France: Marseilles aim to prevent Paris from buying way to title
While Spain has El Clasico, France has Le Classique; another contest whose bitterness is exacerbated by political history and geographical division. The football rivalry between Olympique Marseilles and Paris St-Germain, who meet tomorrow, only goes back a quarter of a century when PSG finally began to challenge for titles. But culturally the nation's capital and biggest port have distrusted each other for centuries.
Marseilles are traditionally France's biggest club, and the only one to win the Champions League, although the 1993 success was marred by allegations of match-fixing. But since PSG were taken over by Qatari owners they have become the big spenders, splashing out £67m during the summer on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva. They joined Alex, Maxwell, Gregory van der Wiel, Thiago Motta, Javier Pastore, Blaise Matudi and Jérémy Ménez in a team of all talents. For coach Carlo Ancelotti, the title is the bare minimum he has to achieve.
Marseilles came 10th last year, 31 points behind PSG, 34 adrift of champions Montpellier. They won the French Cup but Didier Deschamps quit to coach France; Elie Baup, last employed taking Nantes to relegation in 2009, replaced him. Loanee Joey Barton was one of the highest-profile signings, and expectations were low.
Then OM began with six wins while PSG started with three draws. France was agog – along with a few Qataris. Ancelotti's team have since been winning, with Ibrahimovic prolific, while Marseilles lost 4-1 at Valenciennes last weekend enabling PSG to move within three points at the top. Marseilles regained belief with a 5-1 Europa League win over AEL Limassol and the Stade Vélodrome will noisily hope they can delay PSG's inevitable rise a little bit longer.
ESPN show exclusive coverage of Milan v Inter and Marseilles v PSG Visit espn.co.uk/tv for details
Latest in Sport
Frank Lampard was RIGHT not to celebrate Manchester City's equaliser against Chelsea
All Blacks Aaron Cruden misses New Zealand flight after drinking session, has brilliant excuse
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Five reasons why Louis van Gaal is a worse Manchester United manager than David Moyes
Comment: Louis Van Gaal struggled at start of Bayern reign, but Manchester United's problems run deeper and Premier League is less forgiving
- 2 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God