Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain prepare to host Marseille in Le Classique on Sunday, and Edinson Cavani and Blaise Matuidi are relishing the prospect of what they describe as a “special” fixture.
PSG have begun the season in fine fashion, winning six and drawing two of their opening eight league outings to open up a four-point lead over Saint-Etienne at the top of the standings.
By contrast Marseille, who looked like title contenders in the early stages of 2014-15 before falling away badly to finish fourth, have struggled for form this time around with just two wins to their name thus far.
And recent history is not on the visitors’ side, with no win against the capital city club in their last nine meetings.
PSG completed a league double over their rivals last season, with Matuidi netting a stunning curling effort in a 3-2 success at the Stade Velodrome.
“It was a great goal!” he told PSG’s official website.
“Especially since it was against Steve Mandanda, a good friend of mine. That I scored like that with my right foot surprised a few people.
“It’s a special match, separate from the rest of the season. It may only be worth three points, but it’s also worth more than that. We all know it.
“When you sign for PSG, people always talk to you about Le Classique. It’s a special match. We will be there, ready, like we always have been in recent seasons.”
“The matches against Marseille are always special,” added Cavani, who has six Ligue 1 goals this season.
“Every player wants to play these kind of games. We know what it means for the whole city.”
PSG have won all of their past three matches across all competitions, scoring 10 goals in the process, while Marseille are winless in four, including a 1-0 home loss to Slovan Liberec in the Europa League on Thursday.
One man who has more reason to celebrate than his Marseille team-mates at present is Lassana Diarra, who was called into the France national squad this week, ending a five-year absence.
And, like Matuidi and Cavani, the former Real Madrid man is eagerly awaiting the chance to feature in such a huge fixture.
“Everyone is excited to play this game,” he said.
“Against PSG, we have only one idea in mind – take the points. We go to the Parc des Princes with this ambition.
“I was born in Paris, but I have the Marseille logo on the heart. I have great respect for Paris Saint-Germain, they do a good job.”
PSG coach Laurent Blanc has a fully-fit squad to choose from, while Marseille have doubts over Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, who is struggling with a groin problem.