Frankfurt – Match Stats

  • Marseille finished fourth in last season’s Ligue 1 to claim an immediate return to the UEFA Europa League.
  • This is the Cote d’Azur club’s fourth UEFA Europa League group stage participation. They failed to reach the knockout phase at the first attempt, in 2012/13 but managed to do so in 2015/16 and 2017/18, going all the way in the latter to the final in Lyon, where they lost 3-0 to Atlético Madrid. They were runners-up also in the 1998/99 and 2003/04 UEFA Cups.
  • Marseille staged ten UEFA Europa League matches at home last season – from the third qualifying round to the semi-finals – and won nine of them.
  • The only team that denied them victory at the Stade Vélodrome were Salzburg – 0-0 in the group stage – but OM remedied that by defeating the same opponents 2-0 there in the first leg of the semi-final.
  • A dramatic 2017/18 German Cup final victory over Bundesliga champions Bayern München – 3-1 in Berlin – not only gave Eintracht their first major silverware in 30 years but also secured their first European campaign in five.
  • Eintracht’s only European participation in the past dozen seasons came in 2013/14 when they successfully negotiated the UEFA Europa League play-offs and group stage before going out to Porto in the round of 32.
  • The 1980 UEFA Cup winners won three of their five away fixtures in that 2013/14 campaign and have lost just one of their last eight European games on the road (W3 D4).

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Marseille vs Frankfurt – 1-1

Marseille vs Frankfurt – Lineups

Olympique Marseille:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Pelé – Amavi, Luiz Gustavo, Rami, Sakai – Sanson, Strootman – Ocampos, Payet, Thauvin – Mitroglou

Head Coach: Rudi Garcia

Eintracht Frankfurt:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Trapp – Willems, Russ, Abraham, da Costa – Torró, Fernandes – Kostić, Gačinović, Müller – Haller

Head Coach: Adi Hütter


Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.

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