There’s no such thing as a friendly ‘classique’ and Sunday will be no exception. Even though Paris Saint-Germain have the title already sewn up, this is a game they dare not lose. Strange saying that for a team that hasn’t tasted defeat domestically all season but if that incredible run is to come to an end then let it be anyone but Marseille!
They will be chomping at the bit in front of their own supporters to dent our chances of going an entire league season unbeaten. If that is not incentive enough, they have an outside shout at making it into the top three, thus qualifying for the Champions League (currently five points off 3rd placed Nice).
The stark reality for them though is that they are a whopping 32 points behind the league leaders. They may not have won a league title since 2010 but for a club of their size they should be challenging for the Hexagoal on a more regular basis. At this moment in time there are clubs such as Nice, Angers and Caen all ahead of them and even though their ascension is a breath of fresh air, it is a reality check for OM.
Michel, who came in to replace Marcelo Bielsa at the start of the season, has done a decent job. OM were in limbo when the Argentine tended his resignation after the first game of the season. The southerners would have a seven game winless run during September/October but to be fair to the Spaniard, the ship has been steadied. If it was not for Marseille’s inconsistency at the Velodrome, they would most probably be in the top three at this moment in time. They have only won two games at home, drawing seven and losing three.
If that doesn’t bode well for them, neither does the recent head to head with Les Parisiens. We have won eight games on the bounce against them in all competitions. You can argue in the most recent meeting last October at the Parc, that they were the better side. Having took the lead via Michy Batshuayi they gave away two soft penalties which were dispatched by Zlatan Ibrahimovic just before the break and he cemented his legacy by becoming the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Florian Thauvin is back at the club having joined on loan from Newcastle United. There is also a new striker in the ranks in Steven Fletcher who signed from Sunderland until the end of the season. Both players are in with a shout to make their debuts.
Coach Laurent Blanc will give his assessment on the Parisian squad tomorrow but there should not be any major concerns. It will be interesting to see if Javier Pastore is in line for their returns having missed the last few games but Marco Verratti will be rested due to a recurring groin injury.