Paris Saint-Germain host their fierce rivals Marseille in a meeting between two of Ligue 1’s top three on Sunday night.
To compound the latest melodrama engulfing the Parisian giants, Christophe Galtier’s side come into the derby in stuttering form, drawing their last three matches across all competitions. Marseille had matched PSG stride for stride to start the campaign until they fell to a shock defeat at home to newly promoted Ajaccio last weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 103rd iteration of Le Classique.
PSG: 3 Wins
Marseille: 1 Win
The sight of Lionel Messi back in training ahead of the biggest domestic game of the season was heartily welcomed in the French capital. The Argentine had missed the club’s previous two matches with a calf strain which he appears to have recovered from.
Renato Sanches has also resumed training but Sergio Ramos will play no part in the latest edition of this rivalry after a quick-fire pair of yellow cards against Reims last weekend.
Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes look set to remain on the sidelines with hamstring injuries.
PSG Starting 11 (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Mukiele, Marquinhos, Danilo; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Bernat; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar.
Bench: Navas, Rico, Ruiz, Soler, Bitshiabu, Zaire-Emery, Sanches, Ekitike, Sarabia.
Igor Tudor admitted: “I see that all my players want to play, and this makes me happy.” Aside from Sead Kolasinac, who is struggling with a thigh strain, the former Juventus assistant manager should have a full squad of eager players to choose from.
Marseille Starting 11 (3-4-2-1): Lopez; Mbemba, Balerdi, Gigot; Clauss, Rongier, Veretout, Tavares; Guendouzi, Payet; Sanchez.
Bench: Blanco, Gerson, Bailly, Suarez, Dieng, Under, Harit, Gueye, Kabore.
Marseille were PSG’s closest challengers last season and despite an upheaval of personnel on the pitch and in the dugout, they once again are set to push the Parisians closer than any other club. However, even with the second-biggest budget in Ligue 1, Marseille’s wage bill is still seven and a half times smaller than PSG’s.
Nevertheless, Tudor’s side have adapted swiftly to his idiosyncratic style. PSG will invariably try to pick their way through Marseille’s aggressive press in the middle third and are littered with enough talent to weave their way through the snapping tackles.
On home turf – and with Messi potentially back in the side – PSG are expected to overpower their historic rivals. However, Marseille may be able to bloody the nose of their upcoming hosts – or at least add to the seven red cards which have been dished out across the last five Classiques.
Prediction: PSG 3-1 Marseille