France’s two biggest clubs, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain, are set to meet Friday evening in a re-arranged league fixture at the Stade Velodrome. The original match was postponed at short notice on October 25 after a swine flu outbreak at PSG.
AFP - A huge week in French football continues on Friday when the country's two biggest clubs, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain, meet in a re-arranged league fixture at the Stade Velodrome.
With the country still abuzz over France's controversial World Cup qualification, the two best-supported teams in the top flight renew their heated rivalry in a match renowned for its intensity.
The original match was postponed at short notice on October 25 after an outbreak of swine flu at the Parisian club and Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou says the ensuing wait has served only to motivate his side.
"It was a strange feeling to be told on the day of the game that it had been called off," he said.
"But that's just the way it was and we didn't get to have our say in the matter. It just means we'll be even more motivated for Friday."
Marseille's last league outing saw them snatch an incredible 5-5 draw at Lyon after coming back from 4-2 and then 5-4 down, and victory over PSG would take them to within three points of league leaders Bordeaux.
"It's always a special game and we're ready to do everything to take the three points," said Cheyrou.
"It's the first game of a big run for us as we'll be playing every three days until Christmas."
PSG will be without suspended skipper Claude Makelele for the trip to the south coast, but swine flu victims Mamadou Sakho, Ludovic Giuly, Jeremy Clement and Loris Arnaud have all returned to full fitness.
Antoine Kombouare's side are currently 13th in the table after a stuttering start to the season but victory on Friday night would move them level on 19 points with eighth-placed Marseille.
"We're going to go there in the right frame of mind to play well," said Sakho. "We know there are a lot of things that go on around a match like this, but we just have to concentrate on what happens on the pitch."
Defending champions Bordeaux signed off before the international break with a 2-0 defeat at improving Lille and on Saturday host a Valenciennes side who are the most prolific team in the division.
Philippe Montanier's men have not lost since a 3-2 defeat at Nice on October 3 and have scored a league-high 23 goals in their 12 games to date.
"The France team will need a rest," said a jocular Montanier, in reference to the mid-week exertions of Bordeaux's French international midfielders Yoann Gourcuff and Alou Diarra.
"It's understandable: Gourcuff and Diarra will need a rest on Saturday."
Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc, whose side travel to Turin to face Juventus in the Champions League on Tuesday, conceded that both players needed rest.
"Yoann Gourcuff came off with an adductor muscle problem," he said.
"We will see what it is. For Alou, playing 120 minutes in those conditions is psychologically very difficult."
Lyon, a point behind Bordeaux in second place, travel to Grenoble, who picked up their first point of the season in a 0-0 draw at Monaco last time out but are still 11 points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.
Third-placed Auxerre are the league's in-form team and will look to extend their winning streak to seven matches when they welcome fourth-placed Monaco to the Stade l'Abbe-Deschamps in Saturday's evening game.
Montpellier, promoted from Ligue 2 last season and riding high in sixth place, visit Lille on Sunday, while 10-time champions Saint-Etienne will hope to put further daylight between themselves and the relegation zone when they host fifth-placed Lorient.
Date created : 2009-11-20