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Whole France had been waiting for that match for weeks. Paris Saint-Germain against Olympique Marseille, also known as “Le Classique”, has been fascinating and polarizing the hexagon since forever. Supporters of both clubs hate each other more than anything and it isn’t for nothing that no Marseillais supporters were allowed to be in or even in the neighborhood of the Parc des Princes… So, eventually, mainly PSG supporters (there were surely some neutral and also hidden Marseille supporters in the stadium) witnessed a 2-1 win of their team over the men from Southern France.
The atmosphere was already very heated before the match had even begun. A huge banner had been rolled out on the pitch of PSG’s home, saying: “ICI C’EST PARIS!” 46252 fans were in the stadium, a new record for this season in the Ligue 1. Only the match PSG against Lille in December had a similar amount of spectators: 45195. 800 policemen were on the stands to avoid any escalation, another 1000 more heavily armed policemen were ready to intervene if necessary outside of the Parc des Princes.
Both teams absolutely had to win. PSG not to drop more points in the title race with Montpellier and OM couldn’t afford not to win their 11th game in a row. Furthermore Les Parisiens wanted to take their revenge for the disgraceful 0-3 defeat in the Stade Vélodrome in November.
Carlo Ancelotti surprised his fans and benched his captain, Mamadou Sakho for the second time in a row. He also didn’t play a real striker, Menez and Nene were acting as forwards while Javier Pastore was playing in the offensive midfield behind them. It was kind of a 4-3-1-2. Guillaume Hoarau, who has scored 5 goals since Ancelotti’s arrival was benched as well due to tactical reasons. The Italian manager surely wanted to disturb Marseille’s defense with this unusual forward line.
PSG was the team who was dominating in the first minutes of the game. Their bright start was awarded with Jérémy Menez’ goal in the 6th minute after Christophe Jallet’s volley had been blocked. Nene had initiated the goal with a beautiful cross into the box after a run down the left wing. It was Menez’ first goal against one of the bigger teams, his 5th goal of the season and the first time that PSG scored the opener within the first 20 minutes at home.
However, Marseille wasn’t that shocked and immediately responded to PSG’s lead. A precise free-kick from Matthieu Valbuena found Alou Diarra’s head perfectly but Salvatore Sirigu could save the Frenchman’s header easily.
In the following minutes (until the 15th), the referee had to blew his whistle 9 times (altogether 35 times during the whole match). He booked Momo Sissoko after a rough challenge on André Ayew for which PSG’s captain could even have been sent off. Valbuena was booked as well for a foul on Jallet. The heated atmosphere on the pitch didn’t please Carlo Ancelotti at all, he looked annoyed and even had to separate Nene and Ayew as they were having a dispute.
Marseille had to wait until the 27th minute for their next opportunity – while Paris Saint-Germain didn’t have any opportunity at all anymore. Morgan Amalfitano’s strong shot went wide, though, but Marseille become stronger and had 54% possession of the ball in the end of the first half as well as more opportunities and shots on target.
The second 45 minutes weren’t much different from the first. Marseille was pressing very well, consequently PSG was struggling to play their dangerous combinations. Many misdirected passed let Marseille counter-attack, mainly over the left wing where Jallet was Les Parisiens’ biggest weakness.
“Carletto”’s men were aggressively pressing forward the ball carrier, often two players were troubling him. Furthermore Pastore, Menez and Nene were covering the two central backs and one defensive midfielder of the opponent so that Olympique had difficulties to build up.
Both managers also used different tactics to create space in the opponent’s defensive line. While Ancelotti had ordered Menez or Nene to always be on the sideline to tear Marseille’s back four apart, Didier Deschamps decided to occupy Paris’ back four with two offensive players what did create a lot of space on the left wing.
In the beginning of the second half, PSG became stronger again and had a great opportunity in the 55th minute that was sadly wasted by Nene. A, as the Frenchmen say so lovely, “caviar” from Menez perfectly found its way to Nenez who was alone in front of the goal but Steve Mandanda, OM’s keeper, didn’t even need to move.
4 minutes later, the metropolitans’ lax defense was punished: André Ayew headed Rémy’s assist (a header too) into the net after an excellent cross from Azpilicueta. Maxwell, the Parisian left-back lost the crucial aerial duel against the French national striker, the rest of the defense only had eyes for the ball and consequently forgot about Ayew… It was André Ayew’s third headed goal in his 3 last appearances against Paris Saint-Germain.
This time Ancelotti’s men didn’t take long to respond and thus Alex converted a corner in the 61st minute. It was PSG’s first headed goal of the current season in the Parc des Princes. Again the lead originated from Nene, this time the Brazilian had given the assist though with his corner from the right side.
In the 67th minute, Matthieu Bodmer replaced Javier Pastore who was unlucky again. Ancelotti has to play him deeper! The Italian manager declared after the match that his Argentinian superstar was tired due to a lot of precious defensive work. He was actually working a lot for his team and pressing forward pretty well.
In the remaining 30 minutes, Olympique was willing to score the equalizer but didn’t have much opportunities except two in the 81st minute after a corner. First Sirigu’s brilliant reflex saved Brandao’s shot after a corner and then Cheyrou, with a lot of space and time, shot the ball miles over the goal.
In the 83rd minute, Hoarau was subbed in for Nene, 3 minutes later Menez left the pitch and was replaced by Mamadou Sakho. Both were given standing ovations while Pastore got booed…
One minute later, Bisevac and Brandao were booked after the Brazilian striker had brutally fouled Sirigu and the Serbian defender had pushed him away. Bisevac’ reaction was understandable, in my opinion Deschamps’ striker (had come in for Rémy in the 74th minute) should have been sent off for that horrible challenge on PSG’s goal keeper.
In the 86th minute, only 2 minutes later, Momo Sissoko got booked for the second time and consequently sent off. He came too late against Alou Diarra, in fact another unnecessary foul by the defensive midfielder.
Even down to 10 men, Les Parisiens had no difficulties to win their 18th match in the league and could level with Montpellier. These still have to play a match, on Wednesday against Marseille, which they are likely to win. Marseille have an unbeaten run of 11 winless matches in a row, they haven’t had such a negative run for 50 years. In 1962 they couldn’t win for 15 matches.
Thanks to this tight but deserved win, PSG are still in the race for the title even though they have to wait until Montpellier drops points so that they can overpass them again. It surely wasn’t a beautiful victory, only 46% of possession and 7 shots on target (all-season low) were easily topped by Marseille: 54% of possession and 10 shots on target. Man of the match was Jérémy Menez who was the most active player, he was working offensively as well as defensively, scored the opener with his first and last shot on target and he created many opportunities. Alex was also one of the key players: no mistakes, no lost (aerial) duels very well position play and the winner have made him to the best player on the pitch after Menez.
There are still some problems remaining for Ancelotti though. His team was vulnerable over the wings even though he was playing with 3 defensive midfielders. Furthermore Pastore is still underperforming, he has to play deeper, as he once declared in an interview and the great Johan Cruyff has said the same. PSG also seems to have a problem in the forward line: Apparently “Carletto” doesn’t trust in any of his strikers (Hoarau and Gameiro), so Leonardo will have to sign two world class strikers in summer…
Until the next transfer window opens, Paris Saint-Germain has to win the championship. On that note:
Thank you a lot for reading my review of this match! 🙂 Please rate with the stars under this article, comment and share it!