MARSEILLE (AFP) – Olympique Marseille (OM) coach Andre Villas-Boas said that despite the controversy surrounding the first meeting with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) this season, his team would approach the Champions Trophy between the clubs with “aggression” and “intensity”.
He also said there was no pressure on his team because PSG’s wealth had made French football “the most unbalanced in the world”.
But, he said, the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic could offer “an opportunity to change the face of football”.
Marseille’s 1-0 victory over PSG in Ligue 1 last September was marred by five red cards, Angel Di Maria spitting at Marseille centre back Alvaro and Neymar accusing the same opponent of racism.
The Champions Trophy usually pits the Ligue 1 champions against the French cup winners, but since PSG finished top of the league when the season was halted and won the cup, they face the league runners up Marseille in Lens early tomorrow (4am Brunei time).
The Marseille coach said the encounters between the clubs, dubbed Clasicos in France, were “always hot”.
“Fans demand we play these matches with aggression and authority. The match at the Parc des Princes was out of control at the end, but that was more because of provocation from the other side than from us,” he told a press conference. “So we will go with humility, but also aggression and intensity.”
Marseille have not won a trophy since 2012 but Villas-Boas said that was to do with Qatari financial backing for their rival.
“OM have won no titles since PSG changed the face of French football. It’s not OM’s fault, it’s the reality of the most unbalanced championship in the world,” he said. “The norm is that PSG win all the national competitions. So we don’t have this pressure to win.”
“When an opportunity comes up, you have to do the best you can.”
A meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday between club presidents and the French players union, on wage cuts in the face of COVID-19.
Villas-Boas said football had a chance to adjust its priorities.
“Clubs have lost their heads. It could be good that the pandemic is pushing everyone to question themselves and that everyone calms down,” he said.
“There are debts everywhere, losses of 300, 400, 500 million. Even at Real (Madrid) and Barca. We have to stop.”
“Of course, it’s going to affect the employees of the game, that is to say us. But maybe it’s a good opportunity to change the face of football.”