Le Classique… with added spice
By D. Crossan
The eyes of the footballing world will be on the Parc des Princes on Sunday evening when Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain host Olympique de Marseille in Le Classique.
It will be the 93rd meeting of the two clubs in all competitions with PSG having won 39 times, OM 33 times with 20 draws. OM have won 10 times at PSG but not since February 2010 when they were 3-0 victors and went on to claim the Ligue 1 Conforama trophy under Didier Deschamps.
Germain: "We want to shake them up"
OM's form forward Valère Germain, the scorer of six league goals in his last ten appearances, hopes the club can build on their fine display at the Orange Vélodrome last October when the sides drew 2-2 and OM were in front twice. Speaking before Thursday night's Europa League game at Braga, the former Monaco forward told radio station RMC: "Anything is possible in a single match. We know it will be a huge match. I don't know if it's a good time to play them as they'll want to play really well against OM to make up for their match at Real Madrid, even if that tie's not over. We'll go into the game with the same spirit we showed in the first meeting this season. We want to shake them up and press them, we want to give it a go and we want to win."
OM and PSG have something in common; neither club has lost in the league since falling to Olympique Lyonnais. In OM's case it was a 2-0 defeat in Lyon in Week 18, while PSG fell 2-1 at Groupama Stadium in Week 22.
PSG have the advantage of having had a clear midweek, while the majority of OM's first-choice team - even if Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet were on the bench - started at Braga on Thursday evening. That extra freshness could prove crucial in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the Parc des Princes on Sunday. The two clubs will meet again in the same stadium in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France three days later.
Areola: "When you're Parisian you know what rivalry represents"
Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, a club youth product, cannot wait for Le Classique to come around. He said: "When we know Le Classique is coming, we really start looking forward to playing. We want to play, and to win, because we're playing Marseille. When you're Parisian, you know what this rivalry represents. We want to be able to say the next day: we won!"
PSG have not lost at home in the league since falling to Monaco in March 2016, allowing Areola to make the following big statement: "Nobody wins when they visit the Parc." Areola continued: "It's better when there so much at stake in the standings as well. It adds a little more spice. We know it will be a top match that will be decided on the little details. We got a 2-2 draw away and now we want to show that we're the better side."
The double encounter with in-form OM provides PSG with high-level opposition leading into the decisive second leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie against Real Madrid. Areola said: "It's the opportunity for us to show how good our supporters are and how strong we are together. This chemistry between the fans and the players is very important. We need to show that we are together, that we want to beat every team that comes to the Parc des Princes."
Paris Saint-Germain: Aréola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva (c), Kurzawa; Lo Celso, Diarra, Rabiot; Mbappé, Cavani, Neymar Jr
Olympique de Marseille: Pelé; Sakai, Rami, Rolando, Amavi; Zambo Anguissa, Luiz Gustavo; Thauvin, Payet (c), Ocampos; Germain