Match Preview: Crucial Classique for Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain face Olympique de Marseille at the Orange Vélodrome on Sunday in a must-win game if they hope to repeat as French champions. AS Monaco’s win on Saturday moves them three points clear of second place OGC Nice and six points ahead of Unai Emery’s men. If Paris drop any points against their rivals it will be curtains for their dream of a fifth consecutive title.

It’s been an up-and-down couple of weeks for PSG. Coming off their stunning 4-0 win over FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, Paris followed up that performance with a frustrating scoreless draw against Toulouse FC that cost them an opportunity to make up ground on Monaco in the table. With their back up against the wall, it will be interesting to see how Emery’s team responds in a hostile environment.

Les Parisiens have been dreadful away from the Parc des Princes this season against French competition. They’ve lost four league matches all season and they’ve all come on the road. To make things even more difficult, PSG supporters have been barred from attending the match due to security concerns. Despite the poor form on the road, Thomas Meunier is looking forward to his first Classico away from home:

It’s for the atmosphere at these games that you play football. It’s true there will be quite a lot of pressure, but that’s part of sport, you have to live with that. I’m really looking forward to Sunday! – Thomas Meunier,

The scoreless draw back in October between the two sides shouldn’t give PSG much confidence going into Sunday’s match. They completely dominated that game but wasted multiple scoring chances–like so many matches this season. Paris can’t afford the same result and it will be up to Edinson Cavani, Julian Draxler, and Angel Di Maria to lead the attack and be ruthless in front of goal.

Marseille have climbed their way to seventh place in the table but a win could see them move into the discussion for a place in Europe next season. Rudi García’s men have alternated wins and losses in their last five league matches (three wins, two losses) and much of their success this season can be attributed to goal-scorer Bafetimbi Gomis. Gomis, who arrived last summer on loan from Swansea City AFC, is tied for third with most goals scored in Ligue 1 (16) but unfortunately for OM, he’ll miss the match with a knee injury.

Emery will have nearly a full squad at his disposal for the match but there are a few absences. Thiago Motta is the biggest name left out of the team. He did train but it was determined he wasn’t 100 percent so he will continue to receive treatment. Maxwell, Giovani Lo Celso, and Grzegorz Krychowiak will also not feature.

Starting XI Prediction

(4-3-3) Trapp; Meunier, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Rabiot, Verratti, Matuidi; Draxler, Di Maria, Cavani

This is a must-win game and I expect Emery to go with the exact same lineup he had against Barcelona with the exception of Thiago Silva starting in place of Presnel Kimpembe.

Score Prediction

OM 2-2 PSG

It will be a fun match for neutrals but absolutely heart-wrenching for PSG supporters. On paper, the capital club should win comfortably but I fear the team’s road woes will continue. Marseille have plenty to play for and the opportunity to keep their rivals from winning the league yet again will prove to be the deciding factor.

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Tags Adrien Rabiot Angel Di Maria Blaise Matuidi Edinson Cavani Giovani Lo Celso Grzegorz Krychowiak Julian Draxler Layvin Kurzawa Ligue 1 Marco Verratti Marseille Maxwell Presnel Kimpembe Thiago Motta Thiago Silva Thomas Meunier Unai Emery
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