It is now or never for an Olympique de Marseille side who enter their Matchday 4 contest with PSV Eindhoven at the Stade Vélodrome standing on the brink of elimination from European competition this season.
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It is now or never for an Olympique de Marseille side who enter their Matchday 4 contest with PSV Eindhoven on the brink of elimination from Europe.
• Beaten 2-0 in Eindhoven on 22 October, Marseille sit bottom of Group D without a single point and know that they must win to prolong their interest in the competition while a fourth successive loss – following opening reverses at home to Liverpool FC and away to Club Atlético de Madrid – would confirm them as the bottom team in the section.
• While the seven points separating them from the top two, Liverpool and Atlético, mean their hopes of UEFA Champions League progress appear slender at best, they know that victory against PSV would at least maintain their prospects of securing third spot and UEFA Cup football. Another defeat, however, would push even that consolation prize out of their reach.
• PSV, by contrast, will be buoyed by getting their first points of the campaign against Marseille on Matchday 3, courtesy of two Danny Koevermans headers (71, 85). After losing their two opening games, at home against Atlético and away to Liverpool, they know that a second win here, coupled with a victory for either team in the other Group D fixture at Anfield, would place them within a point of second place.
• The two clubs can take heart from last season's group-stage statistics which show that three teams qualified for the knockout rounds after two defeats, while another one – Celtic FC – progressed despite suffering three losses.
• To gauge better the size of the task facing Marseille, however, only once has a team progressed to the last 16 after losing their opening three group games and that was Newcastle United FC in the 2002/03 campaign.
• Marseille have won just two and lost five of eight past matches against clubs from the Netherlands.
• Marseille's most recent home match against an Eredivisie side came in the group stage of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup when Taye Taiwo's 88th-minute penalty earned a 1-0 win against SC Heerenveen.
• PSV's overall record in France is W2 D6 L6. However, they have lost only one of their last seven games there, the most recent visit bringing a 1-0 win at FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the 2006/07 group stage, courtesy of a Mika Väyrynen goal.
• For Marseille's Belgian coach Erik Gerets, this game marks another meeting with the club he served as both a player (1985-92) and a coach (1999-2002).
• Gerets previously faced PSV in the 2006/07 group stage when he was at the helm of Turkey's Galatasaray AŞ. He finished on the losing side in both matches, going down 2-1 in Istanbul and 2-0 in Eindhoven on Matchdays 3 and 4 of that season's competition.
• Gerets famously won the European Champion Clubs' Cup with the Eindhoven side in 1988 but it is less well known that he made his UEFA club competition debut for the Dutch outfit alongside his current PSV counterpart Stevens in the 1985/86 season. The pair played together in a 4-0 UEFA Cup first-round home win against FC Avenir Beggen on 2 October 1985 and also in the next round against FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, a tie PSV lost 3-2 on aggregate.
• As a player for PSV, Stevens was once on the receiving end of a 6-0 defeat in France in a UEFA Cup second-round tie against AS Saint-Etienne in the 1979/80 season.
• He also suffered a 1-0 defeat at St-Etienne in the 1975/76 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final, PSV going down by the same score on aggregate. Two seasons later, however, he helped his club earn a 0-0 draw at SC Bastia in the UEFA Cup final first leg, prior to a 3-0 home triumph.
• As coach of Hamburger SV last term, Stevens oversaw a 3-0 victory against another French side, Stade Rennais FC, in the UEFA Cup group stage.
• Marseille midfielder Boudewijn Zenden began his career with PSV, making his debut in the 1994/95 season and going on to register 109 appearances and 32 goals in the Dutch top flight before moving on to FC Barcelona in 1998.
• Zenden faced his old club four times in the course of the 2006/07 campaign when playing for Liverpool – and did not finish on the losing side once. The English club drew 0-0 at PSV and beat them 2-0 at Anfield in the group stage; then in the quarter-finals, they beat them first away (3-0) and then at home (1-0).