Match Preview: Le Classico – PSG vs Marseille

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs Olympique de Marseille

Ligue 1

Venue: Parc des Princes

Date: 8th April 2012

Kick-Off: 20:00 (GMT)

It has been a difficult week for Paris Saint-Germain on the back of last weekend’s defeat away to Nancy and failing to uptake top spot in Ligue 1 from the grasp of Montpellier.

The nature of the defeat was disappointing, conceding so late when in truth a draw would have been a decent result – again applying pressure to MHSC who would have slipped into second. Coach Carlo Ancelotti rang the changes, notably dropping Nene to the bench which has led to confusion this week regarding some hostility between the two. It was rumoured that the Brazilian would not wear the Parisian shirt again – as reported by France Football – but this turned out to be nothing more than Chinese whispers as such. The talisman, who has been pivotal to the club this season quashed those rumours . He told Infosport in an interview that he was almightily disappointed not to have figured – overreacting in the process – but he wants to put it right and end the season as champions.

Nene: “Everyone saw that I was disappointed. I think it’s normal. I wanted to help my team-mates to win the match. I reacted badly towards them. I didn’t talk, I stayed in my seat. I didn’t feel good. When the others don’t play, they encourage us, and I should have tried to encourage them too. That was it. I stayed in my seat, I didn’t do anything, but I didn’t hit the door and I didn’t refuse to go on. It’s absurd. I didn’t even warm up.”

On the accusation he refused to wear the PSG shirt again, he said: “That’s one thing that really annoyed me. It came from a site that no-one even knows where it’s from. I have to tell the supporters that it’s not true, that I’m completely committed to the team and I want us to be champions. There are eight matches left. I want to help the team to become champions and that’s all I want.”

There is no denying the player’s commitment to the club, he has been the outstanding performer  during his time but Ancelotti decided to try something different – freshen things up – after a run of indifferent results.

Coming into Le Classico, it is more than likely Nene will return to the fold and the Italian has admitted that to Le Parisien. During that interview he explained his decision to drop the number 10 but had no qualms over doing so having done the same with players such as Rivaldo, Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka during his time with Milan.

Opponents Marseille have just come off the back of a valiant Champions League campaign, eliminated by German giants Byaern Munich in the week. Nevertheless, their run was the envy of France and they humbled 2010 winners Internazionale in a famous result at the San Siro in the process. Coach Didier Deschamps will rally his troops who are in a dire run of form, nine defeats in 10 within all competitions. It can be argued that their run in Europe has played a part in that and their form domestically has suffered. They are languishing in ninth at the moment, 20 points off PSG and an appearance in European competition next season looks majorly doubtful.

Nevertheless, the wealth of talent they possess is there for all to see. Star striker Loic Remy is winning his battle to be fit having suffered with a thigh problem this week and the Frenchman has netted 10 goals this season. Mathieu Valbuena has undergone a renaissance this campaign, flourishing massively, especially after the winter break. His ability to create chances will need to be restricted as he will seek Remy and Andre Ayew, getting them behind the PSG backline, utilising their pace.

Injury wise for the hosts, Thiago Motta, Guillaume Hoarau and Jeremy Menez are doubts. All three did not train Thursday morning and Ancelotti will assess their condition in the next 24 hours.

Incidentally, Sylvain Armand is on course to break a record. If he plays on Sunday it will be his 17th appearance in Le Classico as a PSG player, becoming the most active ever player in this fixture. He will overtake club legend Jean-Marc Pilorget who he is currently tied with.

Montpellier could find themselves three points clear by the time of kick-off on Sunday if they defeat Sochaux on Saturday. This makes it all the fundamental that three points are racked up, especially considering they have a game in hand. The last time both team met, Marseille ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at the Velodrome. A repeat of the same could all but end Les Parisiens’ title challenge.

Allez PSG!


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