Le Classique

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Le Classique
PSG-OM 2007.jpg
PSG vs. OM at the Parc des Princes in 2007.
Other names Le Classico
Derby de France
French clásico
Locale France, Europe
Teams Paris Saint-Germain
Olympique de Marseille
First meeting OM 4–2 PSG (1971)
Stadiums Parc des Princes (PSG)
Stade Vélodrome (OM)
Meetings total 91 (official matches)
Most wins PSG (38)
Most player appearances Steve Mandanda (22)
Top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimović (11)
Largest victory PSG 5–1 OM (1978)
OM 1–5 PSG (2017)

Le Classique (French pronunciation: ​[lə klasik], The Classic),[1] also known as Le Classico,[2] Derby de France,[1] or French clásico,[3] is a football match contested between French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille. Unlike most derbies, the rivalry is not a product of close proximities—it involves the two largest cities in France.[1]

The PSG vs. OM rivalry transcends the boundaries of the pitch in France. It features the hub of French society and style in Paris against the port city of the working class in Marseille. North against south and the kingpin of the southern provinces against the political center of the capital city adds the political dimension to this rivalry.[1]

The duo are the only two French clubs to have won European trophies and were the dominant forces in the land prior to the emergence of Olympique Lyonnais at the start of the millennium. Yet despite their recent travails, Paris SG and l'OM remain, along with AS Saint-Étienne, the only French clubs with a big history pre-millennium, adding to the appeal of the country's biggest fixture.[3]

They are the two most popular clubs in France, and are also the most followed French clubs outside the country. Both teams are at or near the top of the attendance lists every year as well. Since their first meeting in 1971, these two clubs have squared off in what many believe is France's biggest rivalry.[1] PSG vs. OM is also considered to be one of the greatest in club football.[4]

At the very least, it is France’s most violent. Le Classique increased in importance and ferocity during the late 1980s as PSG and Marseille battled each other for the Ligue 1 title. The rivalry grew into the national spotlight as PSG owners Canal + and Marseille's Bernard Tapie promoted the matches between these clubs to a confrontational level. Important security measures are taken to prevent confrontations between the fans, but violent episodes still often occur when the duo meet.[1]


The origins[edit]

Bernard Tapie and Canal + promoted the rivalry.

Like all the game's major rivalries, the enmity between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille extends beyond the pitch. The so-called French "clásico" has a historical, cultural and social importance that makes it more than just a football match, pitting as it does north against south, capital against province and the chosen ones of French football against its enfants terribles.[3]

The fixture may have produced plenty of talking points and great goals over the years, but as football duels go, it is a relatively recent one. While the southerners have been around for over a century now, the Parisians only came into being in 1970 and in their early meetings there was little indication the two would become deadly adversaries. All that would change in the mid-1980s, when PSG began to collect silverware and harbour ambitions that reflected their status as a big team from the capital.[3]

With the arrival of Bernard Tapie as OM president and television station Canal + as PSG owners, the two sides began to flex their muscles in the transfer market. Stars of the stature of Chris Waddle, Jean-Pierre Papin, Rudi Völler, Basile Boli and Enzo Francescoli checked in at the Stade Vélodrome, while Paris responded with the signings of David Ginola, Youri Djorkaeff, George Weah and Raí. Having long been enemies for a variety of historical and cultural reasons, the cities of Paris and Marseille now had another outlet for their mutual antipathy, with constant sniping in the press adding to the tension whenever the two sides met.[3]

Facts and figures[edit]

Marseille dominated the fixture for many years and did not lose to their northern rivals between 1990 and 1999, although they did spend two seasons in the second division during that time. Since then PSG have all but caught up, putting together a spectacular run of eight consecutive wins between 2002 and 2004. And when they prevailed at the Vélodrome in October 2013, the Red-and-Blues took their tally of wins to 31, just one behind Marseille.[3]

When l'OM became the first French side to win the UEFA Champions League in 1993, their fans greeted the triumph by chanting "A jamais les premiers" (Forever First). Those words could just as easily apply to the inaugural meeting between the two teams in 1971, which ended in a comprehensive 4-2 win for a Marseille side inspired by the strike duo of Roger Magnusson and Josip Skoblar. For their part, PSG fans have fond memories of 2003, when their heroes came out on top three times in all, including two wins at the Vélodrome, one of them a 3–0 triumph made memorable by a superlative performance from Ronaldinho.[3]

The rivalry has been marred with injuries and arrests over the years. In 1995, fighting during the semifinal of the French Cup between PSG and Marseille resulted in 146 arrests and nine policemen hospitalized. In 2000, a Marseille fan was paralyzed for life after being struck by a seat thrown from the PSG section in Paris. Even fans of the same team have turned on each other as in 2010 a PSG supporter was put into a coma and eventually died after being attacked by members of another PSG supporters group.[1]

Despite the hostilities, many players have worn the shirt of both clubs and have subsequently suffered abuses from the rival supporters. The 2004 French Cup final was marred by the persistent barracking of PSG captain Frédéric Déhu, who, it had been revealed earlier in the week would be joining deadly rivals OM when his contract expired at the end of the season. He was even jeered when he collected the trophy and subsequently disappeared straight down the tunnel in tears, failing to return for the lap of honour.[5]

Months later, Fabrice Fiorèse slammed the door at PSG after a confrontation with then manager Vahid Halilhodžić. He was transferred to Marseille in stormy conditions and went from being a fan favorite to being the most hated. Upon their return to the Parc des Princes, Déhu and Fiorèse were effectively whistled and chanted out of a Clasico by Paris fans outraged by his transfer to their arch-rivals.[5]

Tales of past derbies[edit]

PSG fans at the 2006 Coupe de France Final.

Over the years, Le Classique has had a large impact on the domestic game, determining the fate of many a piece of silverware. The 1989 clash at the Vélodrome, for example, played a major part in shaping the rivalry as we know it today. With just three games left in the season, the match was a virtual title decider. And the championship looked to be heading the visitors' way when the score remained locked at 0–0 with just a few seconds remaining. A long-range strike by Franck Sauzée, however, gave Marseille the points and set them on the road to their first league crown since 1972.[3]

An equally unforgettable incident came just three years later when then-PSG coach Artur Jorge announced in the build-up that his side would "walk all over" their opponents. Seizing the opportunity to motivate his players, President Tapie cut out the offending newspaper article and stuck it up in the Marseille dressing room. Sure enough, 90 minutes, later they walked away with the points.[3]

Another memorable Marseille date is 29 May 1993, a mere three days after they had defeated Milan in the UEFA Champions League final. The newly crowned continental kings and championship leaders welcomed their closest challengers in a match that would determine the destiny of the title. Drained by their European celebrations, l'OM quickly fell behind, only to hit back with three quick goals. Among them was undoubtedly the finest goal ever scored in the fixture to date: a sumptuous team move capped by a stunning 18-yard header from Basile Boli.[3]

The men from the Parc des Princes can console themselves with two dramatic victories of their own. In 1999 a struggling PSG side earned a 2–1 win over championship contenders Marseille, their first over their rivals in many years. What made the triumph even more special for the Parisians was the fact that Marseille would finish the season a point behind eventual champions Bordeaux. When the two sides met in the 2006 Coupe de France Final, Paris made light of their relegation worries to upset the final favourites 2–1, with Vikash Dhorasoo scoring the goal of the night.[3]

The rivalry today[edit]

PSG players celebrate the 2005–06 Coupe de France title after defeating arch-rivals Marseille in the final.

Since the mid-1990s, with rare exceptions, both teams have rarely been at their best at the same time. And though Marseille were generally more frequent challengers over the past decade, there has been a discernible power-shift since the arrival of Qatar Sports Investments in control of Paris SG during 2011.[3]

Now with the financial resources that have allowed them to build a squad that can compete with the best clubs in Europe, it has looked like PSG will have the upper hand in this rivalry for years to come. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva are part of an all star lineup that Ligue 1 has not seen since the early 1990s Marseille squads.[1]

On the flip side, Marseille has fallen behind since Qatari investors took over Paris SG. While the capital side has won the last four French titles, the Olympians have struggled to keep up. l'OM has not won a trophy since winning the League Cup in 2012, under the former coach Didier Deschamps. He won the league title in his first campaign during the 2009–10 season and added three League Cup titles.[6]

Since Deschamps left in 2012, l'OM have found it tough going.[6] However, Marseille's new owner Frank McCourt pledged in 2016 to spend 200 million euros over the next four years to make the team competitive again, and the recent arrivals of Dimitri Payet and Patrice Evra have boosted fans' hopes that their team will be able to compete with PSG.[7]

Currently, Paris SG are unbeaten in their last 14 games against the Phocians in all competitions, the longest run in Classico history.[8] Since the club's last victory in November 2011, Marseille has lost 12 and drawn two.[7] In February 2017, PSG won 1–5 to inflict OM's worst home defeat in Ligue 1 since a 0–4 loss to Nîmes Olympique in 1953.[8]

The impressive victory was Paris SG's biggest-ever at the Stade Vélodrome, beating the 0–3 they registered in 2003. PSG had never scored 5 goals away to l'OM.[1] The Red-and-Blues also recorded their fifth consecutive win at the Vélodrome. Moreover, it was only the third time that a team had won by a four-goal margin between Paris SG and Marseille. In 1978, PSG won by the same scoreline at the Parc des Princes (5–1), while the Olympians recorded a 4–0 home win in 1986.[2]


PSG players celebrating the 2014–15 Ligue 1 title.
Marseille players lifting the 2011 Trophée des Champions.
Paris SG Competition Marseille
6 Ligue 1 9
1 Ligue 2 1
10 Coupe de France 10
6 Coupe de la Ligue 3
6 Trophée des Champions 3
Coupe Charles Drago 1
29 Total 27
UEFA Champions League 1
UEFA Europa League
UEFA Super Cup
FIFA Club World Cup
1 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
1 UEFA Intertoto Cup 1
2 Total 2
31 Overall total 29
[9] Source [10]

Official matches[edit]

Fans from both clubs at the 2006 Coupe de France Final.
As of 26 February 2017.[11]
Competition Matches PSG Goals Draws OM Goals
Ligue 1 76 27 96 18 31 100
Coupe de France 12 9 23 2 1 11
Coupe de la Ligue 2 2 5 0 0 2
Trophée des Champions 1 0 0 1 0 0
Total 91 38 124 21 32 113
Olympique de Marseille Draw (including penalties) Paris Saint-Germain


Starting elevens in the 2010 Trophée des Champions that Marseille won on penalties.

Biggest wins[edit]

  • Paris SG
    • 5–1 home (1978).
    • 1–5 away (2017).
  • Marseille
    • 4–0 home (1986).
    • 0–3 away (2010).

Most goals in a match[edit]

  • 7 goals: Paris SG 4–3 Marseille (1979).
  • 6 goals: Paris SG 5–1 Marseille (1978).
  • 6 goals: Marseille 1–5 Paris SG (2017).
  • 6 goals: Marseille 2–4 Paris SG (2016).

Longest runs[edit]

  • Unbeaten
    • 12 wins, 2 draws: Paris SG (2012–present)
    • 8 wins, 1 draw: Paris SG (2002–2005)
    • 6 wins, 3 draws: Marseille (1990–1994)
    • 6 wins: Paris SG (1979–1984)
    • 4 wins, 1 draw: Marseille (1975–1977)
    • 3 wins, 2 draws: Marseille (1971–1975)
  • Winning
    • 10 wins: Paris SG (2012–2016)
    • 8 wins: Paris SG (2002–2004)
    • 6 wins: Paris SG (1979–1984)


PSG's star lineup in the 2010s.
  • Paris SG at home
    • Highest attendance: 48,000 (at the Parc des Princes in 1994).
    • Lowest attendance: 13,707 (at the Parc des Princes in 1979).
  • Marseille at home
    • Highest attendance: 65,252 (at the Stade Vélodrome in 2017).
    • Lowest attendance: 5,556 (at the Stade Vélodrome in 1979).


Steve Mandanda is Le Classique's all-time leading appearance-maker.
Zlatan Ibrahimović holds the record for most goals in French clásico history.

Most appearances[edit]

Name Position Club Period Appearances
France Steve Mandanda GK Marseille 2007–2016 22
France Sylvain Armand DF Paris SG 2004–2013 18
Argentina Gabriel Heinze DF Paris SG
France Blaise Matuidi MF Paris SG 2011– 12
Portugal Pauleta FW Paris SG 2003–2008 11

Top scorers[edit]

Name Position Club Period Goals
Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović FW Paris SG 2012–2016 11
Portugal Pauleta FW Paris SG 2003–2008 6
France Hervé Florès FW Marseille 1975–1981 5
France André-Pierre Gignac FW Marseille 2010–2015 4
Ghana André Ayew MF Marseille 2007–2015 4
Algeria Mustapha Dahleb FW Paris SG 1974–1984 4
Republic of the Congo François M'Pelé FW Paris SG 1973–1979 4
Croatia Josip Skoblar FW Marseille 1966–1967,


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Joey Barton puts the "punch" back into the Marseille-PSG rivalry". Bleacher Report. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Succès historique dans un Classico !". LFP.fr. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "France's passion play". FIFA.com. Retrieved 25 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "THE LIST: The greatest rivalries in club football, Nos 50-41". Daily Mail Online. 13 September 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "PSG-OM : ces «traîtres» qui passent à l'ennemi". Le Figaro. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt to Buy French Soccer Team Marseille". Miami Herald. 29 August 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "PSG destroys Marseille 5-1 in French league". Miami Herald. 26 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "La victoire en chiffres - Marseille - Paris : 1-5". PSG.fr. 27 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Paris S-G Titles". Footballdatabase.eu. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Marseille Titles". Footballdatabase.eu. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "Paris S-G vs. Marseille". Footballdatabase.eu. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 

External links[edit]

Official Websites