Marseille look to turn things around against Shakhtar Donetsk

After a crazy 2-2 draw in the first leg, in which Marseille twice lost the lead, and a 1-0 defeat at Brest last weekend, the hierarchy felt they had no choice but to sack coach Gennaro Gattuso ahead of this crucial return match. Jean-Louis Gasset was officially announced on Tuesday and the new coach will have to try to improve Marseille’s record, having won only one of their historical clashes with Ukrainian teams (1 win, 4 draws, 2 losses). He will also have to end their run of seven official matches without a win (4 draws, 3 losses).

The Olympians’ only win in the aforementioned clashes came at home (1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss), while they have lost only two of their last 15 European home matches (9 wins, 4 draws). This should at least give them a boost of confidence. They will need to build on this: the club is unbeaten in each of its last eight home knockout matches in Europe (7 wins, 1 draw) although a recent run of three consecutive draws at home in Ligue 1 raises the possibility of a penalty shootout.

As the Ukrainian league is due to resume at the end of the month, Shakhtar Donetsk had no league match to play this weekend. They were therefore able to focus on improving their positive European record against French opposition (9 wins, 6 draws, 5 losses). This record remains positive if we look only at away matches (5 wins, 1 draw, 4 losses) and, after eliminating French club Rennes at this stage last season, the visitors will not pay attention to their underdog status.

Despite a respectable record against the French, Shakhtar come into this game with eight defeats in their last 11 European away matches (2 wins, 1 draw, 8 losses). Another worrying statistic is that the visitors have also drawn 2-2 in the first leg of four European knockout matches but have never managed to qualify in those cases.

Players to watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal in the first leg allowed him to equal Radamel Falcao as the top scorer in Europa League history (30 goals), a record he can take for himself by scoring another goal here. Shakhtar’s Oleksandr Zubkov scored home and away against Real Madrid last season. His team has won without conceding in four of the five games he has scored in this season.

Hot stat: OM have qualified in 14 of 15 European ties when they have drawn away in the first leg.

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