Ligue 1 Matchweek 24 preview: Marseille vs. Paris Saint-Germain (Sun - 21:00h. CET; 20:00h. GMT) - Team news, possible lineups

Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain mark a century of Classique meetings when they do battle at the Orange Velodrome in the pick of the Ligue 1 fixtures on Sunday evening.

Off-the-pitch events continue to bedevil the hosts, whereas PSG are firmly back in the title race with a 3-0 win over Nimes in midweek.

Match preview

If this weekend's Classique is even half as dramatic as September's was, fans and neutrals alike ought to strap in for a pulsating and controversial encounter between two of France's most successful clubs.

Despite their illustrious history, Marseille hardly have the look of a side who will be challenging for the big prizes anytime soon. Just days after their game with Rennes was postponed in the wake of supporters storming the training complex, Andre Villas-Boas publicly announced his desire to resign over controversy surrounding Olivier Ntcham's transfer.

The Portuguese boss was granted his wish by the powers-that-be, who relieved him of his duties amid a horror show of performances in Ligue 1, with Villas-Boas losing three in a row and winning just one of his last eight at the helm before being axed.

Interim manager Nasser Larguet seemed destined to get off to the perfect start against Lens, with Florian Thauvin and Arkadiusz Milik putting Les Olympiens 2-0 up before half time, but Marseille's defensive frailties were exposed once more as Florian Sotoca and Facundo Medina rescued a point for Sang et Or.

Winless since a 3-1 triumph over Montpellier HSC on January 6, ninth-placed Marseille's title dream is already dead in the water and they are now fighting an uphill battle to make the top five, although they do have two games in hand over most of the teams around them.

Marseille have not lost three home games on the bounce in the top flight since the 2011-12 campaign, but facing a star-studded PSG attack amid their multiple problems behind-the-scenes could certainly spell trouble for the struggling hosts this weekend.

Mauricio Pochettino's fast start to life in the Parc des Princes hotseat came to a grinding halt with a shock defeat to lowly Lorient two gameweeks ago, but the Argentine's outfit comfortably dispatched another relegation-threatened side on Wednesday in an ideal warm-up for this derby.

The champions cruised to a 3-0 victory over Nimes - one which cost Jerome Arpinon his job in the Crocodiles dugout - thanks to goals from Angel Di Maria, Pablo Sarabia and Kylian Mbappe - the latter's 15th league goal of the 2020-21 campaign.

That result was never in doubt, but PSG's title chances most certainly are. Last Sunday's slip-up against Lorient has not killed their shot at glory by any means, but Pochettino's side are one point behind second-placed Lyon and three adrift of a Lille side who just cannot stop winning at the moment.

If anything is going to carry PSG over the line this season, it is their penchant for goalscoring. Pochettino's side have already struck 53 times this season - by far the most in the league - and only 14 shipped at the other end is the fewest out of any team so far this season.

Furthermore, PSG will be out for blood after the events of September's derby, during which five players saw red, several were involved in alleged racism rows and Thauvin scored the all-important goal to propel Marseille to victory in the French capital.

However, Pochettino's men have since overcome their adversaries in the Trophee des Champions - the Argentine's first piece of silverware as a manager - and they have not lost a Ligue 1 Classique on Marseille's turf since the 2011-12 campaign, winning five of the last six.

Marseille Ligue 1 form: DLLLLD

Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form: WWWWLW

Team News

Marseille will welcome a quartet of players back from suspension for this derby, as Leonardo Balerdi, Pape Gueye, Michael Cuisance and Saif-Eddine Khaoui all missed the draw with Lens last time out.

The latter was never likely to start here, but Gueye will be expected to take his place in midfield alongside Boubacar Kamara with Valentin Rongier struggling with a tendon injury.

Alvaro Gonzalez - the man at the centre of a racism scandal involving Neymar earlier in the season - is said to have landed himself in more hot water after allegedly abusing a policeman who asked him to wear a mask.

The 31-year-old will certainly relish the chance to renew hostilities with PSG this weekend, but Balerdi could deputise if Gonzalez does not feature in the wake of his latest controversy.

PSG attacker Neymar is also back from a ban and is set to continue his battle with Gonzalez from the left-hand side, meaning that Sarabia will likely drop out despite his goal against Nimes.

Marco Verratti would also be eligible to play here after serving a suspension of his own on Wednesday, but the midfielder is fighting off a bout of coronavirus alongside Abdou Diallo, although the duo reportedly returned to training on Friday so have outside chances of being involved.

Sergio Rico will continue to deputise in goal for the injured Keylor Navas, who should be back in time to face Barcelona in the Champions League, while Marquinhos is touch-and-go with a groin problem.

Marseille possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Lirola, Caleta-Car, Gonzalez, Sakai; Thauvin, Gueye, Kamara, Payet; Milik, Benedetto

Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Rico; Florenzi, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Di Maria, Gueye, Paredes, Neymar; Mbappe, Icardi

Source: Sports Mole / Ben Knapton 






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