Before the coronavirus put a halt to the Ligue 1 season, the top two teams in the top flight of French football were rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille. However, it seems as though the rivalry has lost some sizzle, at least from Les Phocéens side.
In a recent interview with ESPN Argentina (via Le10Sport), Marseille striker Dario Benedetto spoke about the rivalry after playing in his first Le Classique back in October, which PSG won 4-0.
The 29-year-old mentioned that it’s a great rivalry filled with passion. Still, it pales in comparison to that of Boca Juniors and River Plate, which is why Benedetto can talk with his compatriots on the Parisian side in Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria, and Leandro Paredes.
“It’s not like Boca-River, but there is a big rivalry,” Benedetto said. “We accept that I speak with the Argentines Icardi, Paredes and Di Maria, with whom I played in the selection. That’s all!”
Despite convocating with his fellow Argentines, the Marseille striker knows that it’s as far as he’ll go since it will rub their supporters the wrong way if he were talking with other players on the PSG squad.
“Afterward, I can have problems because the rivalry is great and the passion of the supporters here is enormous, similar to that of the Argentines,” Benedetto said.
Ask Thomas Meunier, who liked a Marseille tifo post on Twitter, about how fans can get upset if a player gets a bit too friendly with a rival.
When PSG is winning the majority of the matches against their rival, the derby might lose its luster, which is why Marseille manager André Villas-Boas also downplayed the rivalry back in October.
“We’re going to try to play the game for the game’s sake, but it’s a game that doesn’t mean much to me,” Villas-Boas said. “It was a Classique in the past. But we’re going to Paris.”
French football needs this rivalry once again to be their marquee matchup for the casual fans. Perhaps a season in which Marseille has UEFA Champions League football can light a fire under them to take the rivalry seriously.
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