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Marseille come calling amid Brann flak

Published: Wednesday 13 August 2008, 2.12CET
Frailties in Olympique de Marseille's defence could represent an opportunity for SK Brann's struggling attack as the 1993 European champions visit Bergen.
by Eivind Aarre & Christian Châtelet
Marseille come calling amid Brann flak
Mons Ivar Mjelde's assistant was dismissed last week ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BrannMarseille

Goals scored3
 
3
Attempts on target3
 
3
Attempts off target0
 
0
Corners0
 
0
Offsides0
 
0
Fouls committed0
 
0
Yellow cards6
 
4
Red cards0
 
0
 
Published: Wednesday 13 August 2008, 2.12CET

Marseille come calling amid Brann flak

Frailties in Olympique de Marseille's defence could represent an opportunity for SK Brann's struggling attack as the 1993 European champions visit Bergen.

Frailties in the Olympique de Marseille defence could represent a lifeline for SK Brann's beleaguered attack as the two sides face off in Bergen.

'New drive'
Norwegian champions Brann have been beset by problems on and off the pitch in recent weeks and sit eighth in the 14-team Tippeligaen, 14 points adrift of leaders Stabæk IL. The unexpected dismissal of assistant coach Espen Steffensen created a stir, but sporting director Roald Bruun-Hanssen – coach Mons Ivar Mjelde's right-hand man – has moved to calm the situation following the appointment of Harald Aabrekk as Mjelde's new deputy, saying: "We felt the team needed new drive and Aabrekk can give us that."

Opdal injured
There was little evidence of any immediate improvement as Brann lost 2-0 to Strømsgodset IF on Saturday, with both goals coming from set-pieces. Goalkeeper Håkon Opdal had to come off at half-time with back pains, and is now a doubt for the first leg against Marseille. Experienced midfielder Eirik Bakke said: "We will need to raise our game a lot to have any chance against Marseille, but we still have an outside chance of going through."

Makeshift striker
Centre-half Kristjan Örn Sigurdsson (ankle) and midfielder Jan Gunnar Solli (thigh) are also injury doubts, but a more serious concern is attack, with the club yet to sign a replacement for Thorstein Helstad who scored eleven goals in 12 league games before joining UC Le Mans 72 in mid-season. Central defender Azar Karadas may continue as a makeshift striker after starting up front against Strømsgodset.

First goals
Marseille, meanwhile, are looking to take what president Pape Diouf called "a very important step" towards the group stage, having returned to training on 25 June to prepare for the new season. Coach Erik Gerets and sporting director José Anigo have had time to bed in summer signings Hatem Ben Arfa from Olympique Lyonnais and Bakari Koné from OGC Nice, with both scoring in a 4-4 draw in Marseille's Ligue 1 opener at Stade Rennais FC on Saturday.

Video nasty
The two newcomers will compete with Elliot Grandin and Djibril Cissé for starting places as Mamadou Niang is doubtful with a calf injury, but matters at the back may be more pressing for Gerets. Defender Vitorino Hilton is likely to play after recovering from a foot injury sustained on Saturday, and he and his defensive colleagues will look to clean up their act after Gerets conducted an "unpleasant" video session to point out their lapses against Rennes.

Last updated: 13/08/08 20.50CET

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