Marseille have eyes on Champions League return

French club travel to face rivals Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 match


AFP April 15, 2022

PARIS:

Marseille travels to face bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain this weekend in buoyant mood as they target Champions League qualification and a European trophy to finish the season.

PSG these days dominate French football and are closing in on an eighth Ligue 1 title in 10 seasons, but Marseille can still claim to be the country's best-supported team and there is something else they can still brag about to their rivals.

With the Parisians again falling short in their pursuit of Champions League glory this season, the southern giants remain the only French club to have lifted the European Cup, back in 1993.

Too inconsistent to seriously challenge PSG in recent years, Marseille has emerged as the best of the rest in Ligue 1 this season under Jorge Sampaoli and they head to the Parc des Princes sitting in second place.

With the top three qualifying for Europe's elite club competition, OM have a healthy seven-point cushion over Strasbourg in fourth as they target a return to the Champions League.

That is of particular importance given the fragile finances of the club owned by American tycoon Frank McCourt, but they also have silverware in their sights.

Thursday's 1-0 win over PAOK in Greece took them through to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League 3-1 on aggregate, with Dimitri Payet scoring the only goal on the night.

The new third-tier European competition may have been dismissed by many at the start of the campaign, but the opportunity of a second European trophy is not to be sniffed at for Marseille.

They will play fellow former European Cup winners Feyenoord in the last four, with the first leg to come later this month.

The winner of that will face either Leicester City or Roma in the final in Tirana in late May.

Marseille have now won eight straight games in all competitions with Payet in particular in inspired form.

"This run really makes the end of the season exciting for us," said forward Cedric Bakambu after beating PAOK.

"We have the PSG game in our minds, but we shouldn't play down this result. We should savour it and then get back to work. Everything is possible in football."

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