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Olympiacos and OM ready for fresh starts

Ernesto Valverde said his Olympiacos CF players were "very motivated to get their season started" against an Olympique de Marseille side hoping to overcome their own false start.

Ernesto Valverde says Olympiacos will try to take advantage of their home support
Ernesto Valverde says Olympiacos will try to take advantage of their home support ©AFP

Olympiacos FC coach Ernesto Valverde says his team are short on match practice but long on motivation as they play their first competitive game of the season against Group F rivals Olympique de Marseille. As for Marseille, boss Didier Deschamps hopes they can put their domestic woes behind them and start their campaign afresh in the UEFA Champions League.

Coach Ernesto Valverde

We lack match sharpness because our pre-season has lasted more than two months, we've had some late arrivals and some recent injury problems, but I'm not losing sleep. We're looking forward to tomorrow, all the players are very motivated to get their season started. Marseille might be feeling pressure as they have not been doing very well in their league, although that could be a disadvantage for us as it could motivate them to do well in a different competition. We are in a tough group where every team has a fair chance of progress. The home matches are important and we will try to take advantage of this special factor. It's my debut in the UEFA Champions League and I am as motivated as my players.

Weekend result
Friday: Olympiacos 0-0 OFI Crete FC (friendly)

• Olympiacos are yet to start their Super League campaign. Their opening two matches were postponed after the teams they were scheduled to face, FC Kavala and Olympiacos Volou FC, were relegated to the fourth division.

Team news
Midfielder Ariel Ibagaza underwent knee surgery in August while forward Rafik Djebbour is returning from a right thigh problem – Valderde said he would make a decision on both after training on Monday. Olof Mellberg, Avraam Papadopoulos and Francisco Yeste are all fit for inclusion.

Coach Didier Deschamps

There is disappointment about our league form but the biggest competition begins now and we need to change our mindset and start afresh. My players are very determined and have self-belief and we will continue our efforts, hoping to turn things around. The fact Olympiacos haven't played yet is not ideal, as we only have information from their friendly matches, but they are an attacking side with quality players in midfield and attack. I've visited Greece as a coach on two previous occasions and have experienced the white-hot atmosphere of Greek stadiums – I hope to prepare my players for it. Our main aim is to make as few mistakes as possible – that's very important in the UEFA Champions League, not to give your opponent chances.

Weekend result
Saturday: Marseille 0-1 Stade Rennais FC
(Kembo-Ekoko 76)
Mandanda; Azpilicueta, Diawara, Fanni, Morel; Diarra, Cheyrou, Lucho (Kaboré 65); Valbuena (Amalfitano 23), J Ayew (Gignac 56), Rémy

• With Nicolas N'Koulou suspended, OM suffered their first home defeat by Rennes since November 2000; they are on an eight-game winless run in Ligue 1 (including five matches this term), their worst sequence under Deschamps.

Team news
Defender Stéphane Mbia has not featured since breaking a metatarsal in his left foot during the 2-2 draw with AJ Auxerre on 14 August. Forward André Ayew missed Saturday's game with a groin injury sustained on international duty and midfielder Mathieu Valbuena limped off with a left knee problem. Valbuena will have a late fitness test along with striker André-Pierre Gignac, even though neither will be 100% according to Deschamps.

Match fact
Olympiacos have lost their last three home matches against French opponents, most recently in the 2009/10 round of 16 when they went down 1-0 to FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Previously they were unbeaten in seven home contests, winning five and drawing two.