Sunday night’s clash at the Velodrome is quite simply a title defining classique. It has been quite a while since that has been quoted but the fact of the matter is this – victory for either side will give them the impetus to push on for l’Hexagoal.
Marseille have come out of nowhere really as their title aspirations seemed to have diminished a number of weeks back. They had a run of four games without a win which preceded their last three results that have put them right back in the title picture. The 1-6 demolition of Toulouse and 0-4 win away to Lens (in Paris) were key but the 0-0 draw sandwiched in between that at home to Olympique Lyonnais was huge! They could have even taken all three points if goal-line technology existed in Ligue 1. Dimitri Payet was ever so bitter about that after the game as he launched a foul mouth rant towards the referee.
We are at the business stage of the season and the fact that OM are back in this title hunt is a real testament to them. Coach Marcelo Bielsa has his lads believing that they can capture an 11th league title come next month. Our meeting on Sunday is must win for them really.
We can go there knowing that any kind of result will be pivotal! We have beaten them six times on the trot – four in the league – and there is no reason why that run cannot be extended. The victory over Lorient just before the international break was no classic by any means. We rode our luck at times! But as the coach alluded to before kick-off, three points were a necessity with this game coming up.
I said in an article earlier this week that the classique kicks off a gruelling yet exciting two weeks for the club. All season defining matches. We have a cup semi-final in midweek coming up, then a cup final at the Stade de France before that mammoth meeting with Barcelona in the Champions League. What better way to kick it all off then with victory over our bitter rivals in their own backyard.
Blaise Matuidi had his say in an interview with PSG TV this week and made some inspiring comments. He also mentioned that a win will create a five point gap between ourselves and l’OM which could essentially knock them out of the title race. Matuidi said; “It’s a big game and Paris Saint-Germain like these big games. It’s an important match, because if we win, they’ll (Marseille) be five points behind us. We are expecting a very fierce opponent, a team that will do everything they can to win at home, but we are Paris Saint-Germain. We are heading to the Velodrome to win”.
Laurent Blanc will announce details on his squad tomorrow but for an international break, he has been buoyed by the fact that a fair few of his key men returned to training last Monday. The players who were competing with the European nations returned a couple days after. So his players should be a in a good place come kick-off on Sunday night.
It is worth noting, five of the last six have ended in 2-0 win for Paris Saint-Germain. That would be nice come the end of play on Sunday! Second-placed Lyon are away to Guingamp tomorrow and may very well end up being top of the table by the time we kick-off. They will have their fingers crossed that the spoils are shared.