Paris Saint-Germain-Olympique de Marseille Preview: Le Classique takes centre-stage in France as title race hots up
The biggest game in the French footballing calendar sees Elie Baup's men aim to gatecrash David Beckham's debut and reignite their title hopes in a hugely-anticipated clash
By Mohammed Ali
Jallet, Sakho, Alex, Maxwell
Lucas Moura, Pastore
OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE
Fanni, N'Koulou, Lucas Mendes, Morel
Kadir, Valbuena, A.Ayew
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti will announce on Saturday whether or not former England captain David Beckham has made the squad to face arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille at the Parc des Princes.
The former LA Galaxy star, 37, has not featured in a competitive match since his previous club's MLS Cup victory, but is widely expected to make the substitutes bench at least, as Ancelotti grapples with Lucas' fitness issues and his widening rift with Jeremy Menez in the right-midfield position.
Thiago Silva remains some way from a return, with Thiago Motta also sidelined. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will spearhead the attack after confusion regarding a possible suspension, which the LFP have sought to dismiss.
Meanwhile, Marseille boss Elie Baup has himself a few injury and suspension issues to contend with ahead of a mammoth season-defining week for the Provence club.
Benoit Cheyrou has pulled out of both the league clash and the cup fixture against PSG - which will take place on Wednesday evening, with Jordan Ayew suspended for two matches and Morgan Amalfitano nursing a knee injury.
New signing Alaixys Romao should partner Joey Barton in midfield, as Andre-Pierre Gignac seeks to emulate Ibrahimovic, as was the case in the side's previous meeting at Stade Velodrome in October.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Paris Saint-Germain sit atop of the Ligue 1 table, despite their shock 3-2 defeat to Sochaux last weekend.
- A double from Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right) cancelled out two strikes by Andre Pierre-Gignac when the teams met on October 7 in the league.
- Les Parisiens have succumbed to defeat just four times in their last 45 home games in Ligue 1.
- Carlo Ancelotti's side have conceded one goal in their last six fixtures at the Parc des Princes.
- Marseille sit third in Ligue 1, five points behind their arch-rivals.
- L'OM have lost each of their last three fixtures at the Parc des Princes. This will be the sides' third meeting of the 2012-13 season, with a second cup tie scheduled for Wednesday.
- Nevertheless, Marseille have found the net in each of their last 13 league fixtures against the capital club.
- The Provence club's last victory in the capital came almost exactly three years ago, with the 3-0 scoreline en route to the 2010 title remains their biggest league win at this ground.
- Sunday's match is sold out, with French media reporting 350 journalists across the globe have been accredited for the clash, though, just seven from England.
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Top 3 Predictions
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Olympique de Marseille
- 15.25 %
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Olympique de Marseille
- 14.05 %
Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Olympique de Marseille
- 10.97 %
|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|
|France - Ligue 1 (FRA1)||Oct 7, 2012||Olympique de Marseille 2 - Paris Saint-Germain 2|
|Dec 4, 2013||Evian Thonon Gaillard 2 - Paris Saint-Germain 0||FRA1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 4 - Olympique Lyonnais 0||FRA1|
|Nov 27, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 2 - Olympiakos Piraeus 1||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Stade de Reims 0 - Paris Saint-Germain 3||FRA1|
|Nov 9, 2013||Paris Saint-Germain 3 - OGC Nice 1||FRA1|
|Olympique de Marseille|
|Dec 6, 2013||Olympique de Marseille 0 - FC Nantes Atlantique 1||FRA1|
|Dec 3, 2013||LOSC Lille Métropole 1 - Olympique de Marseille 0||FRA1|
|Nov 29, 2013||Olympique de Marseille 2 - Montpellier HSC 0||FRA1|
|Nov 26, 2013||Arsenal 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0||UCL|
|Nov 22, 2013||AC Ajaccio 1 - Olympique de Marseille 3||FRA1|
|23||Gregory van der Wiel||Defender|
|9||André Pierre Gignac||Striker|
|-||Marcellin Achille Anani||Striker|
The Sweden international dazzled in the return fixture at Stade Velodrome back in early October, and will once again be the main source of goals in this heated encounter. Struck a sumptuous free-kick past Steve Mandanda, as well as an audacious backheel-goal last time out against Elie Baup's side, with the 31-year-old aiming to emulate that record again. With 21 goals to his name in Ligue 1, he'll certainly prove to be a handful for the Marseillais - that is, if he manages to keep his focus.
The France international once again has been Marseille's best player over the course of an above-average season for the Provence outfit. Recently announcing the agreement of a new contract with the club, Valbuena remains revered at the Velodrome, and Marseille's best bet to inject some creativity in an attacking set-up which has lost considerable quality following the departure of Loic Remy. His pace and trickery down the middle should see him give PSG one or two headaches.
A tough game to predict in all honesty. With the title race hotting up, Marseille's sketchy form in Ligue 1 since the turn of the year, coupled with PSG's recent resurgence, as well as their decent form barring that shocker in Sochaux last weekend sees all roads point to a home win. Yet, these types of games often call for a different style, or an alternative approach. Whilst OM will be seeking to gatecrash the Beckham party, Carlo Ancelotti's men should sneak through this one.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed