Marseille Win First Le Classique in Nine Years Amid Red Card Drama


17 cards were shown, a record for a Ligue 1 game in the 21st Century. 10 years since Marseille last won at the Parc dec Princes, nine years since their last victory against Paris Saint-Germain at all. Many records and demons were ended last night in the clash between France’s two biggest football teams.

It was a game of tactical intrigue but more of spirit, determination and genuine bad blood between the two sides. The fire was stoked before the match even started, by Tuchel’s comments about Marseille fans celebrating PSG’s champions league final loss, due to them not being able to celebrate anything Marseille have done recently. A comment which would have surely reached and annoyed the Marseille players.

Marseille Defeat Paris Saint-Germain But Last Minute Brawl Steals the Headlines

First Chances and Flare-ups

The game started off at a frantic pace with PSG almost scoring in the first minute. A cross came in from the right-hand side with Marco Verratti’s run into the box almost resulting in a goal. The game carried on with this pace, but in terms of fouls, not clear cut chances. It was not long before the first flare-up of many happened.

Payet and Neymar got into it when Neymar accidentally hit Payet’s head whilst he was on the floor. The Frenchman thought it was on purpose and the pushing and shoving began. Both got given yellows for this incident, a marker of things to come.

It was hard within the first 20 minutes for Marseille to build any possession. PSG’s high press forced them to go long. With Thauvin and Lopez taking turns as the false nine, none of whom are target men, they could not get anything going. Defensively, however, Marseille did well. Out of possession, they were in a 4-5-1 formation which limited any space centrally for PSG and forced them out wide. The problem for them was that Payet, who started out as a wingerm was not covering Florenzi, PSG’s right-back. This led to him putting in a few crosses in the box, which for the the most part, Marseille dealt well with.

Marseille’s Goal

Chances were at a premium for Marseille. Their best chance coming from a Rongier shot from 25 yards out which, after a fumble, Rico claimed. It was against the run of play, on the 31st minute when Marseille took the lead. After some dogged work by Boubacar Kamara in midfield, who seemingly completed three tackles in five seconds, a foul was given about 40 yards out.

Payet stood over it and whipped it into the far post. Thauvin at the back post by himself slotted it in. 1-0 Marseille. It was close to being offside, but according to VAR, Thauvin timed his run perfectly. It was a good cross by Payet, but Sergio Rico, in for Keylor Navas, should have come out and claimed the ball.

After this goal, Marseille went back into their shape and frustrated PSG. With their determination and defensive shape, they came into the break 1-0 up, but not without any incidents. Di Maria and Alvaro Gonzalez had a flare-up, with Di Maria claiming that Gonzalez kicked him off the ball whilst PSG were on the attack.

Not long after, Gonzalez himself was screaming for a VAR check as he claimed Di Maria spat in his direction. Cameras showed that Di Maria did do so, and it seems that Di Maria will be banned in the days to come for this. However, during this check, Neymar came gesturing to the fourth official and the Marseille bench that Gonzalez had made a racist remark towards him. This was given no heed by the fourth official and it would be something that Neymar would again repeat at the end of the game.

Halftime was needed for the referee as well as the players as the referee had lost all control of the game. This was shown when he gave Marseille’s Papa Gueye a yellow card for a perfect tackle on Neymar. It seemed like Le Classique was too big of an occasion for the referee.

Second Half

The second half came with no changes made by either side. The only difference was that Payet started as the false nine, with Lopez being played out left. Marseille continued to frustrate PSG with their defensive stability. The midfield of Gueye, Kamara and Rongier did excellent in and out of position.

Rongier, in particular, was brilliant, and always made the right decision with the ball. Marseille carried more of a threat as Thauvin carried the ball much more this half from the right-hand side. This led to them being a little more stretched at times and led to chances for both sides.

Neymar tried to provide a spark the whole game and he almost dragged PSG back by himself on a few occasions. He drove with the ball from the left-hand side and dragged a few players towards him. He then released the ball to Florenzi who was in acres of space. Florenzi, first time, played it to Sarabia in the box who shot it straight at Mandanda.

Then, Bernat played Neymar the ball who was on the edge of the box of the left-hand side. The Brazilian took a quick shot which was deflected and again, Mandanda saved with his legs. A solid performance by the Marseille legend. Idrissa Gueye then created a chance after driving with the ball from midfield and dinking it into the path of Di Maria. He then bent it bottom corner, before the move was rightfully called offside.

Chances for Both PSG and Marseille

Throughout the whole game, Marseille never looked like they were going to push for a second. they would have had one, too, if not for a contentious offside decision. After a Marseille corner was headed out, the ball was played back to Thauvin who was on the edge of the box. His shot was then saved by Sergio Rico, and the ball landed to Dario Benedetto, who had come on for Papa Gueye. The Argentine player then lashed it in, but it was given offside as Thauvin was judged to have stepped up.

VAR decided that the goal was offside and play continued. However, replays show that Thauvin was just onside as the ball was played to him. It seemed like everyone involved with the officiating had a night to forget.

PSG pushed for the equaliser, with Neymar almost scoring after a brilliant team move. Bernat, who was on the wing, played in Sarabia after a brilliant underlapping run. He then pulled the ball across goal, and Neymar could only get his studs on it and the ball went agonisingly wide.

Even with the introduction of Julian Draxler, it seemed like there was no way that PSG would breach Marseille’s defence. Nevertheless, the main talking point of the match would occur in the dying seconds of the game. Six minutes were given in extra time. In the fifth minute, all hell broke loose.

Paredes, who came on as a substitute for PSG, was fouled by Benedetto on the halfway line. In a fit of rage, Paredes then pushed Benedetto over and all the players came rushing as the pushing and shoving ensued.

The red Cards

In the ensuing melee, Paredes then turned to Gonzales and pushed him over. Kurzawa, another substitute who originally acted as a peacekeeper, was seemingly pushed by Jordan Amavi. The two exchange pushes before beginning  to kick one another. Alongside all this happening, Neymar and Alvaro Gonzalez, who had just been seen jarring at one another just beforehand, went head to head.

After all of this cooled down, the referee gave a red card to Benedetto and Amavi for Marseille, and to Paredes and Kurzawa for PSG. Then after being advised to look at the pitchside monitor, the referee then gave a red to Neymar. The replays showed that he struck Gonzalez on the back of the head. As he was walking off, Neymar accused  Gonzalez of racism again.

If Gonzalez is found guilty, then the french federation needs to send out a message with their punishment. This can not be tolerated in today’s society and off the back of the Black Lives Matter movement, french football needs to show their solidarity alongside Neymar,  and show this behaviour can not be allowed or tolerated in their league.

This result leaves PSG with no points after two matchdays, with no goals scored as well. Maybe they are suffering from a champions league hangover. If so, they will need to get over it soon. The manner in which they have lost is the pressing issue at hand. They have hardly created any chances and look stale in their build-up. Tuchel will need to sort this out as soon as possible. Marseill,e on the other hand, will be ecstatic. For good or bad, this derby game will be remembered for a long time.

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