Every league has match ups the fans look forward to each season no matter where the two clubs are in the standings. Sunday’s Clasico between Marseille and PSG is one of those games for Ligue 1 fans. This year’s editions should raise the bar some for a bitter rivalry.
PSG enters with its high-cost, star-studded squad sitting in second place three points behind Marseille. Marseille had its Ligue 1 record-breaking run of six wins to start the season broken last weekend, but boasts a talented squad of their own. With pole position in the Ligue 1 title race at stake, this should be a memorable event in the history of this derby.
Both clubs are coming off midweek European fixtures with mixed results. Marseille put a 5-1 thumping at the Stade Velodrome against the outclassed AEL. Loic Remy had a brace as Marseille shrugged off their poor performance against Valenciennes.
Marseille’s boost in confidence should help as they look to take advantage of their home crowd support for the first of what will be three matches with PSG this season. PSG will be looking to pick themselves back up after their disappointing 1-0 loss at Porto in the Champions League on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Porto used its speed to control the game by using their width to great effect against PSG. Marseille would be wise to try and replicate Porto’s wide play early to see how much of an adjustment Carlo Ancelotti’s men have made since midweek.
While PSG should be better prepared in handling this style of play, Marseille could use the spread out midfielders of PSG to create opportunities for crosses into the dangerous Andre-Pierre Gignac who has had an excellent start to this campaign. If play from outside is closed off effectively by PSG, Marseille can look for open channels inside that the Ayew brothers and others can use to create.
On the other side of the coin, Nicolas N’Koulou will have to show the time is now for him to mature into a world class defender. A talented young player with athletic ability to boot, N’Koulou will need to be at his absolute best to coordinate Marseille’s back four, and try and keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic in check. How well he does will be the key to the game for Marseille.
PSG will need to improve on the connection between their midfield and attack compared to the Porto game. Porto did a good job of keeping PSG moving the ball laterally in the midfield. PSG needs to have their midfielders finding the feet of their forwards to get Marseille’s defense back on their heels.
PSG will need to keep balance between attack and defense to keep Marseille’s solid attack from finding too much room to run. A combination of Thiago Silva and the athletic Mamadou Sakho may be PSG’s best pairing in central defense to match up with Gignac, Ayew and Remy.
The crowd will be at a fever pitch from the first whistle. The energy level at the Velodrome should help the give Marseille an additional boost to their current confidence. Ibra and Silva will be able to draw on their vast experiences from the Milan derbies to acclimate to this game's environment quickly.
With that in mind, expect a true battle where a single moment of brilliance could decide the game. If Marseille can win at home, they will send PSG a message that this title fight will go down till the end. If PSG comes away with the full complement of points, expect it to spring them to the title.