Olympique de Marseille vs PSG: Preview and Prediction

Ligue 1 giants Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain will face off in the latest installment of Le Classique on the Easter weekend.

The league title may not be on the line in this game, but there is no love lost between Marseille and PSG. And the rivalry will be as fierce as ever, as Stade Velodrome prepares itself for a blockbuster Le Classique this Sunday.

Marseille have all to play for this season as they currently lie seventh in the standings, outside of the usual European qualification positions, with a three-point gap to make up to Lens. Les Phoceens have been through a turbulent campaign, leading to their former manager Gennaro Gattuso parting company with the club.

Jean-Louis Gasset arrived as an unpopular appointment following his striking Ivory Coast sacking midway through the Africa Cup of Nations. However, the unpopular board’s bold decision was vindicated straight away, as Gasset began life with Les Olympiens with an impressive five-game winning streak, and even his first loss in charge—a 3-1 defeat to Villarreal—was insignificant after a 4-0 first-leg victory in their Europa League last-16 clash.

Days later, though, Marseille would fall to a disappointing 2-0 loss to Rennes in top-flight action. So, they will be looking to bounce back to winning ways here. On the other hand, it has been a slow march towards the Ligue 1 title for PSG, who have not been as ruthless as they would like this season.

Despite their somewhat sluggish campaign, riddled with injuries, they remain 12 points clear at the top of the standings. The visitors only just ended a run of three successive Ligue 1 draws with a thumping 6-2 win at Montpellier in their previous fixture. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Olympique de Marseille

The Marseille treatment is filled up to the brim with a raft of injuries to cope with ahead of Sunday’s intriguing derby. But there is not believed to be any chance for winger Ismaila Sarr, who is reportedly out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, to make an early return here.

Right-back Jonathan Clauss picked up a similar issue while on France duty and could also spend a month on the sidelines, joining fellow defenders Michael Amir Murillo (muscle), Samuel Gigot (shoulder), Bamo Meite (ankle), Leonardo Balerdi (fitness), and Ulisses Garcia on the sidelines, as well as knee surgery victim Valentin Rongier and another midfielder in Jean Onana.

This does leave Marseille severely undermanned at the back, with Quentin Merlin and Chancel Mbemba their only two fit natural defenders, though Geoffrey Kondogbia could drop into a defensive role, while Leo Jousselin and Roggerio Nyakossi could make the step up from their B team.

The duo of Azzedine Ounahi and Jordan Veretout should hand Marseille the base needed in midfield to dictate the tempo against a young PSG engine room. Luis Henrique and Amine Harit will function as the wing-backs, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Iliman Ndiaye lining up as the front-two, both of whom can be dangerous on their day.

The former Arsenal hitman has been one of the standout players for Marseille this season and is their leading scorer with 11 Ligue 1 goals. He also has nine goals in the last nine matches across all competitions, so he will enter this game in red-hot form.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Lopez; Mbemba, Balerdi, Merlin; Harit, Kondogbia, Ounahi, Veretout, Henrique; Aubameyang, Ndiaye

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG are dealing with a defensive crisis of their own, as Milan Skriniar (ankle), Presnel Kimpembe, and captain Marquinhos (both Achilles) are all on the sidelines, as is out-of-favour left-back Layvin Kurzawa.

Further forward, the tricky Bradley Barcola picked up a hamstring injury while turning out for the France Under-23s and is thought to be facing weeks in the treatment room, joining fellow thigh casualty Marco Asensio. Barcola’s fresh issue opens the door for Goncalo Ramos to return to PSG’s attacking triumvirate alongside the French duo of Randal Kolo Muani and the exit-linked Mbappe.

Despite having a host of defensive absentees, Luis Enrique is likely to deploy his side in the favoured 4-3-3 formation. Gianluigi Donnarumma should start in goal with the quartet of Achraf Hakimi, Lucas Beraldo, Danilo Pereira, and Nuno Mendes in defence.

Uruguay international Manuel Ugarte should return to the apex of the midfield, with Vitinha and Lee Kang-in flanking him in a narrow midfield three. The trio’s compactness and chemistry will give the attack-minded full-backs the freedom to push forward on the flanks and provide overloads.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Pereira, Beraldo, Mendes; Lee, Ugarte, Vitinha; Kolo Muani, Ramos, Mbappe

Key Stats

  • Paris Saint-Germain are undefeated in their last 21 Ligue 1 matches.
  • PSG have not lost to Marseille in Ligue 1 since 2020, and they have won 23 of their last 28 matches against Marseille in all competitions.
  • Luis Enrique’s side have drawn three of their last four league games.
  • Marseille are one of the most productive teams in the championship in terms of yellow cards, with an average of 1.7 yellow cards per game.
  • Unbeaten in their 13 home games, Marseille have won eight and drawn five this season, conceding just seven.

Player to Watch

Kylian Mbappe

Embed from Getty Images

As always, Kylian Mbappe will be the one to watch for PSG as he looks to add to his 24 Ligue 1 goals and a total of 38 goals in 37 matches for the club this season, despite not finishing 90 minutes that often under Luis Enrique. A highly-anticipated showdown between Kylian Mbappe’s potency and Marseille’s makeshift defence could be the deciding factor in this game.


Olympique de Marseille 2-2 PSG

With PSG’s unbeaten streak of 24 matches, it is hard to find a team, especially in Ligue 1, that is able to stop Luis Enrique’s juggernaut. Having said that, Marseille have been the best team at home in Ligue 1. They will be more likely to aim for a draw rather than risk losing points in their tight situation.

Even though PSG will clearly have the Champions League encounter in the back of their minds, they should have enough quality on the pitch to force a draw, which would be a respectable result in a derby inside the volcanic atmosphere at the Velodrome.

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