Marseille v PSG, Premier League, November 20, 2009
France has itâ€™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.
The match had previously been set for the end of October but at the last moment the fixture had to be postponed after three PSG players had been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. Sadly, that postponed came too close to kick-off for the authorities and with no football to entertain them the warring factions battled it out on the streets of Marseille in gruesome fashion.
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.
Friday nightâ€™s encounter, while still early days in the season, is far away from the drama of 1989. SixÂ points off league leaders Bordeaux and with a game in hand are eight-placed Marseille, while further back in lowly twelfth-spot are PSG, who have disappointingly only picked up just one win from their last five matches.
So bad are the Parisians woes that chairman Robin Leproux has been constantly forced to continually back coach Antoine Kombouare, denying that defeat in Le Classique would force the managerâ€™s head to roll.
Talk is cheap though, and with PSG heading down south without the services of injured forward Guillaume Hoarau and the suspended Claude Makelele, fears are that the club from the capital will find it hard to score. Mevlut Erding, 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.
Unlike their visitors who have found goals hard to come by this season, OM cannot stop scoring at the moment having netted a whopping 11 goals in their last two matches (OM are 21/10 to score in both halves). Goals have come easily for Didier Deschampsâ€™ men, with captain Mamadou Niang having already bagged seven goals in fifteen appearances this term. Brandao (six in fourteen) 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. (OM are 7/4 to win & over 2.5 goals.)
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 1 (12/1)
Full match odds here.