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Velodrome construction 'blunting' Marseille edge

PARIS (AFP) –

Marseille's defender Jeremy Morel  (L) vies with Ajaccio's midfielder Carl Medjani on March 15, 2013

Marseille’s French defender Jeremy Morel (L) vies with Ajaccio’s Franco-Algerian midfielder Carl Medjani on March 15, 2013 at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille.

Marseille’s title hopes suffered another setback on Friday when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Ajaccio, with coach Elie Baup concerned that the under-renovation Stade Velodrome may have lost its fear factor.

It was the second successive goalless draw for Baup’s team following last weekend’s stalemate with title rivals Lyon.

Third-placed Marseille moved to 51 points, six behind league leaders Paris Saint-Germain who go to Saint Etienne on Sunday and two back from Lyon who are at Bastia on Saturday.

Baup later admitted that the building work going on at the Velodrome, aimed at boosting attendance in time for Euro 2016, might be having a negative effect on his players.

“It doesn’t have the same atmosphere. It’s not the same Velodrome,” said the coach.

“We can’t blame performances on the atmosphere in the ground, but there isn’t a lot of pressure on the opponents.”

Friday’s game was the 200th in the top flight for Marseille’s Mathieu Valbuena while the point won would have been warmly welcomed by Ajaccio coach Albert Emon who spent 22 years as a player and coach at the Velodrome.

Marseille’s best chances fell to Modou Sougou and Andre-Pierre Gignac but Ajaccio defended well and in depth.

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