Saturday, 23 February 2013

PSG vs Marseille: Classic classique's from years gone by

"When I was young I used to watch the Classique with all my mates in the neighbourhood," said Mamadou Sakho yesterday.

"There was always a lot of chatter, a lot of bets going down… There was great tension surrounding these games and we always looked forward to them.

"It was a very special moment for me. I've always been a PSG fan, I used to go to the Parc des Princes as a kid, starting when I was seven or eight, so to be able to defend the colours of my team on the pitch is very emotional."

Sakho, who grew up in the rough-and-ready 19th arrondissement of Paris, is well placed to describe what Paris Saint-Germain vs Marseille means to the fans.

Though not a derby in the traditional sense, given that Marseille is some 800km south of Paris, the rivalry is a fierce one; the urbane citizens of the capital versus the passionate peasants from the south. In fact, perhaps Le Classique inspired Susanne Collins to write The Hunger Games series - hopefully Sunday's match won't end in death, destruction, and civil war, though sadly there is precedent for all three.

Marseille have had the better of things over the years, winning 31 of the 66 Ligue 1 clashes between the teams compared to PSG's 19. But both sides have enjoyed notable victories, and here we take a look at some of the most memorable.

The first one
December 12 1971: Marseille 4-2 Paris Saint-Germain
The real rivalry between PSG and OM didn't really begin until the late 1980s, but the two teams first met at the Stade Veledrome in 1971. Young upstarts PSG, in only their second season after formation, had won promotion to Ligue 1, and travelled south to take on a Marseille side which was dominating the league at the time. Bernard Bosquier and Josip Skoblar shot the home side into a 2-0 first half lead, before they helpfully handed PSG a lifeline thanks to Joseph Bonnel's own goal.

The second half saw Didier Couécou restore OM's two goal advantage, but PSG kept plugging away and were rewarded with 20 minutes remaining when Michel Prost found the net to set up a grandstand finish. However, that pesky Skoblar wasn't to be denied, and the Eagle of Dalmatians pounced for his second to secure the points.

Our biggest win
January 8 1978: Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 Marseille
Marseille bossed most of the early matches between the clubs, but a sign of PSG's rising power came in 1978 when we thrashed them at the Parc-des-Princes. There was little hint of what was come when Saar Boubacar put the visitors in front in the first half.

But PSG roared back to hit the front through Francois Brisson and Mustapha Dahleb. In the second period Francois M'Pele found the net twice, with an own goal from Marius Tresor helping PSG complete their win, the biggest in the history of the series.

Their biggest win
November 28 1986: Marseille 4-0 Paris Saint-Germain
In fairness to OM, they had a pretty good team in the 1980s, with the likes of Jean-Pierre Papin and Alain Giresse being tempted to the Veledrome by Tapie's crooked money the prospect of playing for the best-supported team in France.

This victory over PSG, inspired by two goals from Patrick Cubaynes, demonstrated that they were putting together a squad that was capable of reclaiming the Ligue 1 title for the first time since the 1970s.

The one that started it all
May 5 1989: Marseille 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain
Le Classique as we know it today wasn't really a big deal until after this match, which came at the end of the season which had seen OM and PSG go head-to-head for the Ligue 1 title. OM were by now being bank-rolled by their match-fixing, loud-mouthed, president Bernard Tapie, but with the teams tied on points at the top of the table with three fixtures remaining, the match was billed as a title decider.

Unsurprisingly it was a tense affair, but the decisive action came in the closing stages. After future Leyton Orient striker Amara Simba had missed a great chance to give PSG the lead, Marseille stormed down to the other end of the pitch, with midfielder Franck Sauzee drilling a shot into the net to give Les Phoceens the points, and set them up for their second league and cup double. We've been pissed off with them ever since.

My favourite Classique
October 26 2008: Marseille 2-4 Paris Saint-Germain
As a fairly new convert to the PSG cause, I haven't seen that many classiques, but my favourite has to be the 4-2 defeat of OM at the Veledrome in 2008/09.

We have a terrible record at their place, and with the home side having made an unbeaten start to the season, the signs looked ominous. But PSG had a handy team back then, and took the lead through Guillaume Hoarau, who headed in a Jerome Rothen corner in the 10th minute. But by half-time Marseille had turned it around, with Mamadou Niang taking advantage of a mix-up in the PSG defence to level, before Mathieu Valbeuna crashed in a close range effort.

However, PSG came out for the second half all guns blazing. Admittedly one of those guns was the usually misfiring Peguy Luyindula, but he managed to make it 2-2 with a neat finish after good work from Sessegnon and Pancrate. It got even better for Les Rouges-et-Bleu in the 76th minute, when Rothen's long-range free kick somehow squirmed through the body of Steve Mandanda and into the net. Marseille's hopes of taking anything from the game were extinguished when Hoarau headed in his second to secure a memorable victory.


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