Marseille look to put Ajax at their mercy

Olympique de Marseille will aim to end their poor record against AFC Ajax when they begin their UEFA Cup Round of 16 contest with the seventh meeting between Erik Gerets and opposite number Marco van Basten.

Marseille's Belgian coach Erik Gerets
Marseille's Belgian coach Erik Gerets ©Getty Images

Olympique de Marseille will look to end their poor record against AFC Ajax when they begin their UEFA Cup Round of 16 contest with the seventh meeting between Erik Gerets and fellow coach Marco van Basten.

• Ajax's showing in four games against Marseille reads W3 D0 L1, and they have won both of their previous away games against the French side.

• Marseille and Ajax have met in two previous two-legged UEFA club competition ties, with the Dutch outfit prevailing on both occasions.

• They first met in a 1971/72 European Champion Clubs' Cup second-round tie, with goals from Piet Keizer and Johan Cruyff giving Stefan Kovacs' Ajax a 2-1 win in France after Gilbert Gress had opened the scoring for Lucien Leduc's Marseille.

• The teams that day lined up as follows:-
Marseille: Georges Carnus, Jean-Pierre Lopez, Bernard Bosquier, Jules Zvunka, Edouard Kula, Jacky Novi, Gilbert Gress, Roger Magnusson, Joseph Bonnel, Josip Skoblar, Ange Di Caro (Didier Couécou, 65).
Ajax: Heinz Stuy, Barry Hulshoff, Ruud Krol, Arnold Mühren, Johan Neeskens, Jesaia Swart, Gerrie Mühren, Dirk van Dijk, Piet Keizer, Johan Cruyff, Arie Haan.

• Didier Couécou struck at both ends in the second leg before Ajax completed a 4-1 win on the night with goals from Jesaia Swart, Cruyff and Arie Haan. They went on to win the competition, beating FC Internazionale Milano 2-0 in the final in Rotterdam.

• They next met in the semi-finals of the 1987/88 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, once more playing the first leg in France, where Barry Hulshoff's Ajax beat Gérard Banide's Marseille 3-0 thanks to two goals from Rob Witschge and a third from Dennis Bergkamp. Bergkamp later scored for the Netherlands at the Stade Vélodrome when the Netherlands beat Argentina 2-1 in the 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.

• The teams that day lined up as follows:-
Marseille: Joseph-Antoine Bell, Yvon Le Roux (Eric Mura, 64), Jean-François Domergue, Karl-Heinz Förster, Claude Lowitz, Bernard Genghini, Papa Fall (Abdoulaye Diallo, 46), Alain Giresse, Jean-Pierre Papin, Abedi Pelé, Klaus Allofs.
Ajax: Stanley Menzo, Danny Blind, Jan Wouters, Peter Larsson, Frank Verlaat, Aron Winter, John van't Schip, Arnold Scholten, John Bosman (Dennis Bergkamp, 85), Arnold Mühren, Rob Witschge.

• Marseille won the return leg 2-1 in Amsterdam, with Jean-Pierre Papin and Klaus Allofs registering after Peter Larsson had opened the scoring for the home side. Ajax lost 1-0 to Belgian outsiders KV Mechelen in the final in Strasbourg.

• John van't Schip and Witschge are the only players involved in any of those previous meetings who will have a role in the clubs' latest encounter. They are both assistants to Van Basten at Ajax.

• Ajax's record against French sides reads P14 W9 D1 L4. In France itself, their record is P7 W4 D1 L2.

• Marseille's record against Dutch teams reads P11 W4 D1 L6. At home, their record is P6 W2 D1 L3.

• Marseille have already played two Dutch clubs this season. They lost 2-0 away and won 3-0 at home against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and then overcame FC Twente on penalties in the UEFA Cup Round of 32 after a 1-1 aggregate result.

• Marseille's Belgian coach Gerets and Ajax boss Van Basten have been opponents on six occasions as players. Both played for AC Milan but they were never team-mates, with Gerets leaving San Siro in 1984 and Van Basten arriving in 1987.

• They met in three league games in the Netherlands in 1986 and 1987 while Gerets was at PSV and Van Basten was at Ajax, with honours being shared – a win, a draw and a defeat each. Van Basten scored twice for his side in one of those games, a 3-0 win in Amsterdam.

• They also met three times at international level, with Gerets' Belgium having the upper hand. Van Basten scored as the countries drew 1-1 in a 1983 friendly, while Belgium won a World Cup qualifier 1-0 in 1985 and the sides drew 0-0 in Rotterdam in September 1987 in what was the two players' last competitive meeting.

• Thus, Gerets' overall record against Van Basten reads P6 W2 D3 L1. At home, that record is P4 W2 D2 L0, meaning he has never lost a home game against a side featuring Van Basten.

• Van Basten has come up against Marseille on one memorable previous occasion, Milan's 1-0 defeat in the final of the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League at the Olympiastadion in Munich. It was his last professional game and his only match against a French club.

• Van Basten played against France in a 1-1 friendly draw in 1992 and led the Oranje to a 4-1 victory against Les Bleus in the group stage at UEFA EURO 2008™. Ajax keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and his Marseille counterpart Steve Mandanda were both unused substitutes in that match in Berne.

• Gerets has never previously met Ajax in UEFA club competition, either as a player or coach.

• Shoot-out penalties aside, Marseille have scored only once in their last four European fixtures, with Hatem Ben Arfa on target at Twente.

• Marseille have won only one of their four European home games since the start of the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage, their 3-0 victory over PSV being joined by a draw and two defeats.

• Ajax have lost just one of their eight UEFA Cup games this season, going down 2-1 at Aston Villa FC in the group stage.

• That was their only loss in their last five European away games, with the other four ties ending in victories.

• Ajax are one of four sides left in the competition to have won the UEFA Cup along with PFC CSKA Moskva (2004/05), Galatasaray AŞ (1999/00) and FC Zenit St. Petersburg (2007/08).

• Marseille's Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden – a former PSV player – was a team-mate of Ajax counterpart Gabri at FC Barcelona from 1998 to 2001.

• Marseille's Julien Rodriguez and Ajax's Evander Sno have locked horns once before, when they represented Glasgow arch-rivals Rangers FC and Celtic FC respectively during the 2006/07 season. Sno was on the winning side in the Old Firm game at Celtic Park on 23 September 2006, which ended with the hosts beating Rodriguez and Co 2-0.

• Uruguayan forward Luis Suárez is Ajax's leading UEFA Cup scorer with four goals since the first round.

• Mamadou Niang is Marseille's top scorer in Europe this season with three strikes since the start of the UEFA Champions League group stage. He scored two more in the qualifying rounds but these do not count towards his total.

• Third in Ligue 1 last season, Marseille also finished third in UEFA Champions League Group D to qualify for the UEFA Cup Round of 32, where they beat Twente 7-6 in the shoot-out in Enschede after trading 1-0 home defeats.

• Ajax finished second in the Dutch top flight last season but missed out on clinching a UEFA Champions League place in the Eredivisie's end-of-season play-offs. Having taken a UEFA Cup spot instead, Ajax came second in Group F and beat ACF Fiorentina in the Round of 32, winning 1-0 in Italy and drawing 1-1 at home.

• Marseille have Ronald Zubar suspended for this game, with Bakari Koné and Ben Arfa within a yellow card of a one-match lay-off. Ajax's Eyong Enoh, Rasmus Lindgren, Suárez and Thomas Vermaelen are in the same situation.

• The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place in Nyon on 20 March, exactly two months before the final at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Istanbul on 20 May.