Paris Saint-Germain star Angel Di Maria is eagerly anticipating Sunday’s Classique clash with Marseille at Stade Velodrome.
The Argentina forward got his first taste of one of French football’s hottest rivalries back in October when PSG saw off Marseille 2-1 in Paris thanks to two Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalties.
Di Maria is well aware of the animosity between the clubs and cannot wait to travel south as runaway leaders PSG – who sit some 21 points clear of Monaco in second – attempt to maintain their unbeaten Ligue 1 record this season.
“My team-mates have all told me about the importance of the match against OM,” Di Maria told L’Equipe.
“Everyone was talking to me about Marseille ahead of the reverse fixture in October. People in the streets were asking me to score three or four goals and my team-mates told me that I would soon understand the importance of the game.
“Like in all classics, there is a lot of pressure. I love it when there’s such an atmosphere at the stadium. Everything just smells of football and the fans are singing so loud that you cannot even hear each other.
“[Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [Javier] Pastore told me all about it. It will be a bit like some games in Argentina. It will be great.”
Laurent Blanc’s men have not lost in their last 33 games in the top flight, winning 30 and drawing three. Additionally they are unbeaten in their last 17 Ligue 1 away games (winning 15 and drawing two) and have kept 11 clean sheets in this run, with Marseille’s last victory against PSG coming back in November 2011.
Marseille have not lost since the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Nice back in November, but their struggles at home give reason for concern.
But Michel’s men have won none of their last nine home games in the league (drawing seven, losing two). This is their longest run without winning at home in their Ligue 1 history.
Their 1-0 win over Montpellier on Tuesday saw them climb to eighth, though, and they are witinin five points of third-placed Nice in the final Champions League qualification spot.
Key Opta stats:
– Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had a hand in eight of PSG’s last 10 goals in Ligue 1 away games (six goals, two assists).
– Marseille have scored in their last 11 Ligue 1 games at home against PSG, their best run against the Parisians in the top flight.
– PSG have scored two goals or more in their last 10 games against Marseille.
– Marseille have registered five draws in a row in Velodrome, their longest run since October-December 1978 (also five).