Paris Saint-Germain are bracing themselves for the highly anticipated Le Classique, as they take on Marseille on Sunday.
Ten games into the new season, Paris Saint-Germain have enjoyed a phenomenal start to their Ligue 1 campaign. They are leading the table by a whopping nine points and are the undisputed favourites to regain the French league title after missing out to LOSC Lille during the 2020/21 campaign.
However, on Sunday, they will brace themselves for arguably the toughest test in Ligue 1 so far, as they travel to Stade Velodrome to face Marseille, a famous rivalry in France known as Le Classique.
The hosts are heading into this game in the third position, trailing second-placed Lens by just one point. But they do have a game in hand, which means a win could help Marseille close the gap at the top to seven points by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Speaking of PSG, they have recovered well since a shocking 2-0 defeat to Rennes, having secured a win over Angers and RB Leipzig since. However, Les Parisiens do have a tough run of fixtures coming up, as they take on the defending champions Lille in their next game before travelling to Leipzig for the fourth UEFA Champions League group game.
Nevertheless, Mauricio Pochettino’s men remain favourites to seal all three points, thus maintaining a bright start to the league campaign. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this exciting matchup in Ligue 1 this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Marseille don’t face any major injury issues heading into this game. On the contrary, Amine Harit appears to be back to full fitness, which puts him in contention to start on the weekend.
However, it appears unlikely that he will displace any of the two in-form advanced midfielders in Matteo Guendouzi and Dimitri Payet, who has been involved in nine league goals already this season.
Marseille head coach Jorge Sampaoli may also shift back to his 3-4-2-1 formation for better flexibility in the first and second line of press as well as better security in possession. Payet could, therefore, join the frontline striker Arek Milik in the first line of press if required while the onus of controlling things in the middle will be on Valentin Rongier and Boubacar Kamara.
Meanwhile, Konrad de la Fuente and Pol Lirola appear likely to continue as wingbacks, with Lirola set to be given the more defensive responsibilities, as he looks to aid the three-man backline consisting of Duje Caleta-Car, William Saliba and Luan Peres.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Lopez; Saliba, Caleta-Car, Peres; Lirola, Kamara, Rongier, de la Fuente; Guendouzi, Payet; Milik
Mauricio Pochettino is set to face a few issues with his personnel heading into this game, with Leandro Paredes and Sergio Ramos remaining on the sidelines while Neymar and Mauro Icardi are doubts.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 23, 2021
Fortunately for the Argentine tactician, star recruit Lionel Messi showcased excellent form in the Champions League and has linked up extremely well alongside Kylian Mbappe in these early stages of the campaign. Their combination could once again play a vital role as PSG look to dismantle the Marseille backline.
With Neymar unlikely to start, though, Pochettino might end up deploying Messi in a false nine, with Angel Di Maria and Mbappe operating out on the wings.
In midfield, the combination of Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye and Marco Veratti have looked the strongest so far, as they provide excellent versatility, aggression and stability in possession. But with Gini Wijnaldum constantly pushing for a start, they will need to perform well, especially against a Marseille team that has the likes of Guendouzi and Kamara.
Defensively, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi are favourites to occupy the fullback roles while the continued absence of Ramos means Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos will spearhead the PSG backline, covering Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Gueye, Verratti, Herrera; Di Maria, Messi, Mbappe
- Marseille have lost 21 of their 40 games against PSG in Ligue 1 in the 21st century (W11 D8). PSG are the only team that have won more than 50% of their games against OM in the top-flight over that period.
- Marseille have conceded at least two goals in each of their last eight home games against PSG in Ligue 1 (20 goals in all), their worst such run at home against a single opponent in the top-flight.
- PSG have gained 74 points in Ligue 1 in 2021 (W24 D2 L5), at least nine more than any other team.
- PSG have lost only one of their last 13 away games in Ligue 1 (W11 D1), but it was the most recent one at Rennes on October 3rd.
- Marseille have conceded only seven goals after nine games in Ligue 1 this season, their lowest tally at this stage since 2013/14.
Player to Watch
Lionel Messi is due a big haul in the Ligue 1, having failed to register a goal or assist since joining PSG in the summer. He has featured in three matches so far, and despite being influential in all of them, he is yet to get his name on the scoresheet.
At the same time, the Argentine has performed extremely well in the Champions League, scoring three goals in three matches. He will be looking to replicate that productivity in this upcoming contest against Marseille, with Le Classique giving him the ideal opportunity to mark his arrival in the league.
Furthermore, the prospect of Messi linking up with Mbappe could be another entertaining one for the PSG fans as well as the neutral while Neymar, too, is hoping to get in on the act.
Marseille 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Marseille have defended really well under the leadership of Sampaoli. But this weekend, they will be up against a tough customer, in the form of the mighty PSG side that are spearheaded by the likes of Messi and Mbappe. While the hosts certainly have what it takes to contain the opposition, the visitors do have the advantage of being the more in-form team.
Indeed, Les Parisiens boast excellent attacking quality in their ranks while their fullbacks are well capable of breaching the lines of the opposition defences. As such, the Hard Tackle is predicting a win for Pochettino’s men this weekend.