Champions League Preview – Marseille vs. AC Milan

321206_mediumsquareThe Champions League trophy has found its way on French soil only once in its 54 year history. That place was Marseille.

The team they defeated in the finals in Munich that year was AC Milan. And since that match up 16 years ago, these teams have yet to meet again. But that will change Wednesday.

There is a history between these two team, even if it is a small history. Marcel Desailly was a defender on that 1993 Marseille team. Later that year he would be transferred to the very same team he defeated in the Champions League final. Marseille manager Didier Deschamps was the captain of the team that would go on to defeat the Rossoneri 1-0 on that glorious day. Many former AC Milan players have played in France and visa versa.

But who will come out ahead tomorrow at the Stade Velodrome?

With Real Madrid being the overwhelming favorites to win Group C, most believe the match tomorrow is vitally important in determining who gets the second spot.

Marseille have come off a number of ‘less-than-impressive’ performances so far this year. While the team is undefeated and is currently lying in 4th place, many expected this team to cruise through most of their opening matches of the Ligue 1 campaign (with the exception of Bordeaux). OM have a number of high-powered forwards like Mamadou Niang and Bakari Koné. They also added some more fuel to their offensive fire this transfer season with the accusation of Brandão and Lucho González. Still, scoring goals have been quite a challenge for Marseille, with only five goals in five Ligue 1 matches this season.

OM will take on a side that, like Marseille, doesn’t look quite the same as last year. While Marseille have strengthened their team, many feel that AC Milan have weakened theirs. Most notabilly is the departure of Brazilian Kaka to Real Madrid. Another notable departure from Milan is current Bordeaux midfielder Yoann Gourcuff.

And, so far this year, Milan haven’t looked impressive. While the Serie A season is only three matchdays old, AC Milan find themselves 11th in the league table. On top of that, Milan have only recorded two victories since the Italian side visited the LA Galaxy back in July. Since then, they have lost a number of friendlies andhave only won one Serie A match. The second week of the season saw AC lose to their bitter rival Inter by an embarrassing 4-0 margin.

Even though the team isn’t playing to their potential, they have to be respected. Any team that features Ronaldinho, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Pirlo and Gianluca Zambrotta have to be reckoned with. And with Didier Deschamps’ experience in Italy, he is more than aware of what AC Milan can do.

This is going to be a match of two teams that need to get a little fire in their butts. The question is who will be able to light that spark in this game. This game can really go either way. Both have the offensive firepower to make this a high scoring game. Yet, the lack of scoring by either side this year lead many to think that whoever scores the first goal will be the winner.