Ligue 1 preview

Ayew: Marseille bigger than PSG

February 21, 2013

Marseille winger Andre Ayew insists OM remain the biggest club in France despite the big spending of Sunday's opponent's Paris St Germain.

Andre Ayew
EmpicsAndre Ayew is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring for Marseille

The Ligue 1 Classique has an extra edge this season because of last year's takeover at the Parc des Princes by the Qatar Investment Authority, and their latest global recruit, David Beckham, could make his debut this weekend.

PSG lead the table ahead of Lyon but Marseille would close to within two points of their arch rivals with victory, and Ayew believes his club's history gives them the edge.

He said on www.om.net: "It makes sense that there is all this attention around Paris. This club is something great. It's good for Ligue 1 to have a club that attracts so many great players.

"This will encourage other clubs to increase their capacity to improve the quality of their team. There is much talk of Paris, but they are leading the championship, they win games and play in the Champions League.

"OM has a great history, it is a legendary club. With means, OM could bring so many great players like PSG. For me, OM is the biggest club in France."

The match could see the meeting of two high-profile English midfielders, with Beckham potentially coming up against Marseille's Joey Barton.

The combative former Manchester City and Newcastle player is on loan at OM for the rest of the season from QPR and has made quite an impression.

As well as earning plaudits for his committed performances, Barton has already picked up his first red card in French football and on Tuesday was involved in a verbal spat with team-mate Kassim Abdallah at an open training session.

Talking to OMtv, Barton played down the confrontation, saying: "In every team, there are disputes on matters technical and tactical, it can also be a misjudged tackle or private matters that players bring to the field and do not leave in the locker room.

"It is certain that where I am, there is always a little more noise and hype. I am aware of that, which is why I said, 'Stop, let's calm down. If there is a problem, let's settle it in private'.

"During my career, I've seen 30 or 40 fights on a training ground. Disputes between these two people have nothing to do with the team or the club. It is normal because our sport creates passions.

"We're all competitors and, match or training, we always want to win and sometimes we go too far. The important thing is to know how to turn the page and make peace."

PSG appeared to be on a smooth run to the title until they were surprisingly beaten by Sochaux last weekend, their first loss for two and a half months.

That has left the door ajar to Lyon and Marseille, but central defender Mamadou Sakho is keener than most to ensure their great rivals are not given any more encouragement.

The 23-year-old grew up in the capital as a passionate PSG fan looking forward to clashes with Marseille more than any other, and the painful memories of last season's 3-0 defeat at the Stade Velodrome still remain.

PSG have won two of three meetings since, drawing the other, but Sakho told beIN Sport: "Honestly, I was totally gutted.

"When I went home I didn't speak to anyone, I took my phone off the hook. This fixture means so much to me and losing 3-0 down there, it was tough.

"I didn't feel like eating. I was totally demoralised until the next day, but then slowly you turn the page. But last season's defeat hurt me very badly."

Should PSG slip up, Lyon could end the weekend level on points at the summit with victory over Lorient, while also on Sunday Bordeaux meet Brest.

Fourth-placed Nice kick off the weekend against struggling Reims tomorrow night and fifth-placed St Etienne travel to bottom side Nancy on Saturday.

There is a big match at the bottom of the table between Troyes and Bastia while Rennes host Sochaux, Lille travel to Ajaccio, Evian meet Montpellier and Valenciennes entertain Toulouse.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.