What: French Ligue 1
Who: Marseille vs Paris Saint-Germain
When: Sunday 27th November, 2011, at 20:00 UK time
Where: Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France

Bad Times

Twelve points off Paris Saint-Germain’s mark, Marseille will be hoping to end a bad week on a high note and defeat their bitter foes in the 77th edition of “Le Classique”.

While PSG have shown to be the best side in France so far, Marseille will rely on recent memorable clashes with the capital outfit for motivation in order to come out victorious in the country’s most watched football rivalry.

The 2009/10 Ligue 1 winners have travelled a long way since lifting the trophy a year and a half ago, finishing second last term, but struggling to show their true colours this time around, unable to keep with the league’s front-runners.

Despite improving somewhat from a poor start, Marseille’s aspirations for the season have hit turbulence again of late with consecutive losses to Montpellier and Olympiacos; the result against the Greek side having left coach Didier Deschamps in an embarrassed state.

“Obviously this is a big disappointment compared to the importance of this game. Unfortunately, the collective performance was poor compared to the challenge of this game.” commented Deschamps. “We’ll have to digest it [the defeat] and then we will switch to what awaits us on Sunday.”

New French Order

There are new players in the French system. Under the guidance of the Qatar Investment Authority – a company close to the Qatari royal family – PSG appear to have their fist firmly clenched on Ligue 1’s throat this term, having already defeated rivals such as Montpellier, Toulouse and Lyon. With these results, a win for PSG at the Stade Velodrome be the perfect continuation of a trend of dominance.

Despite this, the future of coach Antoine Kombouare has been up in the air, even with the club topping Ligue 1. Talk of a reunion at “Les Parisiens” between sporting director Leonardo and his former coach at AC Milan, Carlo Ancelotti, without a club ever since his dismissal as Chelsea manager have swirled.

These were whispers that Leonardo was quick to dismiss for the immediate future however: “Kombouare is the coach. If we lose in Marseille, he will still be the coach…We have never thought about hiring Carlo Ancelotti now. Later? I do not know.” concluded the former Rossoneri midfielder.

The uncertainty over the identity of the club’s long term coach will quickly need to be put to rest though should the team want to aim for the higher rankings amongst Europe’s elite sides.   

Recent form

Marseille 2-0 Nice (06/11; Ligue 1)
Montpellier 1-0 Marseille
(19/11; Ligue 1)
Marseille 0-1 Olympiacos
(23/11; Champions League)

Paris Saint-Germain:
Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Slovan Bratislava (03/11; Europe League)
Bordeaux 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain (06/11; Ligue 1)
Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 Nancy (20/11; Ligue 1)

Key absences

Marseille: Rod Fanni; Jeremy Morel (doubt)

Paris Saint-Germain: Clement Chantome; Guillaume Hoarau

Players to watch

Marseille – Steve Mandanda: The team’s captain was the only player who had a good showing against Olympiacos on Wednesday night, and had it not been for his heroics between the sticks, the result would have been even worse than the eventual 1-0 loss. More of the same will be needed against PSG.

Paris Saint-Germain – Javier Pastore: The playmaker was intended to be the team’s focal point following his big-money move from Palermo – and he has not disappointed. Playing his first French derby, Pastore will have to do what he does best in order to grant his team the win.

Match Prediction

Marseille do not appear ready for what is France’s biggest rivalry, even if it is taking place on their own turf. Paris Saint-Germain have more form and momentum and are in line to return home with the full spoils.

Where will your money go in this fierce Ligue 1 rivalry between Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain? Make sure you visit OLBG for tips and to compare the current odds and betting markets available at all the important bookmakers.