French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are looking for revenge against old rivals Marseille on Sunday night after the southern club’s surprising victory at the Parc des Princes in September.
After an uneven start to their season that saw PSG sack boss Thomas Tuchel replace him with ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Parisians face their former rivals Marseille at the Veodrome on February 7 as they try to bridge their three-point gap with league leaders Lille.
PSG’s biggest star Neymar is back on the team magazine as they aim for a refund tonight, after several days of doubt due to a gastroenteritis.
But the Parisians will have to do without goalkeeper Keylor Navas due to an adduct issue, while all-round defender Thimothée Pembélé is out of the cards after contracting Covid-19.
Like Neymar, midfielder Marco Verratti will play after a new battle with injury, having recently recovered from coronavirus.
Marseille in crisis
The Parisians go to the Mediterranean coast in a completely different context than what saw Marseille stun them at home. At that time, OM – as French fans call them – introduced themselves as title challengers during a child storm season.
But Marseille has since melted. They have not won in a month, with three defeats in a row, including a loss to Nantes at the bottom.
Police made 25 arrests after a group of Marseille ultrasounds stormed the club’s training ground on January 30. After entering the property, they threw projectiles – which gave defender Alvaro Gonzales a back injury – and set off firecrackers and smoke bombs, causing thousands of euros in value damage. The club postponed its meeting with Rennes in the wake of the incident.
While refraining from such violence, many OM fans are tired of the club’s poor performance. Supporters are particularly unhappy with what they see as a lack of investment since US businessman Frank McCourt bought the club in 2016.
Then came a strange incident where Marseille’s board left the club without a manager, who coached coach André Villas-Boas – the well-respected former Chelsea manager – on February 2 instead of accepting his offer to resign after signing Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham. . on loans behind your back. This left the team without a manager.
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With the exception of September’s surprising OM triumph, the current situation is far from the epic PSG-Marseille meetings of the late 80s and 90s, from which their burning rivalry emerged. Marseille was founded in 1899 and was a significant force in the French game for most of the 20th century. PSG was first founded in 1970 – before the innovative manager Gérard Houllier guided them to their first Ligue 1 title in 1986.
But unfortunately for the Parisian side, it was while OM was just entering its golden age.
French businessman and politician Bernard Tapie bought Marseille in 1986. He poured money to recruit top talent such as Ghanaian attacking midfielder Abedi Pelé, French defender Basile Boli and English winger Chris Waddle. Outstanding young players were also cultivated – especially Eric Cantona, Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly, who all became French football symbols.
During the Tapie era, OM won three consecutive Ligue 1 titles from 1989 to 1992, came second in the 1991 European Cup and then won the tournament in its first incarnation as the Champions League in 1993. Marseille at that time were undoubtedly the biggest teams in the history of French football.
Yet their Parisian opponents were still good enough to face stiff competition. Especially towards the end of the 1989-90 season, when Marseille swung to their inevitable victory of the Ligue 1 title, PSG managed to rain on their parade with a 2-1 victory, gifted by a late, good nod from Croatian striker Zlatko Vujovic.
Since 1991, PSG got its own sugar daddy – or rather the sugar group. Canal +, France’s largest pay-TV network, bought the Parisian club and injected the necessary funds to buy talented players such as the Liberian striker George Weah – widely regarded as the greatest African footballer of all time – and the iconic French midfielder David Ginola.
It became clear how much PSG had raised their stakes in a famous match in May 1993, which would determine the season’s Ligue 1 title. At the height of their heyday, Marseille had just returned to France after winning the Champions League.
Flagging after their European victory and celebration, OM initially gave little resistance to a strongly determined PSG side who went 1-0 up in the 8th minute and were unlucky not to have made it a rout. Nevertheless, Marseille soon broke into life and twisted the game with three goals, including an astonishing ensemble effort completed by a Basile Boli nod.
( Jowharwith AFP)