Tag Archives: Le classique

PSG 2-0 Marseille – Unlucky defeat in Paris ends title hopes for OM

OM dropped out of the title race as they suffered a defeat away against bitter rivals PSG on Sunday night (0-2). It was a flattering win for the hosts and OM outplayed their star studied opponents for most of the game. However, at this stage of the season its results that matter the most, and the visitors failed to deliver in this crucial department.

The night will be remembered mostly for the hype of David Beckham. He was on the bench for PSG and was almost assured of coming on at some point. The whole media frenzy surrounding Beckham was embarrassing to say the least. At any possible opportunity the cameras were showing him sitting on the bench. It was as if the match actually took 2nd stage compared to the old dinosaur that he is.

Lucky deflection for PSG

On the field, OM suffered the worst possible start when Lucas Moura’s shot was deflected into the net by N’Koulou. The effort was going well wide and it was a very fortunate goal for PSG, but they were ahead. The hosts enjoyed their best spell at the start of the game and were the better side for the first 20 mins or so. Lavezzi had hit the post as early as the 1st minute and they looked pretty dangerous going forwards on the counter attack.

Gradually, OM came back into the game more though and by halftime were certainly looking like the most likely side to score the next goal. Elie Baup’s side were exploiting plenty of space on the wings, but sadly none of the wide players could put in enough quality deliveries. Mathieu Valbuena was imperious in the middle of the park for OM and was arguably the best man on the field.

OM always looked vulnerable on the counter attack though and their defensive line was simply too high for most of the match, especially in the first half. Key players such as Mandanda and N’Koulou simply weren’t performing to their capabilities either. The latter arguably produced the worst 45 minutes he’s ever had in an OM shirt and he was simply shambolic before the interval. The own goal was unfortunate, but it rather summed him up in the first half.

2nd half domination, but all in vain

After the break, OM dominated proceedings and clearly outplayed PSG, but they couldn’t find a way to get back level. They ran into a complete brick wall in the form of Salvatore Sirigu who made several outstanding saves to keep his side in front. Gignac was twice denied superbly, although on the first of these occasions perhaps the ex Toulouse man should’ve tucked the ball away. Andre Ayew thought he’d scored late on thanks to a fine looping header, but at the last moment Sirigu managed to somehow claw the ball away. It was very frustrating for OM who definitely deserved to get back level and weren’t rewarded for their efforts.

Clearly at HT some things had been said in the dressing room and a number of players came out after the break looking distinctly better. N’Koulou looked at his imperious best again, Barton controlled the midfield and made a number of excellent passes. Valbuena maintained his level and was the heartbeat of the side going forward, whilst Andre Ayew battled really hard on the left hand side with purpose fight and determination. What OM lacked was that bit of extra quality, especially in the wide areas where they had chances to hurt PSG. The wingers and full backs just failed to deliver enough decent balls into the middle and PSG were usually able to clear easily from most crosses. Les Phoceens were also extremely wasteful from the number of set pieces they had, often from excellent positions.

PSG rubbed salt into the wound when Ibrahimovic grabbed a 2nd goal in stoppage time. It was far more than they deserved, especially in the case of Zlatan who had a very quiet game and gave OM few problems. All the talk and hype will be of David Beckham’s involvement in the goal after he came on in the 76th minute. Time will tell if he’ll be much use to PSG on the field, although nobody can deny he will certainly be an asset for them off it.

Title race over, despite good performance

Overall this was a harsh defeat for OM, but also a crucial one. This was probably their best display of 2013 so far, and certainly their most committed. But this match was never going to be about who played the best, the key was getting a result. At the end of the day, PSG have picked up the 3 points and managed to find a way to win. OM need to ask themselves why they allowed this to happen and to make sure in the future they learn from this loss. The title is now out of reach for Elie Baup’s men, but they still have everything to play for this season, starting with another fixture against PSG in the Coupe de France in midweek.

This defeat hurts a lot, largely because it was undeserved. What OM need to do is bottle up this pain and disappointment, and make sure they use it as a positive for the future. They have to learn from this loss and next time make sure they don’t suffer the same outcome.

Come back stronger

To quote the great NFL linebacker Ray Lewis who made this inspirational speech following the Ravens’ emotional AFC Championship loss against the New England Patriots in Jan 2012

“We’ve got to come back and go to work, to make sure we finish it next time. This right here makes us stronger. Let’s understand who we are as a team. Let’s understand who we are as men. And let’s make somebody smile when we walk out of here. We’ve got the opportunity to keep going, men. Let’s be stronger as a team, man. Let’s be who we are.”

This was one of the great speeches I heard, and it worked. The following year the Ravens returned and went onto win the Superbowl. OM need this sort of spirit now and to come back stronger.

OM player ratings

Mandanda 4/10 – Lacked communication and authority at times.

Fanni 5/10 – Provided energy and drive, but his final ball and crosses were poor.

N’Koulou 4/10 – Complete Jekyll and Hyde performance. He was awful before HT, but excellent after it.

Mendes 4/10 – Without being too bad, he was never particularly convincing.

Morel 4/10 – Got into some good wide positions but wasted opportunities

Barton 7/10 -After a fairly quiet first half, he controlled the midfield after the break and became a key player.

Romao 4/10 – Had a match riddled with errors in the 2nd half especially, didn’t particularly shine.

Andre Ayew 6/10 – Fought very hard for the cause and was unlucky not to score

Kadir 5/10 – Not too bad, but one senses he is still settling in at OM and there is more to come from him.

Valbuena 8/10 – He was superb and the heartbeat of the side. Passed the ball beautifully and always a threat.

Gignac 4/10 – Should’ve scored at least once and really needs to hit the back of the net in fixtures like this.

Le Classique part 3 – psg v Marseille – 24/02/13 – Match Preview

psg  v OM

Sun 24/02/13 – 20:00 (UK – Live on ESPN Classic)

Parc des Princes, Paris

Ref. – Fredy Fautrel

Background –

Had this game been scheduled to take place last weekend the result may have been a forgone conclusion in most people’s eyes. Having only won one of 5 games since the winter break, Marseille’s unlikely title challenge looked to be over as they sat 8 points away from the seemingly unstoppable PSG, who had not suffered defeat since the beginning of December. But a late winner from Rod Fanni for OM and a shock defeat for PSG at the hands of relegation threatened Sochaux has seemingly seen the Ligue 1 title race thrown back open. A win for Marseille would put them within 2 points of PSG, who could be equalled on points by Lyon too. The 3rd classique of the season and perhaps the most important.

Marseille –

After struggling for consistent form since the winter break the last minute win over Valenciennes may give Marseille a much needed confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s game against psg. Lacking their usual clinical finishing, Marseille squandered a number of good chances in a game that ultimately sounded a great deal closer than it actually was. It is unlikely that psg will concede the number of chances they offered to Sochaux to another team, so Gignac and co best make sure they have packed their shooting boots for the trip to the capital.

Elie Baup is without the services of Jordan Ayew (suspension), Morgan Amalfitano (injury) and Benoit Cheyrou (thigh injury), but can welcome back Kassim Abdallah to bolster his substitution and defensive options. Other than this he has a full strength squad at his disposal. The full squad thathas travelled to Paris is made up of: Mandanda, Samba, Fanni, Abdallah, Diawara, Nkoulou, Mendes, Morel, Aloe, Romao, Barton, Abdullah, Valbuena, A. Ayew, Kadir, Gignac, Sougou and Anani. Having impressed in games so far Romao and Kadir will be likely to keep their places hoping to continue to improve their understanding of each other and team mates even further.

Likely starting lineup:
OM v psg

Who are they? –

First are the thoughts of psg fan Ross Mackiewicz (Follow on twitter @RossMackiewicz) –
‘Putting the rivalry aside, this is an exciting time for both clubs as we embark on the start of a double-bill in the league and cup. It really is a treat for fans of French football in general and one they should relish. From a Parisien perspective we need to bounce back after – I would say – our worst performance of the season away to Sochaux last weekend. You could tell the midweek game in Valencia had taken its toll and we looked a shell of the team that played some exhilarating football on that night. Pressure is on us though, a win for OM will put them three points off us and that will certainly put them well and truly back in the title hunt. It is a defining one for both clubs in truth. A win for either will have implications and Lyon will be watching with interest also. I just hope the possible debut of David Beckham does not make any minds wander in the PSG dressing room and attention is solely fixated on the job in hand. Marseille will be hoping otherwise of course. May the best team win!’

Having overcome media-spun crisis after crisis this season after the odd poor result, Marseille take on psg amid full flow of the Beckham driven media circus as the ‘angel’ of English football looks set to make his psg debut at some point on Sunday. As many have eluded to, Beckham offers any club a number of things; experience, class, skill; however, it is difficult to see what he adds to the current psg first team that any other player wouldn’t offer with a little more pace and exuberance.

Confirmed absentees for Carlo Ancelotti are Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva and Mamadou Sakho. These leave psg a little short at the back with the likely centre back pairing of Armand and Alex lacking in pace.

The main danger psg still possess comes in the form of Ibra. Although it is unlikely that OM will have improved their defensive discipline in the space of a week, the quality of Ibra will not have been lost on Nkoulou and Mandanda since their encounter at the Velodrome in October. His awareness allowed him to beat Nkoulou to the ball to stab home his opening goal, and his power drove home his second direct from a free kick that (if you were harsh you would say) the wall should have blocked or Mandanda could have got a hand to. As shown a number of times though Ibra is as susceptible as our own Joey Barton to allowing the ‘red mist’ to descend. Perhaps as Ibra drops deep it may be Barton who gets close to him and works some of his ‘British charm’ on the big guy in order to try and throw him off his game. It would be a poor decision if this was the only plan that Baup had so thankfully there are a few other areas that OM can look to exploit.

As Sochaux demonstrated last week, psg are often vulnerable to counter attacks (this was how Gignac netted his first at the Velodrome). Sochaux also demonstrated psg’s defensive frailties through awareness of positions and movement. The space afforded to them in the psg box when players drifted wide and then attacked through the centre was hauntingly familiar to the way OM have been attacked in the past.

As MarseilleUK’s Steve eluded to in his statistical preview of this game for Just Football, psg have not picked up the results type of results they would like against sides currently in Ligue 1’s top 10. Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and perhaps surprisingly, Lorient have all picked up more points per game against the current top 10 than psg. This perhaps gives OM a slight edge in performance tables, however, given the home advantage and current general form it woulod be foolish to suggest that psg have anything but the upper hand.


Summary –

For the benefit of the Ligue I hope for what would be considered a shock Marseille win. To have potentially only 2 points separating the top 3 teams with 12 games remaining would be a fantastic advertisement for French football. This would make it more competitive than any of the other ‘top’ leagues in Europe (Points separating Top 3 teams: Germany – 16; Spain – 16; England – 16; Italy – 11).

Above all though, a competitive match would be requested. Along with the minimal points separating the top teams, we need some of the top matches to provide a ‘wow’ factor. Most of you reading this, will be reading it because of your love of French football and the Ligue in general. Like me, you will seek out match reports, read reviews and watch highlights of the dullest 0-0 draws, just because you love the ligue. Unfortunately ESPN have opted to show the Milan derby and I can understand their choice. But I would love have the satisfaction that we all watched our dodgy internet streams for a game that had more depending on it, and was more entertaining than Gladbach v Dortmund, Man City v Chelsea, Inter v AC, Barca v Sivilla and Athletico Madrid v Espanyol combined!

Predicted score: psg 1v2 Marseille (hopeful, but what the hell!)

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

psg 1.50

Draw 3.80

Marseille 7.50

Other Ligue 1 games

Nice 2-0 Reims

Rennes 2v2 Sochaux

Ajaccio 1v3 Lille

Evian 0v1 Montpellier

Nancy 0v3 Saint-Etienne

Valenciennes 0v0 Toulouse

Lyon v Lorient

Bordeaux v Brest

Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)

OM 2-2 PSG – Gignac vs Zlatan honours end even

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.

Goals & Highlights

Marseille v psg – Match Preview

Sun 07/10/12 – 20:00 (UK)

Stade Velodrome, Marseille

Ref. – Tony Chapron

Background –

Marseille are looking to get their ligue form back in business in the first, of at least 3, Le Classique’s of the season. The 1-4 defeat to Valenciennes last week came as a huge shock to all and abruptly ended Marseille’s perfect start to the season. However, while psg where defeated by Porto in midweek European competitions, Marseille thrashed Cypriot opposition, AEL, 5-1 at the Velodrome, a result that should restore some of the squad’s confidence ahead of this weekend’s key fixture. The same fixture last season came amid Marseille’s one bright patch of results and OM sent the Parisians packing after a 3-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Remy, Amalfitano and Andre Ayew.

Marseille –

Having started the season well, picking up wins in all ligue games through a mixture of good play, grit and determination, the Valenciennes defeat came as a huge blow to OM. The victory over AEL, although not convincing in parts, certainly showed just how clinical Marseille can be with converting chances, something they will need to show again against psg.

After missing out on Thursday’s game as a precautionary measure, both Cheyrou and Amalfitano return to the squad, and probably the starting 11. The full squad consists of: Mandanda, Bracigliano, Fanni, Abdallah, NKoulou, Mendes, Morel, Mbow, Kabore, Cheyrou, Abdullah, Valbuena, Amalfitano, A. Ayew, Raspentino, Gignac, J. Ayew and Remy.

Having returned from injury Abdallah may be given a starting berth at right back, whereas on the left, despite a very impressive debut against AEL, Lucas Mendes may me dropped for the more experienced Jeremy Morel. Cheyrou and Abdullah will make up Marseille’s defensive midfield with the attacking 4 coming through the restored Amalfitano, Valbuena, Andre Ayew and Gignac.

One of Marseille’s best attacking threats this season has been Morgan Amalfitano. He has been more dedicated to taking on players, dribbling past them and firing in some excellent crosses. In most games when he has started well, OM have targeted their oppositions left-flank and psg should be no exception. Despite his strengths, Maxwell, could be a player that Amalfitano enjoys some success against. Should Maxwell, cause problems then the support of Valbuena will assist OM in their attacking positions with his ability to drive through into the channels, or drop behind our wide midfielders and provide a cross from a deeper position.

Who are they? –

After a summer of spending the sort of money that most clubs can only dream about nowadays, Carlo Ancelotti is finally reaping the rewards of this as psg have remained undefeated this season, despite a rather stuttering start. In the 3 draws that opened their season against Lorient, Ajaccio and Bordeaux, psg struggled to create and take their goal scoring chances, something that they have since made up for in abundance. During this period, they also appeared to be rather shaky in defence, often relying on the dependable Sirigu to rescue them, however since the inclusion of Thiago Silva in the squad, there appears to be a little more defensive stability from the Parisians.

With Ancelotti’s 4-3-1-2 formation, a great deal of the psg play often comes down the centre of the field, and with players like Pastore, Matuidi, Menez and Ibrahimovic at his disposal, who can blame him? This should provide a really interesting battle between the sides, as Marseille have generally attacked with width this season and then defended as a more compact, central unit, pushing the opposition wide. This is something that psg will have to overcome is they are to pick up only their second victory in 9 years at the Velodrome.

The main threat for psg is undoubtedly charismatic mercenary, ahem (sorry), charismatic talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Having won the domestic league for almost every team he has played for, ‘Ibra’ has intentions of ensuring that he adds the Ligue 1 title to his list in his debut French season. The tall Swede has 8 goals to his name this campaign, 7 in the ligue. The problem he will pose for OM, will depend on how OM press psg further up the field. If psg are put under pressure into their own half, an escape route might be a long, high ball up the pitch, which Ibrahimovic is more than capable of winning in the air before laying off team mates. In these circumstances, Fanni, being the taller, should look to win the ball against Ibra, as this also allows the more positionally astute Nkoulou, to track any runs from team-mates latching onto passes or flick-ons. If the ball is played to Ibra on the ground, then the more ‘composed’ tackler, Nkoulou could look to get close to him and make sure that by the end of the game Ibrahimovic certainly does know who Nkoulou is.

As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of Thiago Silva, has certainly helped to improve the look of the psg defence, however, one of their criticisms, has still been the amount of opportunities they allow the opposition to create. Despite their reputation, Marseille have actually been quite clinical in games this season, the games against Evian and AEL showing that perfectly. Marseille playing to their own strengths of attacking width and defensive constriction should provide psg with enough to worry about.


Summary –

Despite the fact that the two teams provide a number of opposites for each other both on and off the field at present, I hope that during this game the two teams don’t simply cancel each other out. Also, despite the fact that this game won’t be aired live in the UK, it could provide Ligue 1 with some much needed positive publicity as a number of their live games this season have hardly been classics. In this, Le Classique, the top of the ligue awaits the victors, along with much needed bragging rights, and confidence ahead of the Coupe de la Ligue match in 3 weeks’ time in Paris. This will be a close game, but just as the occasion got to psg last season, the mentality and stability of Marseille this season along with the occasion, might just be enough to see OM through.

Predicted score: Marseille 2v1 psg

Odds (Bet365.com correct at time of publication)

Marseille 2.88

Draw 3.20

AEL 2.50


Allez l’OM

Swanny (@MarseilleUK & @Andrew_Js3)


Other Ligue 1 games

Saint-Etienne 4v0 Nancy

Montpellier 2v3 Evian

Reims 3v1 Nice

Toulouse 2v2 Valenciennes

Bastia 3v2 Troyes

Sochaux 0v1 Rennes

Lille 2v0 Ajaccio

Brest v Bordeaux

Lorient v Lyon

Coupe de la Ligue Draw

After the midweek set of matches the draw was made on Wednesday evening for the next round of the Coupe de la Ligue, and it certainly did not disappoint for those who were eagerly waiting to see if Marseille could make it an unprecedented 4 titles in a row in the competition. Marseille were drawn away to psg in what was surely the pick of the round.
The game will be played in Paris just over 3 weeks after the two teams meet in Marseille in the Ligue. psg will undoubtedly wish to stop Marseille from winning the trophy for the 4th time in row and will hope that they can effectively buy their own piece of history, just as they are trying in the Ligue.
Below is around up of all the Couoe de la Ligue games, which will be played over the 30th-31st October.

Montpellier v Bordeaux
Bastia v Auxerre
psg v OM
Monaco v Troyes
Lille v Toulouse
Rennes v Arles Avignon
Nice v Lyon
Sochaux v Saint-Etienne