PSG Greatest XI vs Marseille Greatest XI: Who Wins?
Bernard Lama (1992-1997 and 1998-2000)
For his first spell, he was part of the team reaching five successive European Cup semi finals from 1992 to 1997. He was then ranked amongst the best keepers in the world thanks to his agility in the air and his reflexes on the line. He later returned for a less successful spell as his career wound down. 8/10
Gabriel Heinze (2001-2004)
The Argentinian set the standard very high during his three seasons at the club. Despite winning only a single French Cup, his aggressiveness and determination will stay forever in the fans’ minds. His later move to OM would not spoil this feeling. 7.5/10
The Brazilian centre-back signed from Benfica in 1991, was a key player in most of the Parisian successes in the early 90’s. The defensive rock could occasionally turn into a goalscorer: in spring 1994 his goal against Toulouse secured the second league title in the club’s short history. 6.5/10
Alain Roche (1992-1998)
Despite having played previously for Marseille, Roche spend the most successful part of his career in the capital, playing almost two hundred games for the club. He brought home seven trophies during his six years at PSG. 6.5/10
Antoine Kombouaré (1990-1995)
Kombouaré comes as an exception in this list. Indeed, he was not a regular starter for the club, but stays in every memory for his two goals scored in the 1992-1993 European campaign. The first came in the round of sixteen, a last minute header qualifying the club for the quarter finals where he repeated his performance – another late header sent Real Madrid home. The “golden helmet” nickname was born. 6/10
Paul Le Guen (1991-1998)
The “spud from Pencran” came from Nantes to Paris in 1991. As a holding midfielder, he took part in 344 games for the club, earning a few trophies and caps under the national jersey along the way. 7/10
The younger brother of Brazilian legend Socrates, came to Europe in 1993 as a double Libertadores Cup and Intercontinental Cup holder with São Paulo. If his first season in Paris was average, the four following his World Cup title were simply wonderful. He lit up the Parc des Princes many times as a playmaker. His last game at home with Paris turned into a celebration of the greatest number 10 to ever wear the blue and red shirt. His tears on this night remain poignant for all fans. 9/10
Another skilful Brazilian playmaker shone in Paris a few years later in the name of Ronaldinho. He meticulously picked PSG as a transitional club in order to adapt himself to European football, but still offered the fans a bit of what his golden feet could do. Unfortunately, the only trophy he won during his two years spell was a World Cup with the Brazilian team. 8.5/10
David Ginola (1992-1995)
The winger was a fans’ favourite in Paris with his long runs down the left flank and his magical first touch. Amazing in the European games against Real Madrid or Barcelona, he earned the nickname of “El Magnifico”. Sadly, former national coach Gérard Houllier put the blame of the failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup on his shoulders and most of the country followed, leading to his English exile. 7.5/10
Pedro Pauleta (2003-2008)
The Portuguese striker scored 109 goals for the club in 211 games. A tally nobody could ever match. His brilliance on the front line saved the team in many occasions. In an inconsistent period for the club, he still managed to collect two cup trophies before retiring as a hero. 9.5/10
Georges Weah (1992-1995)
Signed from Monaco in 1992, the Liberian striker would lead the Parisian attack for three years, relentlessly scoring crucial goals. His panache was shown to the world during the great Champions League run of 1994-1995. Everyone remembers his goal scored in the former Munich Olympiastadion against Bayern. 8.5/10
Total for Paris SG: 84.5/110
Honourable mentions: Patrick Colleter, Francis Llacer, Sylvain Armand, Juan-Pablo Sorín, Daniel Bravo, and Jérémy Ménez.
Olympique de Marseille.
Fabien Barthez (1992-1995 and 2004-2006)
The charismatic goalkeeper came to Marseille aged only 21. Despite his young age, he quickly imposed himself as one of the best of his generation, winning the Champions League in 1993 during his first spell at the club. His second period in Marseille would be a succession of highs and lows, highlighted in the UEFA Cup run of 2004 where he lead his team to the final before conceding a penalty and being sent off. 8.5/10
Éric Di Meco (1989-1994)
The hard as nails left-back was the only player coming from the Marseille youth team in the late 1980s. This fact alone made him a fans’ favourite, which was then reinforced by his commitment on the pitch, most noticeable against their Parisian rivals. 7/10
Basile Boli (1990-1994)
The Ivory Coast-born defender will always be remembered for his May 1993 combo: he first scored the goal that won OM the first and only Champions League for a French club, and then three days later ended a beautiful passing move with a thumping twenty yard header against the arch enemy in Marseille. 9/10
Laurent Blanc (1997-1999)
The “President” came to Marseille following a year in Barcelona. Scoring an amazing eleven goals in his first season there, he came back for a second spell as world champion and helped his team reach the 1999 UEFA Cup final, where OM lost to Parma. 8/10
Manuel Amoros (1989-1993 and 1995-1996)
The little wing-back was a pillar of Monaco and the French squad in the 1980’s. But his career took another dimension when he joined Marseille in 1989. There he would enjoy four seasons full of silverware, reaching two Champions League finals. 6.5/10
Didier Deschamps (1989-1990 and 1991-1994)
The 1998 World Cup winning captain was also the winning captain of the 1993 Champions League. The holding midfielder was a crucial element of the Marseille side that terrified the whole of Europe in the early 1990s. 8.5/10
Abedi Pele (1987-1988 and 1990-1993)
The Ghanaian midfielder was voted three times in a row African Footballer of the Year while playing for Marseille. Remembered for his passing skills, he provided the assist for the only goal in the 1993 Champions League final. His legend still lives on at the Vélodrome as two of his sons are currently playing for the team. 7.5/10
Chris Waddle (1989-1992)
Transferred from Tottenham for what was then a huge sum of €7M (then the third most expensive transfer behind Maradona and Gullit), he quickly became an idol for his antics on and off the pitch. He was one of the first left-footed players to settle definitely on the right wing, disorientating a few left-backs with his dribbling skills. He also might have been the only Marseille player to be warmly applauded during a game at the Parc des Princes in 1991. 8/10
One season is all it took to the Ivory Coast striker to make all Marseille fans fall in love. A season during which he netted thirty-two times and led the team to a UEFA Cup final, lost to Valencia. Fans would even launch a “Drogbathon” in 2008 in order to gather enough cash to buy him back from Chelsea. 8/10
Jean-Pierre Papin (1986-1992)
“JPP” played 244 games for Marseille, out of which he scored 185 goals. Five times in a row the top scorer of the French league, he was famous for his numerous volley goals and took home the 1991 European Player of the Year award despite losing the Champions League final to Red Star Belgrade. 9/10
Fabrizio Ravanelli (1997-1999)
In 1998, the Italian goalscorer joined Marseille from Middlesborough following a brilliant spell in England. “Penna Bianca”, as he was nicknamed, scored thirty goals in two seasons but in the fans’ heart he will eternally be remembered for the 1997 game in Paris where he tripped himself in the box and fooled the referee to obtain a penalty. Utterly inimitable. 6/10
Total for Olympique de Marseille: 86/110
Honourable mentions: Gabriel Heinze, Jocelyn Angloma, Carlos Moser, Lorik Cana, Peter Luccin and Franck Ribéry.
Overall, and as the past results show (29 wins for Paris, 30 for Marseille and 20 draws), it is a very tight contest between these two teams. The difference comes from the trophy cabinet. When Marseille has nine league titles, Paris has only two. When the southern club has thirteen national or league cups, Paris has only eleven to display in its museum. Most noticeable of all, when Marseille can proudly show a Champions League trophy to its fans, Paris just managed to offer a defunct Cup Winners Cup to theirs.
Once more, it’s all about the silverware… Or is it?
Footnote: Two players appearing in my poll have been taken off the teams for being from a time when the rivalry did not exist (Josip Skoblar for Marseille and Luis Fernández for Paris) while two others have been discarded because of their relative inexperience in regard of this duel (Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva).