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Jul 8, 2013

Baup: Marseille can compete

Marseille coach Elie Baup believes his team can compete with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco next season but acknowledged it would be difficult to repeat last season's second-placed finish.

Baup, 58, has added Lille attacker Dimitri Payet to his squad, but champions PSG and big-spending Monaco are widely expected to fight it out for the Ligue 1 title.

After Marseille finished tenth two seasons ago, Baup returned to management to guide them to the runners-up spot last season. He told L'Equipe he felt they could defy expectations again.

"There are teams that weren't supposed to be champions who were champions," he said. "There are still clubs around who can upset predictions.

"Paris and Monaco have made some extraordinary signings. It's beyond belief in terms of football here. But we won't be starting off already beaten, even if there will be no room for error."

Baup said Monaco's tax-free status gave the principality club an unfair advantage over the rest of Ligue 1, but stressed that his side were well-prepared to meet the challenges ahead.

"To tackle things in a different way would be a mistake," he said. "We should start this season with lots of hunger, humility and determination.

"The only difference is that last year we had to reduce the wage bill. Now the idea is not to sell but to reinforce ourselves, as the arrival of Dimitri Payet showed."

The former Bordeaux, St-Etienne and Toulouse coach expects Payet to be able to play in any of the attacking positions across Marseille's 4-5-1 formation. The 26-year-old France international scored 12 goals and had 12 assists for Lille in Ligue 1 last term.

Despite finishing second then, Marseille will have been conscious of the need to add further creativity to their team. They scored just 42 times in 38 league matches last season, winning 1-0 12 times during the campaign.

Baup was criticised by his own directors for the lack of excitement, but defended his team's style. "Last season we were the team that had the most possession in attacking zones, even in front of PSG," he explained.

"We put in some great crosses, we had lots of chances, but we didn't translate that with efficiency. We're all aware of that. Before scoring a goal, we needed four or five chances on average."

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