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Nice face a season of struggle

France
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Nice refuse to rearrange Marseille clash

Nice have defended their decision not to agree to a postponement of Friday’s Ligue 1 match against Marseille.

Claude Puel rebuilt his reputation at Nice after failing to bring the expected trophies to Lyon
Claude Puel knows that Marseille will be fired up against Nice.

Fifth-placed Marseille had sought to have the game rearranged because of the number of players they had involved in international action on Wednesday.

Mathieu Valbuena, Nicolas N’Koulou and Saber Khalifa all played at least 45 minutes for their countries in midweek, while several others were on international duty but did not play.   

“We know that they’ll be out for revenge and fired up after the match wasn’t postponed, even though it’s nothing to do with us,” Nice manager Claude Puel told L’Equipe.

“We had players on international duty too. It would have suited everyone to play on Saturday or Sunday but not next week.”

The dispute has exacerbated tensions between the two southern rivals. Club directors have traded harsh words over the course of the season and Nice have narrowly come out on top in both meetings between the sides so far.

The 16th placed visitors won the reverse league fixture in October before winning a high-scoring cup tie 5-4 in Marseille on Jan. 21.

Nice striker Alexy Bosetti received a one-match ban for a provocative celebration after scoring in the Coupe de France last 32 clash. He had also caused resentment before that match by declaring that Nice “hate Marseille more than they hate us.”

Unlike the cup tie, on Friday evening the away section at the Stade Velodrome will be empty. Local police banned Nice supporters from attending the game on an individual basis and fans were unable to find a bus company willing to take them to Marseille.

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