Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol have been handed a very tough draw after they were eliminated from the Champions League qualifying stages and there are no doubts it is Marseille who are the favourites to go through.
Owned by a wealthy businessman, Sheriff have been investing a lot of money into new players over the last couple of years, and while they are clearly the dominant force on domestic stage, this season has shown they still don’t have what it takes to succeed in Europe. Following the 2-0 aggregate win over weak Ulisses, the Moldovan side recorded a 5-0 aggregate defeat to Dinamo Zagreb and were, therefore, eliminated from the Champions League. Coach Milan Milanovic paid the price for the poor results and was replaced by Mihai Stoichita, but we have yet to see a major improvement. The hosts will obviously give their best to achieve a respectable result against their more illustrious opponents, but having lost at home to Dinamo, I seriously doubt they can fare any better against very good Marseille side.
Marseille are recovering from one of the most disappointing seasons in their recent history and no wonder the team now wants to do well on all fronts. While finishing the league campaign in 10th place, OM ensured European qualification by winning the Coupe de la Ligue, and they have so far been pretty impressive in Europa League. After the 4-1 aggregate win over Turkish side Eskisehirspor was followed by league wins over Reims and Sochaux, the players are now full of confidence and hoping for fourth successive victory. Coach Elie Baup is set to rest several star players, but even the back-up players should have enough quality to see off Sheriff.
Marseille is in quite good shape so win in this match can afford to provide even more job easier in rematch.