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Marseille must belie recent record in Le Classique to extend lead

Reigning French champions PSG have won each of the last five Le Classique encounters with Marseille, scoring twice per match in the previous seven meetings across all competitions. It’s no wonder, then, that Laurent Blanc’s boys are odds-on 8/13 favourites with Coral to be victorious again.

This season is the first time the Parisians’ domestic dominance has been challenged by Marseille, under eccentric Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa. His side lead Ligue 1 and PSG by four points, meaning even if the visitors lose at the Parc des Princes they cannot be overhauled.

Marseille are massive 9/2 outsiders to win in the French capital, but the unorthodox 3-3-3-1 formation employed by Bielsa has paid real dividends. His team have dropped just eight league points, compared to PSG’s dozen.

Blanc’s boys are division draw specialists, sharing the spoils on as many occasions (6) as they have won. PSG are unbeaten domestically this term, so odds of 11/4 on the spoils being shared again have to be considered too.

Worryingly for Bielsa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the first man since Jean-Peirre Papin to hit 30 goals in a season in Ligue 1, should be back for the hosts. The Sweden superstar has missed recent action with a heel problem. Back Zlatan to score on his return anytime here at an odds-on 4/5, or a better price of 10/3 to grab the opener.

Brazil’s understudy left back at the World Cup, Maxwell, was a surprise source of goals for PSG in this fixture last term, netting home and away. If he can repeat that feat anytime, then odds of 5/1 are attractive, but he is likely to be occupied by genuine Marseille wingplay.

Uruguay international Edinson Cavani has ably deputised for Ibrahimovic, however, and is 10/11 to net anytime and 7/2 to be on target first. It may surprise punters to learn, though, if you add the five league goals apiece netted by PSG’s superb strikeforce that matches the tally of Marseille top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac.

Bielsa’s all-out attack tactics have suited big centre forwards over the years. Gignac follows in the footsteps of Basque target man Fernando Llorente in relishing the lone striker role, when he worked under the ex-Argentina boss at Athletic Bilbao.

France frontman Gignac is Ligue 1’s joint-leading marksman with Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon, and is a tempting 15/8 anytime scorer chance, having netted against PSG plenty in the past.

It’s a shame for Bielsa that Ghana attacker Andre Ayew is sidelined, because he too boasts a brilliant scoring record against the Parisians. More will be expected of France’s creative present and future in Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin, who are both 10/3 chances in the anytime market.

This game is like a free hit for Bielsa, because of Marseille’s wretched recent record in Le Classique and the fact they cannot match the financial muscle of PSG. Goals definitely look on the cards here, and a 2-2 draw is sensational value at 16/1.