Betting preview: Marseille vs PSG - Le Classique may not be a classic but it will be feisty

There aren't years of rivalry between these two sides but there is history - recent history - and that suggests cards..and goals for a certain Lionel Messi.

With last year's 'Battle of Paris' still fresh in the memory, the Marseille vs Paris Saint-Germain rivalry resumes on Sunday night.

Our Andy Schooler takes a look at Le Classique, digging through the historical stats - from goals to cards - to find some potential betting angles.

When: Sunday, October 24

Time: 7.45pm BST

How to watch: BT Sport 2.

Marseille vs PSG is not a geographical rivalry

Lionel Messi, PSG, Champions League

It is not even a long-running one. But it has certainly become one of soccer's fiercest.

It is often forgotten that Paris Saint-Germain were not formed until 1970 so this isn't a fixture that has deep-rooted history. However, PSG quickly became challengers in French soccer and come the mid-1980s, the pair were title rivals and Le Classique was born.

That rivalry soon became bitter with allegations of match-fixing thrown by PSG - Olympique de Marseille, to give them their full name, would eventually be stripped of their 1992/93 Ligue 1 championship with owner Bernard Tapie jailed for his part in the scandal.

The flamboyant Tapie spent big during his time at the helm, attracting players including Chris Waddle, Eric Cantona and Jean-Pierre Papin.

Chris Waddle Marseille Jul91

Marseille were European champions in the early '90s but these days it is PSG who hold sway in France, largely due to the money invested by their Qatari owners which has seen Lionel MessiNeymar and Kylian Mbappe arrive.

Marseille have struggled since the takeover but the rivalry still burns strong with plenty of fuel added to the fire in recent meetings. Last September's 'Battle of Paris' saw no fewer than five players sent off and allegations of racist and homophobic comments flew.

The feuds of that game have spilled over into matches since - more on that below.

PSG the dominant force

Cengiz Under Marseille Oct21

By winning that 'Battle of Paris' clash last year, Marseille ended a 20-game run without a victory over PSG. That emphasises the struggles they've had to endure at their rivals' hands since the Qatari takeover at the Parc des Princes.

Since the Middle Eastern money arrived at PSG in 2011, Marseille have won only two of the clubs' 24 meetings, losing 19. PSG have won seven French titles in that period.

Unless they win at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday, their winless home run against PSG will stretch beyond the 10-year mark.

The good news for Marseille is they've started the season very well with loan signings Matteo Guendouzi and Cengiz Under both shining brightly. They sit third, a point behind second-placed Lens with a game in hand.

The bad news is PSG are the early leaders and are already threatening to run away from the rest. They've won nine of 10 so far and even if they were to lose on Sunday, Marseille would still be seven points behind, albeit having played a game less.

Goals to flow again?

Given the money PSG have lavished on forwards in the past decade, it's no surprise to learn that over 2.5 goals has landed more often than not since that Qatari money flooded into PSG. Fifteen of the 24 meetings since that day have featured three or more goals.

The both-teams-to-score stats are less favourable for 'yes' backers - 11 of 24 have since seen both teams find the net.

That shows PSG's ability to win the game 'to nil', something they've done 10 times in the study period, with nine of their victories coming with both teams scoring.

Mbappe on a roll

Kylian Mbappe has scored more Le Classique goals in Ligue 1 than any other player in the current squads.

His tally of six is only bettered by Edinson Cavani (7) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11) in the fixture's history. Those goals have come in just seven appearances, with the World Cup winner having netted in each of his last five league games against OM.

Mbappe has already scored five times in the league this season, although that tally is matched by Marseille's Dimitri Payet. Both men have also had four assists.

Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring by penalty kick during a French Ligue 1 football match between Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Angers SCO in Paris, France, Oct. 15, 2021.

Payet scored against PSG in January's Trophee des Champions clash (the French equivalent of the Community Shield) but that remains his only goal against them in 12 games for Marseille.

Others to have made a mark on this fixture include Angel di Maria (five goals in 14 appearances) and Mauro Icardi, who has four goals in just three games, scoring in every one.

Remarkably, no player has ever scored a hat-trick in Le Classique. Lionel Messi twice scored three against Real Madrid in El Clasico, Spain's equivalent fixture. Just saying…

Battle has turned heat up on rivalry

As already pointed out, if the fire of rivalry was flickering a little due to PSG's dominance, it was certainly reignited in September 2020 when a record 19 cards were shown in the famous 'Battle of Paris'.

Five of them were coloured red with a massive booking points total of 245 arising. For the uninitiated, it's 10 for a yellow and 25 for a red. There has now been a red card shown in four of the last nine meetings.

Across a study period of 10 games, there have been 50+ booking points in seven of them and 60+ in five. Meanwhile, 20+ booking points for each team has also landed in seven of the 10.

The referee for the latest encounter will be Benoit Bastien, one of France's top officials, who regularly takes charge of Champions League matches. He's shown 16 yellows and one red in his four Ligue 1 games this term. He averaged 3.63 yellows per game and showed nine reds in 19 games.

In short, he's a fairly middle-of-the-road appointment. Bastien has plenty of experience of Le Classique - he's taken charge of one of the meetings in each of the last six seasons.

He's largely managed to keep a lid on things, with one notable exception, as the booking-points totals show (most recent first): 55-30-60-110-40-50. In five of those six games, 20+ booking points has landed for each side.

Follow fallout in cards hunt

As for player cards, it may well pay to remember what happened in that 'Battle of Paris' 13 months ago.

Much of the animosity stemmed from Payet's social-media taunting of PSG after they lost the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern Munich. He could well be targeted again.

The aftermath of the game, which ended with that flurry of red cards, saw Neymar accuse Alvaro Gonzalez of a racist comment, while the Brazilian himself was alleged to have used a homophobic term in response.

Their spat continued the next time they met with Alvaro subjecting Neymar to a series of fouls, for which he was booked. In addition, Angel di Maria, who did not receive a red card on the day, was later banned for four games over a spitting incident.

PSG-Marseille

Payet has been carded in four of his 12 appearances in Le Classique, including both Ligue 1 meetings last season (he saw red in Marseille with Bastien in charge).

Alvaro has two cards in three against PSG but may not start this weekend - there's definite in-play potential if he comes off the bench.

On the PSG side of things, Neymar has seen a card in two of four starts in this fixture, while Di Maria is on a run of four cards in his last eight against Marseille.

A couple of other names to throw into the ring are those of Papa Gueye and Jordan Amavi, although neither is guaranteed to start.

If he does make the XI, defensive midfielder Gueye is likely to be a busy man with the likes of Messi dipping into his area of the pitch.

He's been carded in two of three against PSG and is on a run of 11 cards in his last 31 Ligue 1 appearances.

Meanwhile, left-back Amavi has been carded in three of four starts in the fixture and is another potentially tasked with stopping Messi.

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