The Numbers Game: PSG threatening to implode but Marseille's Classique record is bleak

By Sports Desk October 14, 2022

This might be the perfect time to play Paris Saint-Germain, or it could be the worst possible time to face them.

It's been a chaotic week for the Ligue 1 champions, with rumours of in-fighting, betrayal, and possible walkouts.

Kylian Mbappe apparently wants out, and that in turn led to speculation about the possibility of football consultant Luis Campos and head coach Christophe Galtier departing as well.

Everyone remains for the time being and they must all now turn their attention to Sunday's game, Le Classique.

Victory for Marseille will move them level on 26 points with PSG – victory for the Parisians at the Parc des Princes will likely have many already declaring them champions again even after just 11 games.

A rival emerging?

Throughout Qatar Sports Investments' (QSI) ownership of PSG, genuine title rivals have been few and far between.

Marseille certainly can't claim to be so competitive yet, though there's clearly some cause for optimism.

After all, this will be the third successive Classique that has been contested by sides in the top three, which is as many as in their previous 13 meetings.

That may not mean a huge amount in isolation and even Marseille's second-placed finish last term saw them 15 points adrift of PSG, but Igor Tudor's men do appear to be making progress, with 23 points after 10 games their third-best start in the top flight.

A shock win in the capital on Sunday might force a few people to sit up and take note.

Classique, c'est bleak

Any Marseille optimism is likely to be tempered by the recent history of this fixture, however.

PSG have only lost one of their previous 25 games against Marseille across all competitions, a 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat in September 2020.

 

In fact, PSG's nine wins from 11 home meetings with OM since the QSI takeover in 2011-12 is their joint-most against a single opponent.

To make matters worse for Marseille, PSG haven't lost any of their past 19 Ligue 1 games – which is their longest such run since 21 between May 2018 and January 2019 – and are unbeaten at home in 26 top-flight matches.

But, as the saying goes; the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Right?

Verratti closes on landmark

Marco Verratti is one of the players who is most synonymous with this ultra-successful era of PSG given he arrived in 2012.

He is now set to make Classique history as he will be the first outfield player to make 20 appearances in the famous fixture.

In fact, only one player has ever made more appearances in Le Classique; former Marseille favourite Steve Mandanda.

Marquinhos isn't too far behind the Italian, though, and unlike Verratti, the Brazil defender has remarkably never lost to Marseille in Ligue 1.

That's a run of 15 games without defeat – only three players have ever played more Ligue 1 games against one team without losing. Jean-Paul Bertrand Demanes (21 versus Laval for Nantes) holds that particular record.

Galtier's point to prove

The off-field circus of this week has undoubtedly had its toll on Galtier, with the PSG embarking on a bit of a rant during Friday's pre-match news conference.

Former Nice coach Galtier fumed about questions relating to off-pitch matters, barking that he just wanted to concentrate on football.

Clearly, then, Galtier will be more motivated than anyone to get a positive result and ensure the focus is on football again after Sunday – though he'll need to put a poor run behind him if he's to do so.

Galtier has only won four of 25 games against Marseille as a coach, giving him a measly win percentage of 16.

Only against Auxerre (no wins from five games) has he a poorer record.

 

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