SPIRO: Perennial winner Evra braced for 'Classique'

Ligue 1 Conforama > Spiro Blog

By M. Spiro

Patrice Evra's experience, unwavering confidence and winning mentality will be valuable assets for Olympique de Marseille against Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, writes Ligue1.com's Matthew Spiro.

With Sunday's huge, mouth-watering clash looming large, Patrice Evra was in typically confident, defiant mood at Marseille's 'La Commanderie' training ground this week.

At 35, the France defender is chomping at the bit ahead of his Classique debut, convinced his new team can trouble the champions. "Marseille will be hungrier than Paris," he promised. "PSG are favourites, maybe they have a better team, but if they think it will be easy then we will use that to win the game."

Aging like wine?

Just four appearances into his OM career, Evra is talking the talk but must still convince observers that he has the legs to perform. After a shaky display at FC Nantes, parallels were made with Bixente Lizarazu, another decorated left-back who joined OM at a similar stage of his career and flunked.

Yet I can assure you - having spent 30 minutes in his engaging company on Tuesday - there isn't even the slightest doubt in his own mind. "When people saw Patrice Evra is joining Marseille they thought 'wow, something big is being built here," he enthused in an exclusive interview for the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "When I arrived I felt like a hero. Everyone wanted me here."

Decorated player

It's this extreme self-confidence (which borders on arrogance) that has propelled Evra to remarkable heights in his career. He is a very good left-back, certainly, but many more talented players have achieved a good deal less. The former France skipper has played in five UEFA Champions League finals, won five English Premier League trophies and back-to-back doubles in Italy.

Yes, he likes himself, but the ex-AS Monaco, Manchester United FC and Juventus ace arrives in Marseille a proven winner. Whatever people think about his brazen, often confrontational persona, nobody can argue with his track record. "In his book, (Sir Alex) Ferguson names only five leaders. There was Bryan Robson, and there was me," he said. "I was the only one from the new generation."

Evra is a proud man and rightly so. He has played and won trophies alongside some of the best players in the modern era. He emerged as the leader in a dressing room packed full of leaders at Old Trafford. He will be an asset to Marseille, starting this Sunday night when, in the high-octane, emotion-charged Vélodrome, belief will be just as important as ability.

Big-game experience

Evra's big-match experience - he played 19 Manchester United-Liverpool FC games and invariably excelled in them - will be precious. "When we played at Anfield, it was unbelievable. You could really feel the hate in the stands. If we lost to Liverpool, we wouldn't see Ferguson for a whole week. Is PSG-OM the same? I will get the taste on Sunday and I will let you know after the game."

So what will be the key winning? "Look, I don't want to sell dreams to all the fans and say we are going to win this game," Evra said. "But when we play this game I want them to be proud of us. I can lose a game, but if I don't give everything I will be ashamed when I get home."

>> FEATURE PREVIEW: Can OM prove they are a Classique act?

>> PLAYER PROFILE: Patrice Evra

>> CLUB PROFILE: Olympique de Marseille

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