Good evening everyone and welcome to our live coverage as Marseille take on Paris Saint-Germain
at the Stade Velodrome. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest Le Classique clashes in recent history, with both sides still gunning for the French domestic crown this campaign. Laurent Blanc
's charges know that victory tonight would send them back to the top of the table ahead of a tricky fixture list in April. Meanwhile, Marseille know that defeat to the Parisians could spell the end of any title ambitions.
Both of these sides found the start of the current Ligue 1 campaign difficult, but have also managed to turn things around. As it stands, only two points separate the second and third-placed teams.
The head-to-head statistics between these two sides are incredibly close:
This fixture is now more than just about bragging rights between the two sides. Lyon's recent slip-up against Nice has left the title-race open and both teams are still well in contention. PSG find themselves in some promising form having only lost twice since the turn of the year, with those defeats coming away from home at Bordeaux and Bastia.
and his men will be more than aware of PSG's falterings away from Paris too. Statistics show that the Parisians have won only five out of a possible 15 matches away from the Parc des Princes. Tonight's hosts might also be boosted by the fact that they have also only lost twice at home this season.
Some team news for you now...
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN STARTING XI:
, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Maxwel, Thiago Motta
, Verratti, Matuidi, Pastore, Cavani, Ibrahimovic
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN SUBSTITUTES: Douchez, Digne, van der Wiel, Cabaye, Rabiot, Bahebeck, Lavezzi
MARSEILLE STARTING XI: Mandanda; Mendy, Morel, Danni, Djedje; Lemina, Romao, Ayew, Payet, Thauvin; Gignac
MARSEILLE SUBSTITUTES: Samba, AloE, Nkoulou, Tuiloma, Ocampos, Alessandrini, Batshuayi
So the away side are to lead with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
in attack, with support coming from Edinson Cavani
. Blanc has decided to keep his faith in a midfield-four of Thiago Motta
, Marco Verratti
, Blaise Matuidi
and Javier Pastore
As for the hosts, Andre-Pierre Gignac
will feature up top alone, while creative support will be provided by the likes of Dimitri Payet
and Andre Ayew
, who make up part of a four-man midfield.
Given the attacking quality on show, we should be in for an entertaining spectacle. PSG could get away without winning here, but OM know that three points are vital if they want to mount a serious challenge for the title in the remaining games of the season.
Blanc's men might have slightly better confidence going into the fixture having already beaten Marseille this season. PSG came out 2-0 victors when the sides met previously at the Parc des Princes, thanks to goals from Lucas and Ibrahimovic.
A draw would not be too disastrous for the away side tonight, but given the attacking quality on show it's hard to see PSG settling for anything less than three points.
We're just a few moments away from kickoff now as the players prepare to emerge from the tunnel in France. Time for me to give a prediction... I'm going to say 2-1 to the visitors, a victory that would then lift them back to the top of the table. Such is the significance of this clash, this is only the seventh time in the history of the league that these two sides have met when both have been in the top three.
The players are now being greeted to a sea of blue and white in the stands as they come out from the tunnel. Tonight's atmosphere seems fantastic. We're in for a treat tonight!
KICKOFF! PSG get us underway kicking from right to left in their typical all-blue strip. Marseille will play in all-white. We begin with a false start, before the Parisians start to filter the ball around the back. Matuidi shows his intent early on with a smart spin in midfield before charging forward. His pass is intercepted and the visitors win a throw.
Payet shows some promise after just two minutes as he wins the ball in the middle to precede a solo charge forward. He can't get the better of Silva, though, who steps out to hoof the ball clear.
Ibrahimovic does really well to edge past Morel on the right flank. The towering forward cuts inside the box where he goes down under the challenge of the retreating defender. Replays show that the Marseille man makes a brilliant tackle to deny the Swede who was through on goal.
OUCH! Tempers are flaring already as Verratti does really well to reclaim possession in his own corner. Ayew isn't too happy and throws himself into a terrible two-footed challenge. The referee gives him a ticking off and he manages to escape without a card...
Nothing too much to report as yet. Both sides appear motivated for the contest, though nobody has really go their foot on the ball. Payet finds himself with some space outside of the PSG box, but his long-range effort flies tamely over the crossbar without troubling Sirigu.
YELLOW CARD! PSG have started to press highly up the pitch and it almost does for Marseille. Thankfully for the hosts, the referee steps in to give a foul on Mendy. OM's Romao is then booked for a silly challenge having rushed in on Pastore.
The hosts get their foot on the ball for the first time in the game. They shift it around the front of the PSG box before Payet tries a dink in behind the defence, but there's a little too much on it as it runs out of play before Ayew can meet it.
CLOSE! Amazing bit of play from Verratti who picks out Pastore in behind the Marseille defence. The midfielder pushes forward beyond Fani before firing a shot across the face of goal and wide.
This fixture has got some intensity to it already. Both sides are going from end to end in a matter of seconds. Matuidi brings down Payet around 25 yards from goal, presenting the midfielder with a perfect shooting opportunity. His first attempt isn't good enough to beat the wall, which is then followed up by a poor volley over the crossbar. Wasteful!
CHANCE! Marseille have a corner which is swung into the middle, only to be cleared to the on-rushing Lemina on the edge of the box. He's left unmarked but can't get his volley on target, much to the relief of the PSG defence.
CLOSE! Another decent opportunity arrives, but it falls down the other end to PSG. Marseille are unable to clear a corner, leaving Luiz to fire off a close-range shot that is blocked on its way to goal by Morel.
The play has started to settle down following a hurried opening. The visitors are moving the ball around nicely, but Marseille look just as lively when in possession. Ibrahimovic drops deep to find Marquinhos who chips the ball into the box before its hooked away by Djedje.
YELLOW CARD! Ibrahimovic throws an impressive turn to beat Fanni, who catches his man and is sent into the book.
This is clever work so far from PSG. They're looking to take the sting out of the opening minutes by keeping some possession. The ball is eventually fed forward into Matuidi, who ends up fouling Djedje and OM escape from danger.
Payet shows some lovely skill to bring the ball down out of the air. He feeds the play into Lamina, who tries something a little too smart in towards Gignac and Sirigu is able to come off his line to smother.
We haven't had much in the way of build-up play so far. Things have been rather frenetic. Marseille now take their time on the ball with Morel feeding it around his back-line. The ball is fed down to Thauvin and he cuts inside to curl a shot towards Sirigu who makes a comfortable save at his near post.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 1-0 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (ANDRE-PIERRE GIGNAC)
Amazing scenes in Marseille! The ball is switched across the pitch into Payet on the right and he has just enough time to send a wonderful, curling ball towards the back-post. Gignac moves forward with real instinct to get the leap on Marquinhos before sending a bullet header beyond a helpless Sirigu. A wonderful ball and a terrific header, but you have to maybe question the awareness of Marquinhos. Payet was perhaps afforded a little too much time on the ball too.
So PSG need to do something now, and Luiz seeks to push forward before pulling up with what appears to be a hamstring issue having come under a challenge from the goalscoring Gignac. He's taken straight off in place of Gregory van der Wiel, with Marquinhos slotting into the centre of defence.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 1-1 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (BLAISE MATUIDI)
Marseille's lead lasts just five minutes then! The Parisians move the ball forward through OM's midfield with far too much ease before it ends up at the feet of Matuidi. The midfielder turns just inside of the Marseille box before curling a peach of an effort into the top right corner of goal beyond Mandanda. Wonderful strike!
Matuidi gets a little too excited and gives away a silly free kick within shooting range of the PSG goal. Thauvin lines up the shot with Payet in company, but the former blasts a poor attempt high and wide of the away side's goal...
Fanni has done an excellent job of man-marking Ibrahimovic thus far, he's basically been non-existent in the first half. The Swede has looked a little frustrated and has had to drop far too deep to receive the ball. The visitors are now looking to take the sting out of things with lots of short passing.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 2-1 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (ANDRE-PIERRE GIGNAC)
What are PSG playing at? Marseille produce some great pressing to dispossess Verratti in the middle. The challenge sees the ball break to an unmarked Gignac, who races past the on-coming defender at the angle before lashing a fantastic low finish beyond Sirigu.
SAVE! PSG are all over the shop. Gignac meets a cross in the box and diverts his header towards the top corner, where Sirigu scrambles to make a tremendous save and tip the ball over the crossbar.
HALF TIME: MARSEILLE 2-1 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
For a game with so few chances, we've been treated to an incredible first half. Marseille rightly find themselves in front having made the most of their minimal chances in the contest. PSG have gone to sleep at the back and now find themselves behind. Bielsa will be thrilled, they're now setup to hit Blanc's men on the break in the second half.
PSG will be kicking themselves. They've switched off at the back far too often and OM have made them pay. The hosts will be proud of some impressive pressing that led to the second goal, but PSG could have shown a lot more intent to prevent the opener.
Unfortunately for the visitors, their forward men have failed to turn up so far. Matuidi and Verratti have looked to bring things forward from the middle, although Ibrahimovic and Cavani have offered very little in terms of movement or direct running.
PSG dominated the ball in the first period despite being behind at the break. The Parisians held 62% of possession with some impressive passing accuracy of 82%, but they've failed to do much with it.
What's proved the difference so far has been Marseille willingness to press and also take shots on goal. OM have made 73% of accurate tackles, while also taking eight shots at goal compared to PSG's 4.
Blanc will be looking for more penetration in the second period. Defeat wouldn't be good enough for the visitors given that they have the chance to return to the top of the table this evening. They have Lavezzi on the bench tonight, who could provide some pace and extra running in the forward positions. As it stands, Blanc may bank on Ibrahimovic making some improvements in the early stages of the second half before deciding upon any changes.
Marseille will want much more of the same in terms of work-rate. They'll continue to press in the second period in hope of more PSG mistakes, while the goal-lead should open up the chance to either work on the counter or exploit the space as PSG push for an equaliser. In Payet they have the quality to make use of any extra room, with Ayew also proving useful with his pace in the channels.
The players are now emerging for the start of the second period. Can Marseille claim a vital victory to remain in the hunt for the title?
KICKOFF! Marseille get things going again but are robbed in front of their goal. Matuidi flicks the ball high into the path of Ibrahimovic but Fanni does really well to get stuck in and clear the danger.
Encouraging signs early on as PSG break with Maxwell down the left. He turns in a good ball that takes a deflection to move away from Cavani, leaving Fanni with the chance to clear again.
SHOT! Payet finds himself with space on the left flank where he cuts inside to set himself up for the shot. He uses his right in an attempt to copy Matuidi's earlier effort, but the shot flies over the bar without troubling a relieved Sirigu.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 2-2 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (MARQUINHOS)
Ibrahimovic finally delivers something of note with a whipped, low delivery from a free kick into the centre of the Marseille box. The hosts are unable to clear the ball properly, leaving Marquinhos with the chance to react and lash the ball high into the net from the centre of the box.
GOAL! MARSEILLE 2-3 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (MOREL OG)
Wow! Fantastic scenes in Marseille as PSG move into the lead for the first time in the match. It's mainly of the hosts making, though, as Pastore loses his marker to charge down the left flank unchallenged. He flicks a neat cross into the box with his outstep, leaving Ibrahimovic to put some serious pressure on Morel who inevitably diverts the ball past his own keeper.
CLOSE! Zlatan is causing some real problems now. The striker takes up a great position off the back of his marker to meet a van der Wiel cross, only to see his header fly off target without troubling the keeper.
Chaos in the PSG box as Van der Wiel looks to have handled in his own area only for the referee to wave play on. Replays show that it was hardly intentional and the official has probably made the correct call.
Gignac hasn't given up hope of pulling this game back into the clutches of the home side. He wriggles free of his marker to bring the ball down out of the air inside the box, but his second touch is poor as he volleys high and wide over the goal.
SUBSTITUTION: Blanc decides that he's seen enough of Cavani who has been very quiet this evening. He's replaced by Lavezzi.
Matuidi shows some great industry to break forward into the Marseille box before lashing an effort towards the bottom corner, however Mandanda gets a strong foot to it. The champions are starting to show a little more willpower in the second half. Marseille might need to change something here.
Marseille can't afford to slip up if they want to keep in the race for the title. They're almost back in it as Gignac gets a timely flick-on, only to be flagged for a handball.
YELLOW CARD! Verratti goes into the book for a poor challenge on Lemina.
CLOSE! Pastore should wrap the game up with just under half an hour to go. The midfielder pushes forward into the box before taking his marker out of the game with a dummy. He tries to cut his shot back across the keeper, only to see the ball creep wide of the post. Blanc looks furious.
Djedje displays good strength down the right flank before slashing a cross back into the box. Gignac looks to meet in but Marquinhos does well to get across and clear the ball away.
SUBSTITUTION: Strange substitution for Marseille as Gignac is replaced by Batshuayi. Ayew also makes way for Alessandrini.
CLOSE! Will PSG come to regret these missed chances? Lavezzi does well to break down the left and the into the box, but he's denied by the foot of Mandanda and Ibrahimovic is unable to make use of the rebound.
We're into a huge final 15 minutes for both of theses sides' seasons. If PSG can see this out they'll go into pole position with seven Ligue 1 games remaining. Marseille need something now if they want to stay in with a shout of domestic glory. The hosts are camped inside the PSG half as they look for an opening. Lemina finally gets bored of proceedings and lashes a shot from distance, which flies wide of Sirigu's right post without causing too much trouble.
PSG now grab the chance to threaten the Marseille box. There's lot of neat short moves from Ibrahimovic and Matuidi, but they take too much time on the ball, allowing OM to clear through Morel.
Ten minutes remaining as Payet is given a bit of space on the edge of the PSG box. He has very few options in sight and decided to bend one towards goal. He's unable to trouble Sirigu, though, who saves comfortably in the middle of goal.
SUBSTITUTION Blanc makes an important tactical change as youngster Adrien Rabiot comes on to replace Pastore in the middle. That change should shore up any holes in midfield.
CLOSE! This should be game over, surely? Verratti breaks forward now but fails to find Ibrahimovic at the first time of asking. He eventually cuts the ball back inside to Lavezzi, who squares to Zlatan but the Swede's shot flies wide from a tight angle.
SAVE! Rabiot almost kills the game off with a wonderful through-ball into the path of Ibrahimovic who shoots first time towards the near post. Mandanda is already on his way down but manages to throw up a hand and send the forward's strike over the crossbar.
Payet finds himself with a great chance to whip the ball into the box from a wide-left position, but PSG clear with ease and lead a counter through Matuidi before Marseille scramble just enough players back in time to close out the danger.
Alessandrini does well down the right as he looks to break past Rabiot, but the youngster shows some impressive strength to shake off the winger and reclaim possession. PSG are nearly there!
The Marseille winger does not give up and comes back with another strong run to get in behind the Parisian defence. Thankfully for the visitors Marquinhos recovers well and makes the clearance.
We're going to have five minutes of additional time at the Stade Velodrome...
Hmm... PSG get a lucky call from the referee as Verratti loses the ball close to his own goal. The ball breaks to Payet who looks to size up a shot before the referee blows his whistle for a foul. The hosts could have been in a dangerous position then!
SHOT! The ball drops to Ocampos on the edge of the box and with very few options around him, the substitute decides to shoot on the drop. His shot is wild and fails to test Sirigu who stands motionless in the PSG goal as the ball flies over the bar.
The visitors look to retain possession deep inside the Marseille half despite a few attacking options being open. They're purely just looking to close out this result.
FULL TIME: MARSEILLE 2-3 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
What a great game of football that was! Could that be a terminal blow to Marseille's title hopes? For a game with five goals there were few chances, but PSG were able to capitalise on some slack Marseille defending in the second period. Blanc clearly said something special at half time and his players have reacted to it. They seemed to want it a whole lot more in the second half. The win moves the Parisians back to the top of the table, while OM now find themselves five points being Ibrahimovic and company.