Marseille want to keep momentum going, PSG at Monaco
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Andre Villas-Boas's Marseille host Brest on Friday evening with the aim of turning a mini-revival into something more substantial.
Villas-Boas endured a wretched run soon after his arrival at the Stade Velodrome, the Portuguese even describing his team's performance in the League Cup loss to Monaco last month as "disgraceful" and "shameful".
Four weeks on and three wins on the trot have lifted fans' spirits and the former European champions into second place.
With Paris Saint-Germain not playing until Sunday evening, victory against Brest will push Marseille to within five points of Thomas Tuchel's champions.
Villas-Boas set as an objective on his arrival at the south coast giants a top three finish -- and that hasn't changed, he says as Marseille eye a return to the Champions League.
"The feeling of unity that exists between us and the wins that follow help to strengthen the team.
"If we continue along the same path and keep working we can be in a good position by the winter break."
OM host Brest on the back of victories against Lille, Lyon, and last Sunday's 2-0 win at 10-man Toulouse.
Nemanja Radonjic got the second on that occasion, the Serb winger's first goal since joining Marseille 16 months ago, to the satisfaction of his boss.
"He's an important player for us and (after this goal) I hope he's going to grow in confidence."
Radonjic is one of four fighting to fill the shoes of the injured Florian Thauvin on the right. World Cup winner Thauvin is not due back until February after ankle surgery.
"This position is our Achilles' heel this season," said Villas-Boas, who wants Radonjic to iron out his inconsistencies and become a regular member of his first team.
"When he comes on and makes a difference he is a weapon for us."
The former Chelsea and Tottenham boss will be taking particular interest in the outcome of Angers' trip to Nice on Saturday, with Angers on 24 points, only one behind Marseille.
If Marseille can emerge as a credible threat to PSG it will come as a welcome shot in the arm for a Ligue 1 dominated by the Qatari-backed capital club.
Tuchel's men are down in Monaco five days after a Kylian Mbappe-inspired fightback earned them a 2-2 draw at Real Madrid and first place in their Champions League Group A.
Player to watch: Irvin Cardona
Brest's promising 22-year-old striker reminds his coach Olivier Dall'Oglio of a former Marseille legend, Jean-Pierre Papin.
"He shoots at goal a lot, he has a magnificent strike, he's like a young 'JPP'" said the boss of Brest after Cardona's right foot secured a 1-0 win against Angers in his first match for his new employers.
He has another point in common with Papin, they both had spells early in their careers in Belgium, Papin with FC Bruges and Cardona loaned by Monaco to Cercle Bruges.
48,500 - the number of travelling fans due at the Velodrome on Friday night.
10 - the number of seasons since Marseille won the last of their nine Ligue 1 titles.
8 - PSG's lead at the top of Ligue 1 ahead of the weekend matches.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Marseille v Brest (1945)
Strasbourg v Lyon (1630), Montpellier v Amiens, Nice v Angers, Nîmes v Metz, Reims v Bordeaux, Lille v Dijon (all 1900)
Nantes v Toulouse (1400), Rennes v Saint-Etienne (1600), Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
© 2019 AFP