Vintage Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andre-Pierre Gignac steal the show in Le Classique

Matthew Riding
Zlatan Ibrahimovich 300x225 Vintage Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andre Pierre Gignac steal the show in Le Classique

Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates against Marseille

Sunday evening left football fans across the world spoilt for choice.

The Milan derby between AC and Inter took place at the San Siro, the Camp Nou hosted the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid and at the Stade Velodrome, France’s two biggest clubs battled it out in Ligue 1’s showpiece event, as PSG travelled to league leaders Marseille.

Despite sitting over 500 miles apart, Marseille and PSG are two football clubs who share a hostility as intense as close city rivals.

The clash is a battle of south versus north, political beliefs, social class and culture.

The fixture, otherwise known as ‘Le Classique’, dates back to 1971, but the rivalry really came to prominence in the 1988-1989 season, when the two clubs faced each other in a virtual title decider. Marseille prevailed that day courtesy of a last minute Franck Sauzee goal, handing the southern French city club the title.

Although Sunday night’s game between Marseille and PSG wouldn’t necessarily decide where the Ligue 1 championship would be heading come May, it was a chance for both sides to lay down a marker and give their fans the bragging rights on Monday morning.

Prior to the game, Marseille and PSG occupied the top two spots in the league table, and both side’s success this year has largely been down to the form of their strikers.

Marseille’s Andre-Pierre Gignac and PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic have both been in great form this season, and it was those two who stole the show in Sunday’s 2-2 draw.

Come kick off, the Stade Velodrome was at its ferocious best, and a special atmosphere awaited the two teams as they walked out to contest the 66th Le Classique.

It was the home side who seemed to use the atmosphere to their advantage early on and went ahead when Gignac finished well from a wide angle after being played through by Ghana’s Andre Ayew.

This was the perfect start for Elie Baup’s side, especially after being crushed 4-1 in their last league fixture against Valenciennes.

PSG needed a response, and they got one from their talisman, Ibrahimovic, who incidentally became only the third player in the history of the game to have played in the Milan derby, the El Clasico and Le Classique (the other two being Laurent Blanc and Ronaldinho).

Ibrahimovic just oozes class, and his first goal here was nothing short of magnificent.

Full back Maxwell swung the corner in from the left and the giant Swede was there to audaciously flick home into the roof of the net. Genius.

Ibrahimovic is that good. He has unrivalled ability, and when you see him in this kind of form, it’s hard to fathom how his stint at Barcelona wasn’t a successful one.

And the player who has collectively cost the most money in the history of football (£180million) wasn’t finished there.

He doubled his and PSG’s tally with a splendid free kick from the edge of the box. His two goals in as many minutes gave the away side a 2-1 lead after just 25 minutes of play.

Despite Ibrahimovic’s world class brace, the Stade Velodrome remained vociferous and helped rally the home team back into the game. Marseille pressed and just seven minutes after PSG took the lead, Gignac headed home Mathieu Valbuena’s corner to level the score at 2-2.

The score would remain level until the break, and despite PSG perhaps shading possession in the second half, neither team didn’t really do enough to win the game and the match ended all square at 2-2.

Although the away side perhaps looked the more likely to snatch the points in the second period, the fact that they ended the match with six defenders and two defensive midfielders on the pitch suggests that they were happy with a point at a venue they have struggled at in the past.

PSG are the bookies’ overwhelming favourites to land the Ligue 1 title this year, but they will have to overcome their great rivals Marseille, who after this result remain three points ahead of the Parisians in the league table.

Stat Zone

- Andre-Pierre Gignac was the first Marseille player to score twice against PSG since Patrick Cubaynes in 1986.

- Thirty-three goals were scored in this weekend’s matches, the most so far for a round of games this season.

- Lille won for the first time at their new Grand Stade Lille Metropole stadium, beating Ajaccio 2-0.

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