There’s the small matter of Le Classique in Ligue 1 on Sunday as Marseille host bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain (8pm kick-off UK time).
This will be the 100th competitive meeting between these two sides, with PSG holding the edge at 44 wins to 33 (and 22 draws) in the 99 played so far.
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Where to watch Marseille vs PSG on TV:
- UK: BT Sport 1
- US: beIN Sports
Scoreline prediction: Marseille 1-3 PSG
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Marseille vs PSG build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
It’s hard to think of many clubs that will have had a crazier week than Marseille in the build up to this match, and it all started on Monday with the signing of Olivier Ntcham on loan from Celtic. A fine player, Ntcham was brought in to try and replace Morgan Sanson who was sold to Marseille, though they are slightly different in output.
But the signing appeared to be against the wishes of Andre Villas-Boas, who revealed to a press conference on Tuesday that he had offered his resignation to the board.
“It was not a decision that I took,” Villas-Boas told reporters.
“It was specifically a player that I said no to. I was not aware of it, I learned of the signing when I woke up and went on the number one Marseille website. I offered my resignation through saying that I was not in agreement with the sporting strategy.
“The board has not yet given me final feedback. I do not want money, I just want to leave. A gentlemen’s agreement about signing players has been broken. This club has already experienced two or three years of randomness in terms of its transfers and I cannot accept that.
“This has nothing to do with the incidents that occurred on the weekend. It is related to the sporting side. Even the departure of Nemanja (Radonjic), I was informed in the evening… I am waiting for a response from the board, and if it is a no, we will continue.”
Villas-Boas then mentioned his attention was to focus on Wednesday’s game against Lens until the board decided to let him go but he would have barely had any time to prepare, with the call coming just a few hours later.
OFFICIAL: Marseille have confirmed they have sacked André Villas-Boas.
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) February 2, 2021
“Olympique de Marseille announces the dismissal of André Villas Boas,” a statement from the club read.
“This decision became inevitable because of repetition of actions and attitudes which seriously harm the institution and its employees who defend it daily. The comments made today at a press conference in particular about Pablo Longoria, Head of Football, are unacceptable.
“His exceptional work cannot be called into question and was on the contrary welcomed by all during this winter transfer window marked by an unprecedented crisis. Possible sanctions will be taken against André Villas-Boas following disciplinary proceedings.”
Nasser Larguet stepped in on a temporary basis and, after overseeing the 2-2 draw with Lens, will continue in the dugout for this weekend. Good thing it isn’t a big game against bitter rivals during a tough period for Marseille…
Although PSG have also changed managers this season, it came in much calmer fashion, and Mauricio Pochettino saw his side rebound from their first setback in emphatic fashion. Having lost 3-2 to Lorient last weekend, PSG hosted bottom-of-the-league Nimes in midweek. Eager to avoid another upset, PSG cruised to a 3-0 win over Nimes to remain three points behind leaders Lille, in third.
- Marseille (vs Lens): Mandanda; Lirola, Perrin, Caleta-Car, Sakai; Gonzalez, Kamara; Thauvin, Payet; Milik, Germain.
- PSG (vs Nimes): Rico; Dagba, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Bakker; Gueye, Paredes; Di Maria, Sarabia; Kean, Mbappe.
Marseille have a relatively fresh squad to choose from, with Jordan Amavi and Valentin Rongier the only doubts, while Pape Gueye and Michael Cuisance return from suspension.
Neymar will return for PSG after suspension, but they remain without Juan Bernat, Ander Herrera, Keylor Navas, Marco Verratti and Abdou Diallo. Colin Dagba is a doubt, but Marquinhos may be fit.
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Player to watch: Neymar
Aside from the Marseille side show, eyes will be on Neymar this weekend to see if he can inspire PSG to another Classique win, just two days after his 29th birthday. The Brazilian should be fully rested, having been suspended in midweek, and may have more motivation than some to pile the misery on Marseille.
Neymar was one of the three PSG players sent off in the return fixture at the start of the campaign, for his involvement in the injury-time melee that saw five players in total given their marching orders. Marseille won that game 1-0, as PSG’s dreadful start continued, but their fortunes have changed since and when they met in the Trophee des Champions last month, Neymar had the last laugh.
Coming on from the bench, Neymar scored from the penalty spot to put PSG 2-0 up, a goal that proved to be vital as Marseille got one back. But the 2-1 win was secured, and Pochettino has his first trophy. Neymar also scored twice in the 3-2 defeat against Lens last weekend, taking his total tally for the season to six goals in 10 games, in what has been an injury-hit campaign.
Ligue 1 2020/21 recent form:
- Marseille: DLLLD
- PSG: WLWWW
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