OLYMPIQUE DE MARSEILLE vs PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
VENUE: STADE VELODROME
DATE: 7th OCTOBER 2012
KICK-OFF: 20:00 (GMT)
Two classiques in as many weeks begin tomorrow with 1st vs 2nd in the Ligue 1 table. Paris Saint-Germain will need to put European disappointment to the back of their minds as they face a resurgent Marseille team under the stewardship of Elie Baup.
It is quite possibly the most important classique in recent times. Both teams are harbouring title ambitions – especially ourselves – and as things are going, it could end up being a two-horse race ( not discounting the likes of Olympique Lyonnais and Bordeaux of course). We head into the game three points behind OM but their surprise 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Valenciennes has opened the door for ourselves to match them at the top with a victory.
Our domestic form has been nothing short of flawless and the 2-0 win at home to Sochaux last weekend was another efficient performance with Kevin Gameiro coming to the fore. Prior to OM’s defeat last week, they had won all their previous six matches since the season started.
Whereas our form differed to our opponents last week in a positive way, it was the polar opposite during the week during European competition. The 1-0 defeat away to Porto did not tell the whole story as we were below average for almost the entirety of the game and it could have been a lot worse had it not been for Salvatore Sirigu guarding the sticks. ‘Carletto’ freshened things up by brining in the likes of Nene and Gregory Van der Wiel whilst resting the ever present Javier Pastore. Ezequiel Lavezzi’s return to action lasted little more than seven minutes as he tweaked his leg resulting in his frustration boiling over when he came off, booting a cooler across the touchline.
We were outplayed by a fluent team who dually deserved the win. We did have our chances but failed to convert them, emphasising the importance of doing so at this level. It was good lesson if anything for the team. People tend to forget that we have not been in the Champions League for eight long years, so this is all pretty alien to us at the moment. You just have to look at English champions Manchester City who are still trying to get to grips with the competition themselves.
Marseille on the other hand coasted to a comfortable 5-1 win over Cypriot side AEL Limassol. Their opponents are far inferior to that of Porto but the win will certainly have given the league leaders a boost. The return of striker Loic Remy is also more than welcomed by Les Phoceens, considering he has got the thirst for goals again with a stoppage time strike on Thursday. Whether or not he starts though remains to be seen. Andre Pierre Gignac has been the predominant centre-forward this season due to Remy’s injury woes so he may come back into the team having netted three times this season.
The Ayew brothers will more than likely support him via the flanks – or one or the other working in tandem with Morgan Amalfitano. Mathieu Valbuena will play just behind the striker as Charles Kabore and Benoit Cheyrou anchor the midfield. The team is very efficient and it will be difficult for PSG to break them down.
We will go with the traditional three in midfield, as Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore accompany Zlatan Ibrahimovic up top. It looks doubtful that Ancelotti will go with two up-front from the start despite Gameiro’s classy display last week.
The impetus is there to go for the win but anything bar a defeat would be fantastic. This is a difficult game in any sense of the word, the premier game in France, but so much is riding on it at this moment in time. The hostile Velodrome atmosphere may play a part but the likes of Zlatan will thrive on that and could work in our favour. The experienced heads of Alex and Thiago Silva are also key.
When you compare the personnel in our team to the one that was humbled 3-0 last season by OM at their stomping ground, it sure breathes optimism for us. This is the game the whole of France will be glued to over the weekend and we cannot wait.
Bring it on! Allez PSG!