PSG Marseille doubleheader good before Real Madrid – Alphonse Areola
Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola believes the upcoming Ligue 1 and Coupe de France doubleheader with bitter rivals Marseille is perfect preparation for the second leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie with Real Madrid in less than a fortnight.
PSG trail Madrid 3-1 after the opening leg at the Santiago Bernabeu and host Marseille at the Parc des Princes on Sunday before they do it again in the Coupe de France on Wednesday.
Areola told the club’s website that facing Marseille twice in quick succession will be favourable.
“Absolutely,” said the youth academy graduate. “It is the opportunity for us to show how good our supporters are and how strong we are together.
“This chemistry between the fans and the players is very important. We need to show that we are together and that we want to beat every team that comes to Parc des Princes.”
Areola, 24, acknowledged that there is extra motivation for him to face Marseille in Le Classique as a Parisien.
“When we know Le Classique is coming, we really start looking forward to playing,” Areola said. “We want to play, and to win, because we are playing OM.
“When you are Parisien, you know what this rivalry represents. We want to be able to say the next day, ‘We won!'”
Areola also admitted that Marseille’s third-place status ahead of the match is a good thing for PSG, who are in need of a challenging clash.
“Yes, of course, it is better when there so much at stake in the standings as well,” he said. “It adds a little more spice.
“We know it will be a top match that will be decided on the little details. We got a 2-2 draw away and now we want to show that we are the better side. Nobody wins when they visit the Parc.”
Javier Pastore told PSG TV that the match is different to every other game in Ligue 1.
“It is Le Classique, a special match different to the others,” he said. “We play every match to win, but this one is really special.
“The atmosphere is different. In the days leading up to the match, there are more and more fans at Camp des Loges, and in the streets around Parc des Princes … We will do everything to try to win this match.
“The atmosphere will be fantastic at the Parc. We cannot wait for the game.”
However, the atmosphere will be exclusively provided by PSG’s supporters after Marseille fans were banned from making the trip to Paris.
Marseille supporters were debating which of the two matches to attend to support their team, but French authorities made that decision for them by banning travel for the Ligue 1 game.
PSG’s ultras paid the players a visit at Camp des Loges on Thursday ahead of the Marseille doubleheader and Paris Ultras Collective (CUP) president Romain Mabille told PSG’s website that the team needs support more than ever after coach Unai Emery was booed by sections of the crowd following the loss in Madrid.
“It is an important moment in the season,” Mabille said. “This is a great sign of respect from the club towards us.
“It good that we get the chance to talk with the players, because, as we say, ‘Together we are invincible.'”
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.