Marseille - Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Fierce rivals face off in Le Classique with top spot in Ligue 1 at stake
The biggest game in French football takes centre-stage on Sunday, with the league leaders aiming to extend the gap at the top with victory over Carlo Ancelotti's side
By Mohammed Ali
OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE
Fanni, N'Koulou, Lucas Mendes, Morel
Amalfitano, Valbuena, Ayew
Jallet, Alex, Thiago Silva, Maxwell
Sissoko, Verratti, Matuidi
Olympique de Marseille coach Elie Baup is without a number of players in arguably the biggest match of the season so far in the Derby de France.
Young midfielder Rafidine Abdullah suffered injury in the 5-1 win over AEL Limassol in the Europa League on Thursday, with Charles Kabore expected to replace him, having deputised as right-back for the last couple of league encounters. Joey Barton is suspended, for another five games at least.
With first-choice right-back Kassim Abdallah still on the sidelines, Baup could be forced to alter his side once more, with new signing Lucas Mendes from Coritiba making his OM bow in midweek, ending the game with one goal and one assist. Up front, Baup is unlikely to stray from his 4-2-3-1 formation, meaning one of only Loic Remy or Andre-Pierre Gignac will start.
Paris Saint-Germain meanwhile, will again have to make do with Ezequiel Lavezzi after the Argentine was forced off in the 1-0 Champions League defeat to Porto on Wednesday, with Carlo Ancelotti expected to re-insert Javier Pastore to the starting line-up.
Mamadou Sakho is suspended, meaning Alex will partner Thiago Silva in defence. Christophe Jallet is also in line for a return, after Gregory van der Wiel's below-par performance at the Estadio do Dragao.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Marseille sit atop of the Ligue 1 table, having won six of their seven league games thus far, though their last league encounter was a 4-1 defeat away to Valenciennes.
- This fixture in November 2011 ended 3-0 in OM's favour, with Loic Remy, Morgan Amalfitano and Andre Ayew scoring.
- Elie Baup's men have won their last three home games against their fierce rivals.
- The two sides will meet again on October 31, having been drawn together in the Coupe de la Ligue last 16.
- Paris Saint-Germain beat Sochaux 2-0 to maintain a run of four straight league wins to go second in the table.
- Les Parisiens have failed to win on more than two-thirds of their visits to the Velodrome.
- Carlo Ancelotti's side, along with Marseille have kept five clean sheets so far this season, although PSG remain the only side to not have conceded in the second half in Ligue 1.
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Top 3 Predictions
Olympique de Marseille 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
- 13.1 %
Olympique de Marseille 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain
- 12.45 %
Olympique de Marseille 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
- 12.18 %
|France - Ligue 1 (FRA1)||Mar 2, 2014||Paris Saint-Germain 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0|
|France - Ligue 1 (FRA1)||Oct 6, 2013||Olympique de Marseille 1 - Paris Saint-Germain 2|
|France - Coupe de France (FRAC)||Feb 27, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0|
|France - Ligue 1 (FRA1)||Feb 24, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0|
|France - Coupe de la Ligue (FRLC)||Oct 31, 2012||Paris Saint-Germain 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0|
|Olympique de Marseille|
|Apr 11, 2014||Montpellier HSC 2 - Olympique de Marseille 3||FRA1|
|Apr 4, 2014||Olympique de Marseille 3 - AC Ajaccio 1||FRA1|
|Mar 29, 2014||FC Sochaux 1 - Olympique de Marseille 1||FRA1|
|Mar 22, 2014||Olympique de Marseille 0 - Stade Rennais FC 1||FRA1|
|Mar 14, 2014||Stade de Reims 1 - Olympique de Marseille 1||FRA1|
|9||André Pierre Gignac||Striker|
|-||Papa Daouda M'Bow||Defender|
|23||Gregory van der Wiel||Defender|
|-||Mohamed Lamine Sissoko||Midfielder|
The Cameroon captain made headlines this week inadvertently after Zlatan Ibrahimovic quipped that he had not heard of the centre-back, despite the 22-year-old widely acclaimed to be the best young defender in Ligue 1. After stellar performances last season, and superbly holding down a beleaguered back-line which before Sunday conceded one goal, N'Koulou will have to match his best to issue the best reaction, and keep Ibrahimovic's mouth well and truly shut.
For a player who has sampled the Derby della Madonnina and El Clasico, Sunday's encounter will provide the 31-year-old with a very different rivalry. Yet to sample the red-hot Stade Velodrome atmopshere, Ibrahimovic will finally announce himself on the Ligue 1 stage if he can silence PSG's fiercest rivals with a virtuoso display. Looked isolated against Porto and barren against Sochaux - what better way to end two games without a goal?
It will undoubtedly be labelled as the clash of the season in Ligue 1, especially since both sides' progress ths far has already made the Derby de France a mini title-clash. This time last year, PSG were flying high only to be roundly beaten 3-0 in this fixture, so form is not a main factor in what should be a red-hot atmosphere. A draw is the most likely result, but that won't hurt either Marseille or their capital rivals.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed