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10-man PSG were held to a goalless draw by Olympique Marseille on Sunday night in the French Ligue 1. PSG’s struggles continued as the side struggles in big matches but a draw was a decent result given they played the better part of half an hour with a man less after Achraf Hakimi was sent off.



The match started on even footing with Marseille going toe-to-toe with PSG in the opening stages. They had a good chance from a set-piece with Arek Milk heading wide but the Polish striker might have been offside anyway. PSG had the ball in the back of the net in the 14th minute when Neymar’s cross was turned in by Luan Peres but the Brazilian was offside when played in Angel di Maria and the goal was ruled out.

Kylian Mbappe had a half-chance coming in off the right hand side but he shot wide. It was Marseille’s turn to have a goal ruled out in the 20th minute when Milik finished neatly past Keylor Navas from Pol Lirola’s cutback. The winger however was also offside, like Neymar earlier, and the goal was ruled out by VAR.

The match was then marred by fan trouble as the Marseille fans were warned for throwing projectiles at Neymar when he was near the home end to take a corner. That seemed to induce a lull into the match until just before the break when Cengiz Under broke through and was bearing down on goal but was thwarted by a brilliant tackle from Achraf Hakimi.



Lionel Messi shot just wide but Pochettino had a major concern with Marco Verrati having to be substituted after a clash with Marseille’s Matteo Guendouzi. Idrissa Gueye was thrown on just before the break as the teams headed into the interval level in a match with chances scarce in the first 45.

The match had more action in the second half with Hakimi being sent off before the hour mark – the PSG full back was again caught out of position after Dmitri Payet played a wonderful pass through to Under. Hakimi tried to get back but ended up bringing the Marseille winger down just outside the penalty area. After a short VAR check, the referee decided that it was a denial of a goalscoring opportunity and Hakimi was sent for an early shower.



Marseille should have had the lead after the hour mark after a delightful cross from Payet who was turning on the style in the second half. His cross found the head of Valentin Rongier who should have hit the target but was only able to nod it wide of the far post. Substitute Konrad then missed a gilt-edged chance in the 77th minute when a good cross from the right found his way to him at the back post. The 20-year old American though fumbled his volley wide to the relief of Navas and the rest of the PSG side.

Marseille pushed but PSG were always comfortable defending and the match ended in a stalemate. Here are our key takeaways from the match –



The French Classique was in the news for the wrong reasons this week after PSG fans were banned from the stadium over fears of crowd trouble. Marseille fans were also involved in a major scrap against Nice in August which led to the match being suspended and they also clashed with Angers fans last month.



They have already been banned from away games from the rest of the season and it looks like there may be action needed for home games as well. Even with no away fans, the Marseille faithful were disorderly and interrupted the match. Projectiles were thrown at Neymar and Messi and fans were also shining laser lights into the players’ eyes. The culture around the team and in the league in general is getting increasingly concerning. The fans want to enjoy the match and this kind of behaviour usually does not end well for any party involved.



PSG have one of the most exciting squads in history but the sheer amount of luxurious talent at Mauricio Pochettino’s disposal has caused him problems with respect to the team’s balance. The front three of Neymar, Messi and Mbappe have almost zero defensive contribution which causes Poch to play a highly conservative midfield.



However, the midfield then has problems getting the ball upto the front three and the PSG side looks blunt. They have got important wins over Manchester City and Leipzig in the Champions League but one doubts that they will be competing for European honours with this lineup and structure.



Olympique Marseille have struggled for consistency over the past few years and the arrival of Jorge Sampaoli in the dugout has not reversed this trend. The squad has potential with a nice blend of youth and experience but they do not seem to be able to be greater than the sum of their parts.

They are currently fourth in the league but only three points separate them and Lorient in 11th. They are 10 points off the top of the table and are yet to win in the Europa League. The side has drawn all three of their European games so far and risk exiting at the group stage. If the club wants to get back to its glory days then major changes are needed.

Ritwik Khanna
Economics student supporting FC Goa and Manchester United, in true masochistic way. Can be found reading Jonathan Wilson and Sid Lowe or planning a quirky trip in his free time.

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