Le Classique: PSG and Marseille to renew rivalry

Champions PSG travel to Marseille this weekend, expecting a typically warm welcome from their bitter rivals at the Stade Velodrome. Monaco may be top of the table, but PSG v Marseille is still the biggest game of the season for the club from the capital.

Le Classique: PSG and Marseille to renew rivalry
Can PSG put the squeeze on third-placed rivals Marseille? Pictured: David Beckham (R), Joey Barton (C), Jeremy Menez (L), in February's battle between the sides. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The clubs meet at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday night in the fixture that the French have come to call the 'Classique'.

The mega-rich title-holders from the capital will be guaranteed their usual warm welcome in the Mediterranean port city, home to arguably the most passionate fans anywhere in France.

As it stands PSG trail Ligue 1 leaders Monaco on goal difference while Marseille are a point further back in third.

There is plenty of incentive, then, for Elie Baup's side to continue their impressive record at home to PSG down the years.

OM have lost just one of their last nine home meetings with the club from the capital, with that 4-2 reverse coming in October 2008.

However, Marseille's recent record has been rather patchy, with just two wins from seven games since the beginning of last month, and they come into the clash off the back of a chastening 3-0 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.

"We know the importance of the game," said Baup. "We need to put the Champions League to one side and start focusing on our domestic league once again.

"We have been on a good run, like Paris, so I don't think the defeat (in Dortmund) will leave any traces."

PSG are unbeaten in 11 matches in all competitions this season and have not lost in 19 games in Ligue 1 since a 1-0 loss at Reims on March 2nd.

It is their longest unbeaten sequence since a record 27-game stretch during their title-winning 1993-94 campaign and their display in beating Benfica 3-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday would have made for ominous viewing for anyone with Marseille connections.

"We are eager for the Marseille game to come around but we need some time to savour this win first," said PSG coach, former OM defender, Blanc after the performance against Benfica.

"Marseille will be the last game of a long series (of seven games in 23 days) and we play football to be involved in matches like this," added PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

One man who will not play in the game is captain Thiago Silva, who is still sidelined with a thigh injury, while Marseille are hoping striker Andre-Pierre Gignac – scorer of a brace in a 2-2 draw between the clubs at the Velodrome last season – can return after a toe problem.

Meanwhile, Monaco, who have already taken four points from trips to Marseille and Paris this season, will be hoping to extend their unbeaten start when they entertain Saint-Etienne in the principality on Saturday afternoon.

"Saint-Etienne are a direct rival for us. I think they will be competing at the top of the table right to the end of the season," said Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri, who has doubts over left-back Layvin Kurzawa and former Saint-Etienne striker Emmanuel Riviere and will be without Jeremy Toulalan for the game.

That could open the door to a starting berth for Colombian winger James Rodriguez, who has struggled to make an impact since his €45 million ($61 m) summer move from Porto.

"For James Rodriguez, it is a problem of mentality," explained Ranieri. "He thinks like a forward but must also defend."

The three sides tipped to fight it out at the top of the table before the season began have already opened up a gap on the rest, but Lille have lost just once in six games to climb up to fourth before hosting Fabrizio Ravanelli's Ajaccio.

Lyon have won just one of their last six games before travelling to Montpellier, who are traditionally strong at home, on Sunday.

Fixtures (kick-offs 8pm French time, unless stated)


Bastia v Lorient (8.30pm)


Monaco v Saint-Etienne (5pm), Guingamp v Rennes, Lille v Ajaccio,

Nantes v Evian-Thonon-Gaillard, Toulouse v Nice, Valenciennes v Reims


Montpellier v Lyon (2pm), Bordeaux v Sochaux (5pm), Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain (9pm)

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IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.