Marseille aim to complete Champions League qualification

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Stade de Reims – Olympique de Marseille Sunday at 8:45 p.m. CET (6:45 p.m. GMT)

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Marseille head to the land of Champagne buoyed by their 3-2 win at home to FC Nantes in midweek at the Orange Vélodrome, when they came from behind twice thanks to a brace from Dimitri Payet before Amine Harit scores the decisive goal with a quarter of an hour. remaining.

Jorge Sampaoli’s side took full advantage of results elsewhere and moved six points clear of Stade Rennais FC, RC Strasbourg Alsace and AS Monaco into second place after the midweek round. OM don’t have a spot for second place yet, but three more points at Stade Auguste-Delaune would see them secure second place in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table behind Paris Saint-Germain.

That’s important, given that only the top two automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League group stage, while third place enters the third qualifying round. The fourth will go to the Europa League and the fifth to the Europa Conference League, but the prestige and financial rewards offered in the continent’s elite club competition is what the 1993 European champions really want.

Highlights: Marseille ahead of Nantes

Moroccan international Harit could once again have an important role to play for OM as he finally made his return to Sampaoli’s starting XI in recent weeks. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has started just 14 games this season since arriving on loan from Schalke 04. However, six of those starts have come in Marseille’s last nine games in all competitions and he has scored three league goals during this period.

“Things are going very well. Finally, because the first six months were difficult, but now I am rewarded for the hard work I put in,” he said after the Nantes game. “There’s still a long way to go this season but I’m ready.”

Pressure on Reims

OM have won nine of their last 10 games in all competitions, their only miss so far being the 2-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in Classic. After visiting Reims, their attention will turn to their Europa League semi-final first leg at Feyenoord in the Netherlands, but that will be followed by the small matter of the Olympic at home against Olympique Lyonnais.

On paper, this appears to be the less tricky game of those to come for Marseille, especially as the pressure seems to be on Reims after beating LOSC Lille 2-1 in midweek to effectively ensure their survival.

Skipper Yunis Abdelhamid’s superb stoppage-time winner gave Reims the points against the outgoing champions and took Óscar García’s side nine points clear of the last three with five games remaining. Surely they can start planning top-flight football again next season.

Highlights: Reims strike late to beat Lille

“We needed to get a win as soon as possible so that we could feel a bit more relaxed heading into the big games we have ahead, not being afraid of falling into the relegation play-off spot,” Abdelhamid said. after watching his side claim a first win in five. “Now we can prepare Marseille, try to make it a night to celebrate with our fans and win the game.”

Leonardi Balerdi and Konrad de la Fuente are out for Marseille, who also saw Cengiz Ünder miss out on winning against Nantes. Arkadiusz Milik returned from the bench in midweek after missing the previous five matches with an injury sustained while playing for Poland. Hugo Ekitike, who has scored nine times in the league for Reims this season, has not played for more than two months.

Probable teams

Reims: To follow

Marseilles: To follow

>> PROFILE: Boubacar Kamara, Marseille defensive dynamo

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