Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Mauricio Pochettino‘s side taught Clermont a footballing lesson in a 6-1 win last time out, while the visitors arrive having just booked their spot in the Europa Conference League semi-finals.
Forced to watch their Champions League rivals battle for places in the final four from the comforts of their living rooms in midweek, PSG’s domestic push is at least gathering momentum once again, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men in ruthless form since the international break.
After putting five past Lorient earlier this month, Les Parisiens went one better by hitting Clermont for six at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied, and it was their famed front three who stole the show, as Kylian Mbappe and Neymar both bagged trebles while Lionel Messi had three assists to his name.
Messi’s distinct lack of goals in his debut Ligue 1 season have been somewhat alarming, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is in a category of his own after registering three assists in a French top-flight game for the second time this season, and Pochettino’s legendary attacking triumvirate is finally beginning to come together.
With only seven games left to play in the 2021-22 season, a 12-point chasm separates champions-elect PSG from their closest challengers Marseille, and Pochettino’s side can therefore take a massive step towards reclaiming what is rightfully theirs with victory in Sunday’s match.
The performances away from home have not always been there for PSG, but the runaway leaders have amassed a staggering 16 wins from their last 17 home matches in the league – including each of their last seven – and the jet lag could be in full effect for their Classique rivals, who will somehow endeavour to hand PSG their first home league defeat of the season.
Electing to rest timeless veteran Dimitri Payet for the Europa Conference League paid dividends for Jorge Sampaoli and Marseille, who could yet end the season with a piece of European silverware to their name after seeing off Greek outfit PAOK in the quarter-finals.
Boasting a 2-1 advantage from the first leg at the Orange Velodrome, Marseille made the 2000km journey to Greece worthwhile as Payet’s 14th goal of the season in all competitions confirmed their place in the final four, where Dutch giants Feyenoord keenly await their arrival.
Victory over PAOK on Thursday night represented an eighth win on the bounce in all competitions for this exciting Marseille side, who have refused to let their European commitments get in the way of their podium push and anticipated return to Europe’s top table in the Champions League.
The gap to PSG may be too steep to make up, but Marseille’s second-placed destiny is firmly in their own hands as they sit three points clear of third-placed Rennes and seven better off than Strasbourg, and back-to-back clean sheets will be welcomed after they failed to record a single shutout in the first six games of their winning run.
Les Olympiens have been a force to be reckoned with away from home ever since the autumn months and have taken 33 points from a possible 45 on rival turf in Ligue 1 – the best record in the entire division – but only one of their last 24 Classique derbies with PSG has ended in victory.
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
Marseille Ligue 1 form:
Marseille form (all competitions):
PSG’s treatment room is suddenly at full capacity again, with Leandro Paredes and Julian Draxler set to miss the rest of the season after operations, and they are being kept company in the medical bay by Ander Herrera, Ismael Gharbi, Layvin Kurzawa and Abdou Diallo.
On a positive note, Angel Di Maria and Keylor Navas have both returned to training to bolster Pochettino’s options, while Marquinhos was rested for the win over Clermont but should make an expected return to the backline here.
Marquinhos’s absence against Les Lanciers saw Sergio Ramos partner Presnel Kimpembe after he became the latest PSG star to be booed by his own supporters, and the Spaniard will likely return to the sidelines for this one.
Marseille were also dealing with a raft of absentees in midweek, but four were due to suspension, as manager Sampaoli, Bamba Dieng, Boubacar Kamara and Gerson all return from European bans for Le Classique.
The well-rested trio of Dieng, Kamara and Gerson will all come into contention for starts amid the long journey home and quick turnaround, but Payet’s 35-year-old legs are unlikely to be rested given the magnitude of this clash.
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Pereira, Gueye, Verratti; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
Marseille possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Rongier, Saliba, Caleta-Car, Peres; Guendouzi, Kamara, Gerson; Under, Dieng, Payet
We say: Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 Marseille
Marseille’s remarkable winning run is something to behold, and they have refused to let the European fatigue affect them thus far; giving their impassioned fanbase genuine belief that a famous Parc des Princes victory could be on the cards.
While Les Olympiens continue to produce the goods on the road, PSG have been largely unplayable at home, are well-rested and are witnessing their front three combine just as they had dreamt of, so we can only back Pochettino’s side to take one more step towards the crown and end Marseille’s streak of victories.