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Mbappe set to measure up to Marseille for final time with PSG

Mbappe set to measure up to Marseille for final time with PSG

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There is no love lost between the two biggest clubs in France

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Paris (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe is set to sample the fiercest rivalry in French football for the final time before his expected departure at the end of the season as Paris Saint-Germain make the trip to Marseille on Sunday.

There is no love lost between the two biggest clubs in France, even if Marseille have struggled to compete with PSG for honours since the Qatari takeover of the capital side over a decade ago.

The Parisians come into this game with a huge 12-point lead at the top of the table from nearest challengers Brest with just eight matches remaining, meaning Mbappe is surely certain to win a sixth title in seven seasons with the club.

Marseille, in contrast, are seventh, three points outside the European places despite a recent revival under new coach Jean-Louis Gasset, a former PSG assistant boss.

Mbappe has already told PSG that he intends to leave at the end of the current campaign when his contract expires, with Real Madrid his expected next destination.

That means he is unlikely to sample the heated atmosphere of the 67,000-capacity Velodrome again any time soon after this Sunday.

This will be his second visit there this week, after he turned out for France at the same venue in their 3-2 friendly win over Chile on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old's status as national team captain did not prevent him from being whistled by sections of the crowd in the Mediterranean city, who were unable to forget his connection to PSG for the evening.

"Honestly I would understand if I were jeered," he had said before the France game. "I am a PSG player. If I am whistled, that's life. I wouldn't take it personally."

"It shouldn't happen," complained France coach Didier Deschamps, himself a former Marseille captain. He admitted hearing the jeers for Mbappe was "disappointing".

Mbappe recaptured his best form for PSG just before the international break after a run of games in which he lost his status as an undisputed starter.

A hat-trick in a 6-2 win at Montpellier two weeks ago took him to 38 goals in 37 appearances for PSG this season.

Luis Enrique's side appear to be finding their best form at the right time, and are undefeated in 24 matches since early November.

This game begins a vital few weeks in which they will also host Rennes in the French Cup semi-finals and face Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Meanwhile Marseille lost their last two games after claiming five straight wins following Gasset's appointment.

They have a Europa League last-eight tie against Benfica on the horizon but are in the midst of an injury crisis, with full-back Jonathan Clauss among those sidelined after coming off playing for France.

Player to watch: Randal Kolo Muani

The France forward has yet to justify the 90 million-euro ($97m) transfer fee paid by PSG to sign him from Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of the season.

He has managed nine goals in 31 appearances for his new club but has not been a first-choice starter in recent months and has struggled to convince when named in coach Luis Enrique's XI.

That did not prevent him from being called up to the latest France squad, though, and he scored one goal and set up another as Les Bleus beat Chile in midweek in Marseille.

Like Mbappe, he will be keen to silence the Velodrome crowd on Sunday as he prepares to make his 100th appearance in France's top flight.

Key stats

3 - PSG have lost just three times in 30 meetings in all competitions with Marseille since the Qatari takeover of the capital club in 2011

188 - Mbappe's overall goals tally makes him the eighth-top scorer in French top-flight history. Top of the list is Delio Onnis, with 299

12 - PSG's lead in points at the top of the table with eight games left

Fixtures (times GMT)

Friday

Lille v Lens (2000)

Saturday

Metz v Monaco (1600), Lyon v Reims (2000)

Sunday

Lorient v Brest (1100), Clermont v Toulouse, Le Havre v Montpellier, Nice v Nantes (all 1300), Strasbourg v Rennes (1505), Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)