Le Classique Betting Breakdown: Will Marseille Upset PSG?

Le Classique Betting Breakdown: Will Marseille Upset PSG? article feature image

Florian Thauvin via Msnico82, Wikimedia Commons

Fixtures between Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Marseille are always a date that both sets of fans pencil into their calendars at the start of the season. Supporters have a real treat over the next week, then, as the two come to blows twice in the space of three days, with the Coupe de France quarterfinals to follow this weekend’s match at Parc des Princes, PSG’s home stadium.

The matchup referred to in France as Le Classique certainly has the potential to live up to its billing this time around, following a series of one-sided clashes since the huge cash injection into PSG. Indeed, Olympique Marseille has failed to win any of the last 15 meetings between the sides in all competitions, though this current OM side arguably has a better chance of ending that streak than those before it.

After a slow start, Rudi Garcia has had a real impact at the Ligue 1 outfit, silencing the critics who labeled him too pragmatic as his time with Roma wore on. This Marseille team is far from it, and the manager has built an exciting side capable of unsettling even the strongest of defenses.

For all of PSG’s immense attacking talent, their trip to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid recently highlighted that they are far from infallible defensively, and when up against decent opposition they do struggle to keep a clean sheet. Marseille breached their backline twice to earn a point in the reverse fixture in October, while PSG also conceded at least once in league meetings to the likes of Bordeaux, Nantes, Monaco, and Lyon this season, all of whom occupy places in the top seven.

Factor in Marseille’s assets of their own in offensive positions, along with the inevitable distraction of PSG’s looming Champions League second leg against Real Madrid, and Marseille seems primed to put up a fight. Florian Thauvin — who endured an ill-fated spell in the Premier League with Newcastle — has unquestionably been the star, with superb tallies of 15 goals and 10 assists already in Ligue 1, while Dimitri Payet, Morgan Sanson, and Valere Germain comprise a very capable front four.

The industry best price on “both teams to score” is understandably modest at 1.66 (-152 American odds) as a result. Marseille has found the net in five of the last six meetings between these sides after all, so to find value it’s worth considering that both of these sides have been fast starters of late.

Indeed, both scored in the first half of the last meeting between the sides, and starting with that meeting back in October, PSG has netted before the break in 15 of their last 17 league outings, while Marseille has done so in 13 of their last 17. With odds available at 3.85 (+285) on both teams to score in the first half, that’s an angle I would be tempted to exploit.

The other would be the handicap lines, given the odds with all bookmakers are stacked comprehensively in the hosts’ favor. There is good reason for that, of course. The runaway Ligue 1 leaders haven’t dropped a single point at home, but such a huge price on a Marseille win always points to the fact that there may be value to be had on the winning margin.

Garcia’s side are no mugs, and given the likelihood that they will find a way past this PSG defense, this is unlikely to be a comfortable victory for PSG. Both sides come into the game close to full health, so Marseille will certainly be confident of causing problems. So, even if this game does end in a home win as expected, the margin of victory may well be narrow.

With that in mind, the “Marseille +1.5” handicap is a tempting price as high as 2.28 (+128), which would come in as a winner even if the away side lost by a single goal.

While Le Classique has lived up to its name by way of goal-scoring action between the sides in recent years — with 10 goals in the last two matchups, for instance — this one could yet be a classic by way of tension and drama, with the gulf in class between the two perhaps closer than it has been for some time.

Top Photo: Florian Thauvin

Credit: Msnico82, Wikimedia Commons