Le Classique 2018/19 Review

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Melodrama in the Velodrome; A clash fitting of the iconic fixture.

 

Le Classique has just hit our screens for the 95th time in the history of the clubs, and we have been given plenty of talking points throughout the match. With the El Classico playing just hours earlier, providing a shocking scoreline of 5-1 in Barcelona’s favor, the football world was already on their toes and infected with the derby fever.

 

The starting lineup’s were questionable to say the least. Thomas Tuchel had Cavani sitting out due to an apparent injury, Mbappe starting on bench, and Choupo-Moting getting his first start for PSG since joining from Stoke in the most unpredictable transfer the football world saw last august.

 

Marseille saw (a rather animated) Rudi Garcia enter the game with Thauvin surprisingly making the starting lineup with a heel injury, and a confusing choice of forwards with no official striker playing up front.

 

The first half finished 0-0, but this scoreline doesn’t do itself justice. The drama wouldn’t occur until second half, but the opening 45 minutes saw a good matchup between Paris and Marseille. A constant issue with Neymar is his tendency to look unmotivated, apathetic and not interested in his duty to be the main outlet for the PSG attack, in this entire match was a testament to these analogies.

We were all well aware of Marseille’s lack of out-and-out strikers, as it seemed as if Payet was leading the line for the Velodrome’s forwards.

 

Crosses aiming for the likes of Payet, Ocampos and Thauvin would never frighten a PSG defence, therefore the main positive talking points can be credited to the Marseille midfield of Luiz Gustavo and Kevin Strootman. The pair gave a dominant performance, both players being the key reason to why Marseille stayed afloat in deep waters for such a drawn out period of time.

 

Florian Thauvin’s selection was suspicious due to his injury, and in the opening half of the derby, it was clear he was suffering whilst utilizing a limited play-style.

 

All factors considered, a lacklustre performance from a star-studded PSG side left questions to be asked about their ability to find the all important opening goal.

The second half was a drama filled period with fans throwing objects from the crowd at Neymar and Jordan Amavi. Both player reacted negatively towards the situation, with Neymar refusing to take his corner until the referee address the situation. Marseille defender Amavi was also targeted by the crowd, causing him to verbally retaliate, and receive a yellow card in doing so.

Soon Mbappe would be subbed on in what seemed the most eagerly anticipated substitution in history. The cameras wouldn’t leave him alone.

 

The Ligue 1 lead scorer would see his first touch translate into a GOAL for the away team, and celebrations would cause all kinds of food, drinks and other objects being thrown in their direction. 

 

Soon after the goal, both Germain and Mitroglou would be subbed on by Rudi Garcia, in a complete reverse from what lineup was previously provided by the French manager.

 

Mitroglou seemed as if he had tapped in a rebounded Luiz Gustavo shot past PSG goalkeeper Areola, until it was made apparent that the referee had called a free kick seconds earlier.

A suspected foul outside the box committed by Strootman stopped a goal for his club, but upon watching the replays, it is clear there was no contact made.

 

Rudi Garcia is animated and furious, begging referee Benoit Bastien to refer to the Video Assistant Referee, but no such call is made and the game continued.

 

Eventually, a powerful counterattack lead by Mbappe for PSG would allow Julian Draxler to finish off the game with a tap-in from a wide shot by Neymar.

Overall, Le Classique allowed for many of questions and discussions to be made. Why was VAR not called upon for the Mitroglou goal? Why does Neymar still look so disinterested when playing for PSG? Must more extreme measures be taken to stop the abuse from the French crowds in such highly anticipated fixtures?

Kosta Diamantopoulos of La Trobe University

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