With le clasico only hours away today, the great rivalry between Olympique Marseille and PSG is scheduled for another titanic battle of skill, passion and honour. This match transcends general league action for club and loyal supporters and it is quite obvious that PSG's lack of interest in this weeks UEFA Cup match against Schalke 04 is further proof of the importance of this match.
As it relates to injuries PSG will be without Ludovic Giuly and promising young striker Loris Arnaud, who injured his knee in the Schalke match and is expected out for four months. Marseille is fully fit and fatigue from this weeks Champions League match is said not to be a concern.
It is worthy to note that for our Côte d'Azur rivals, a victory could not only extend their unbeaten season but see them climb to the top of the Ligue 1 table, which is of-course not only a motivating factor for their concerns but a delectable opportunity to play the spoiler for PSG. While l'OM suffered an uncharacteristic 2-0 this week to PSV, manager Eric Gerets is confident of victory:
"Given all the criticism that we've come in for, there'll be a certain amount of pride, and the stadium will be full."
Furthering his comments and Pape Diouf's sentiments for inspired victory over PSG
"If anyone needs motivation in that case - where we have to show ourselves worthy of our supporters - then we would be in trouble. I hope, I know we're going to win on Sunday."
Historically l'OM holds a distinct advantage, victorious in roughly two-thirds of their matches and unbeaten in the last five. However the matches are always notably tight and even amongst the dark storms of last season, PSG fought the good fight, going to the final whistle going down 2-1.
Triumph over Marseille will only come through patience and if I can say, understanding the crest you play for. That might be a challenge in a match where few have come up through the academy but there was a time when the passion was as layered thick and tensions ran high. For those that embrace that special bond with club, each tackle will be a bit stronger, each run more aggressive and victory will be closer. PSG needs inspiration from within the midfield in both aspects of play with special reference to Stéphane Sessegnon, a young man who yearned to play under PSG colours and now has the chance on le clasico stage. The leadership Claude Makélélé has yet to be called upon as PSG captain as it will today as he will need to steady the forces within the confines of boisterous Stade Vélodrome.