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Mandanda rallies Marseille ranks

Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda says Olympique de Marseille "have our backs against the wall" and stresses there is no room for error when fellow Group F strugglers MŠK Žilina visit.

Steve Mandanda knows Marseille have to hit form this week
Steve Mandanda knows Marseille have to hit form this week ©Getty Images

There is no more room for error warned Olympique de Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda ahead of MŠK Žilina's visit to the French champions on Tuesday.

Defeats by FC Spartak Moskva and Chelsea FC have left both Marseille and their Slovakian opponents without a UEFA Champions League Group F point and Mandanda's side need to start winning if they are to progress past this stage for the first time since their 1992/93 triumph. Mandanda, a regular in OM's three straight third-place group finishes since his 2007 arrival from Le Havre AC, does not want to make it fourth time unlucky.

"We don't know much about Žilina, but we are playing a Champions League game, we know it is going to be tough," Mandanda said. "We have our backs against the wall. There is no room for mistakes. If we want to retain a chance of qualifying, we will need to win tomorrow and in Slovakia. Then, we will try and produce an upset in Moscow against Spartak."

Mandanda underlined that the Slovakian champions were an unknown quantity. "We have a video session tomorrow, but what will happen on the pitch will be decisive," the French international said. "Unlike against Spartak and Chelsea, we will need to be ready right from the start of the game." In particular, that meant making the most of their opportunities. "Against Spartak, we had lots of chances but we could not convert them," Mandanda said. "I hope we can correct that tomorrow."

It also means improving on their performance in the 1-0 weekend win over AS Nancy-Lorraine, which earned criticism from coach Didier Deschamps. "We were quite bad on Saturday and I hope we cannot do worse," Mandanda said. "We will have to raise our technical level and maintain our spirit."

As for Žilina captain Róbert Jež, he knows that Marseille will be see this game as the perfect chance to get off the mark. "I hope that we can win here, but even a draw would be good for us," the midfielder said. "Marseille are favourites, it is to be expected that they are looking for six points against us. We had a difficult start against Chelsea and Spartak, and we know that it will not be easy here in Marseille. We knew that it would be like that when we saw the draw, but we will try and get as many points as possible."