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Rebounding PSG, resurgent OM: Classic Classique?

Publish on 14/03/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Paris Saint-Germain welcome rivals Olympique de Marseille to the Parc des Princes on Sunday with Kylian Mbappé and Mario Balotelli leading two teams who are out to silence the doubters.

Logo Paris Saint-GermainParis Saint-Germain - Olympique de Marseille 

PSG have been hurtling towards a sixth Ligue 1 Conforama title in seven years and currently lead the chasing pack by 17 points.

Having been edged out of the UEFA Champions League last 16 by Manchester United last Wednesday, Thomas Tuchel's men were keen to lay down a marker in their next outing, though, and that's exactly what they did, beating Dijon FCO 4-0 on Tuesday.

No Neymar, no problem

Neymar Jr. is in Qatar working on his metatarsal injury while Edinson Cavani struggles with a thigh complaint, but PSG retain incredible firepower. Angel Di Maria bagged a goal and an assist at the Stade Gaston Gérard, Mbappé snatched his league-leading 25th goal of the season.

"I was expecting that because the team looked good in training," said Tuchel of PSG's 24th win in 27 league games this term. "We talked a lot. I was very calm and convinced we'd be capable of starting over. We played well, scored four goals and created lots of chances.

"We still have objectives - we want to win the league and the Coupe de France. The supporters were disappointed, like us, but now's the time to show that we're all together. We must accept that the result [against Manchester United] was an accident, stay calm and keep confidence in the team."

Areola preferred to Buffon

Alphonse Areola is expected to keep his place in goal, his clean sheet against Dijon following a difficult night for Gianluigi Buffon in Europe, while Brazil right-back Dani Alves is once again available after serving a suspension.

Seventeen points clear of second-place LOSC, PSG have a 27-point head start on Marseille. Rudi Garcia's side have won five of their last six league games, though - drawing the other - while Mario Balotelli has hit the ground running since his January transfer from OGC Nice.

The Italy striker has scored five goals in seven games to help OM cement their grip on the European places, the most recent of which gave his new side a 1-0 win over his former employers last Sunday.

'Marseille the best club in France'

"I've told my agent that I'm happy here and want to stay," he said. "My first two seasons at Nice were good, but Marseille is on another level, another type of football and atmosphere. As far as I'm concerned, Marseille are the biggest club in France.

"I've always felt that I'd fit in here and I can't explain why. The atmosphere's a bit like Naples. I've said the only Italian club I could play for would be Napoli. It's more or less the same thing at Marseille."

Marseille are at full strength, with Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman's run-out against Nice meaning there is no first-team player still on the injury list, and the visitors will be hopeful of avenging their 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture.

And who knows? Napoli held PSG in Paris earlier this season…

 

Possible line-ups

PSG: Areola; Marquinhos, Silva, Kimpembe; Alves, Paredes, Verratti, Draxler, Bernat; Mbappé, Di Maria

Marseille: Mandanda; Sakai; Kamara, Caleta-Car; Amavi; Thauvin, Lopez, Sanson, Ocampos; Germain, Balotelli