When you arrive at a club, you quickly know which matches particularly motivate the club, the players and the fans," smiles Luis Enrique. PSG-OM is one of them. Paris receives its best enemy Marseille this Sunday (20:45, Amazon Prime Video), at the Parc des Princes, at the end of the sixth day of Ligue 1. A Classic that "becomes interesting again", as Alain Roche, passed by both clubs, points out. "The situation in the standings forces PSG to play a great game. OM showed a lot of character in Amsterdam (3-3, Thursday in C3, Editor's note). It's a difficult week for them but I believe a lot in the extra soul of the players. After, if they play at their level, the Parisians will probably win... But OM have been playing at the top of the table again in recent years, they eliminated PSG in the Coupe de France last season. We focused a lot on the Olympicos (the Lyon-Marseille duel, Editor's note), but the Classic is regaining flavor, "says the consultant Canal +. True.
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Since the 4-0 inflicted in... a half-time to impotent Marseillais, at the beginning of 2019, Paris Saint-Germain has indeed often been hooked in the game, with even two setbacks, a draw and three successes by a small goal difference. There was also that 2-0 win at the Velodrome in 2021 and a demonstration, still in Marseille, in the league last season. Success 3-0 with a double from Kylian Mbappé and a goal from Leo Messi. Provençal walk that excluded OM from the title race and allowed the Parisians, in the hard at the time, to believe in tomorrow that sings. An illusion.
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Luis Enrique, first!
Since then, Paris Saint-Germain has changed a lot, with 11 new faces, a new project and a new coach. "It's obviously one of the most important games of the season. However, we prepare it in the same way, but we pay attention to the emotional component. We have to be an intense team, but we don't fall into exaggeration. It can be the risk in this kind of poster, "says "Lucho", who will coach his first Classic but who has played many Classicos Spanish sauce as a player and coach. "It's a special match. Winning this kind of match always leaves good memories for everyone, "says the former Barça and Real player, who still lives at the PSG Campus in Poissy, while waiting to find accommodation.
Which Luis Enrique had the happiness to see his players respond to Dortmund (2-0) Tuesday, in C1, after a worrying setback against Nice (2-3). The Spanish technician can count on a Kylian Mbappé on fire (7 goals in L1) to forget the inefficiency of others. "We all know his qualities of Mbappe, says Valentin Rongier. Do not give him spaces, this is where he is most comfortable. But it's not just him." No, there are boys like Ousmane Dembélé, Randal Kolo Muani or Gonçalo Ramos, all looking for their first Parisian goal. Non-exhaustive list, while Mbappé has scored eight of his team's 12 goals in all competitions! "It's a good concern," swears Luis Enrique, ensuring that "the other players will also have good statistics" and explaining that he aspires to see "KM" "increase" his. It promises... He will also have to find the right balance in possession and transition. There, there is still work to be done.
In any case, it is especially on the side of OM that the main uncertainties lie. And for good reason, the crisis that has just shaken the Marseille club all week against a backdrop of quarrels with the supporters has led to the departure of Marcelino. President Longoria chose to stay. On the bench, Jacques Abardonado, not a stranger in Marseille but neophyte in these functions.
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OM's style? Like when I was a player, aggressive in a good way.
Luis Enrique does not have much material to prepare for the match... "Everything we can see from opponents is often different against us, they play differently, they defend more or their attitude is different," said the former Barça coach. So we are prepared for any situation. They are expected to repeat things seen in the last game but also to change their strategy. The greatness of a team is also knowing how to adapt." In any case, Luis Enrique's PSG aims above all to impose his will and his game of possession on his opponent. Admitting to having "ideas" and "several systems" in mind, "Pancho" Abardonado aims to "put (his) players in their (best) position" while practicing "offensive football" and "aggressive in the good sense of the word, as when (he was) player". Quite a program.
Like Rongier, Abardonado evokes the idea of arriving "without complex" in Paris, even against "a great of Europe" like PSG. "We must not forget that we have a quality group," he slips mischievously, claiming "solidarity, envy and gnaque". Recall that OM, despite an average quality of play – an understatement – under Marcelino, remains unbeaten in L1. All for a total of nine points, one more than Paris. With a success, OM would be second!
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The Marseillais with their heads in the place?
It remains to be seen how the players have digested this turbulent week behind the scenes and in the upper echelons of the club. "It wasn't easy, I'm not going to lie... Football has put us back on the right path a little," says Rongier. Is it the right time to face OM for a PSG still running? "There are two options, yes or no," laughs Luis Enrique. Against Ajax, it was not a problem for them, they played a good game and could even have won. They are still unbeaten in Ligue 1. I hope we will see the best version of PSG and that we will be superior to our opponent, but they are a very high level opponent." Will the match be high-level too?