Heading into what was arguably the most important El Classico fixture in years, Elie Baup opted to keep Loic Remy on the bench and start the injury prone Kassim Abdallah. This was a risky thing to do but one can only presume that his fitness levels were better than anticipated. There were no other surprises in the OM line-up as they prepared to do battle with their bitterest rivals.
All the goals came in the first half, but the scoreline masked the tight nature of the match. This was not a game full of many chances and as expected both sides were quite cautious, perhaps afraid to lose. Nevertheless, it didn’t prevent goals from being scored. The opening exchanges were fairly even, maybe OM had the slight edge. Gignac had already fired over the bar before emotionally giving OM the lead in the 17th minute. It was an excellent finish across the keeper and a massive goal for Gignac considering the circumstances.
Already, this seemed like it could be a potential repeat of last season’s fixture which OM won 3-0. In that game, PSG were also favourites but they completely bombed out under high expectations. Following VA’s 4-1 victory against OM the week before, a lot of people were predicting that Paris come to the south coast and inflict more misery on Le Phoceen, but so far it was the hosts who had the upper hand. PSG didn’t really play that well here and OM might well have gone on to win something like 2-0 or 3-0 had it not been for one man.
Sadly, PSG do have the best player in Ligue 1, perhaps even one of the best players in the world at their disposal. At times he is considered ‘lazy and selfish’ by some people, justifiably so in some instances. But there’s no doubt that when he’s ‘up for it’ and in the mood, there are few players better in the game than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Here at Le Stade Velodrome he completely turned the game on its head in the space of 3 minutes by scoring a ‘ridiculous’ brace.
The equaliser was from a corner when he sent an insane backheeled volley into the roof of the net, Mandanda was powerless to resist. The OM custodian was then beaten from over 30 yards out just a couple of minutes later when Zlatan curled home a long range free kick into the bottom left corner. Perhaps you could argue that no keeper should be beaten from so far out, but there amount of curve and swerve on the ball was incredible. PSG were amazingly ahead and the Velodrome was silenced, the visitors were in the ascendancy.
Understandably, a lot of OM fans were in shock, but credit to the players because they didn’t let these two hammer blows affect them negatively. They got on with their football and tried to get back into the match, crucially an equaliser came before half time. From a corner, Gignac rose superbly to heads past Sirigu and the hitman grabbed his 2nd of the night. ‘Le Bigmac’ has been in excellent form this season but you sense he really came of age here even more, to score a brace on the biggest of stages and such a crucial time really does show what a changed player he is now.
The 1st half had been pretty tight and congested, despite what the scoreline suggested. After the break, the game really petered out into a damp squid and not much happened. Chances were few and far between, with PSG perhaps shading them. Kevin Gameiro wasted their best opportunity but blazed over the bar. Overall, a draw was the fair outcome here and a point can be considered a decent return for OM, especially after they found themselves 1-2 down. There are plenty of positives to be taken out of the game and Elie Baup’s men maintain their position at the top of the ligue 1 table.
Despite having easily the best side in the ligue on paper, after 8 games it certainly looks like PSG wont cakewalk the title as most people expected.