Marseille v PSG, Premier League, October 25, 2009
France has it’s own Le Classique this weekend as the glamour clubs of the south and north, Marseille and PSG, clash at the Stade Veladrome on Sunday night.
Rivalry between the two camps crystalised in the late 80s, with arguably the most famous match taking place on the final day of the 1988/89 Ligue 1 season. Mirroring the epic events over the channel that year which saw Arsenal win the title at Anfield on the final day of season, PSG took on OM with both clubs tied on 70 points at the top of the table.
The winner-takes-all match was on a knife-edge until the closing stages, as Marseille midfielder Franck Sauzee scored a last-gasp 30-yard screamer to give the Southerners the Ligue 1 title. That winning season formed the foundation of a 5-year domination of French football by Marseille, though that ended in disgrace with the Bernard Tapie scandal in the early 1990s.
Violence has also surfaced on several occasions down the years when OM and PSG meet. During a Coupe de France match back in 1995, 146 people and 9 policemen were hospitalised after fighting broke out between the rival supporters, while the start of the 2000 French league season was tainted when an 18-year old Marseille supporter was paralysed for life after being struck by a seat thrown from the Parisians section of the Parc des Princes.
Sunday night’s encounter, while still early days in the season, is far away from the drama of 1989. Three points off league leaders Lyon are fifth-placed Marseille, while further back in lowly ninth-spot are PSG, who have disappointingly only picked up three points from their last five matches.
So bad are the Parisians woes that chairman Robin Leproux has been forced this week to voice the deadly vote of confidence for coach Antoine Kombouare, denying that defeat in Le Classique would force the manager’s head to roll.
Leproux: “We’re not even considering losing at Marseille. We’re going there to win. If we don’t get the result we’re hoping for, however, it will not be a reason to talk about a crisis… [Kombouare] has just arrived, showing real leadership and a true vision. He has everybody’s backing at the club.”
Talk is cheap though, and with PSG heading down south without the services of injured forwards Mevlut Erding and Guillaume Hoarau, fears are that the club from the capital will find it hard to score. Elder statesmen Ludovic Giuly and Peguy Luyindula will be required to bring their A-game if PSG are to leave the match with any type of result, while the likes of Stephane Sessegnon and Jeremy Clement will be asked to provide support from midfield.
Marseille, who have rebounded from a slow start to the new campaign, received a timely boost ahead of the match when they beat FC Zurich 1-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League courtesy of Gabriel Heinze’s second half winner.
Unlike the visitors who have scored four goals in their last six outings (OM are 6/5 to win to nil), netting goals has come easily for Didier Deschamps’ men, with captain Mamadou Niang having already bagged six goals in nine appearances this term. Brandao (three in eight) will likely be used as the main centre-forward for OM, while other attacking options are aplenty with the likes of Bakary Kone and Fernando Morientes available.
Further back OM have a multitude of talent to pick from in midfield, as Lucho Gonzalez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Benoit Cheyrou and Stephane Mbia all battle for starting places.
101gg predicts: Marseille 3 – PSG 0 (14/1)
Full match odds here.