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.
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.