PSG will be looking to pick up their second win of the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season when they face off against OGC Nice at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain have endured a rough start to the defence of their Ligue 1 title. After back-to-back defeats against Lens and Olympique Marseille, the champions did bounce back with a 1-0 win against Metz earlier this week. And they will be hoping to build upon that victory when they take on OGC Nice away from home on matchday four.
Thomas Tuchel’s men find themselves in the 15th position in the table currently, having accumulated just three points from three games till now. In comparison, their weekend opponents, Nice, are currently seventh in the table with six points from three games.
Les Aiglons started the season with consecutive victories over Lens and Strasbourg. However, they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Montpellier in their most recent fixture last weekend. With the champions not at their best yet, Patrick Vieira will be hoping to lead his team to a victory on Sunday.
PSG had trounced Nice 4-1 in this exact fixture last season, led by an Angel Di Maria brace along with goals from Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi. And ahead of their latest meeting at the Allianz Riviera, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Nice will be without the services of three players – Hicham Boudaoui (knee), Bambu (knee) and Danilo (thigh) against the Ligue 1 champions. Patrick Vieira has confirmed that there have been some positive cases of coronavirus within the squad. Kasper Dolberg, Alexis Claude-Maurice and Stanley Nsoki are the three players who have reportedly been quarantined.
Despite the disappointing outcome against Montpellier last time out, the manager is unlikely to make a whole lot o changes to the starting XI. Walter Benitez will be the man in goal for the Eagles. In front of him, the team will set up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Youcef Atal and Hassane Kamara ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides respectively. They will flank the centre-back duo of Andy Pelmard and Dante, who scored the only goal for Nice last weekend.
Morgan Schneiderlin will essay the role of the midfield anchorman for the hosts. He will have support from 24-year-old Khephren Thuram while Pierre Lees-Melou is expected to occupy the remaining slot in the centre of the park.
Rony Lopes should continue on the right flank for Nice, while Myziane Maolida ought to be retained on the opposite wing. With Dolberg missing, Amine Gouiri is expected to slot in as the centre-forward on Sunday noon.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Benitez; Atal, Pelmard, Dante, Kamara; Lees-Melou, Schneiderlin, Thuram; Lopes, Gouiri, Maolida
The good news for Les Parisiens is that Kylian Mbappe has been cleared to play after having missed the last few matches as he was in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus. However, Juan Bernat suffered a serious injury in the last game and is set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines, while Thilo Kehrer is out injured as well.
Thomas Tuchel will also be unable to call upon Neymar, Laywin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes and Abdou Diallo, all of whom are suspended. Like their opponents PSG, too, are expected to set up in a 4-3-3 formation with former Real Madrid star Keylor Navas manning the goal.
With Kehrer out, new signing Alessandro Florenzi should get the nod at right-back, while youngster Mitchel Bakker is set to fill in at left-back in the absence of Bernat and Kurzawa. Marquinhos ought to start at the heart of the PSG defence on Sunday. The Brazilian should be partnered by Presnel Kimpembe, who featured as a substitute last time out.
Marco Verratti is back in the squad after recovering from his injury issue. However, it is unlikely that the manager will thrust him into action right away. That would mean the midfield trifecta of Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye and Julian Draxler, who scored the only goal against Metz last time, should continue against Nice.
No changes are expected in the frontline in spite of Mbappe’s return. Angel Di Maria and Pablo Sarabia ought to be the wide players for the champions with Mauro Icardi leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Herrera, Gueye, Draxler; Sarabia, Icardi, Di Maria
- PSG have lost two of their last three games in Ligue 1 (W1), as many as in their previous 25 fixtures (W21 D2).
- Nice have won only one of their last 14 games against PSG in the league (D2 L11). They have lost six of their last seven home games against Les Parisiens as many as they did in the previous 23 (W9 D8).
- After the 1-0 defeat to Lens in the first game, PSG are looking to avoid losing their first two away fixtures in the same season in Ligue 1 since 2004/05.
- Nice have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 15 league matches against Paris Saint-Germain. Their last clean sheet against the capital club came in February 2012.
- PSG star Angel Di Maria has failed to provide a goal involvement in his last three league appearances for PSG. He last endured a longer such run between November 2018 and January 2019 (6 games).
Player to Watch
The 27-year-old enjoyed a productive 2019/20 campaign with PSG, bagging 20 goals and 4 assists in 34 matches across all competitions. This prompted the club to convert his loan transfer from Inter Milan into a permanent deal.
However, in his last ten league outings, Icardi has found the back of the net just thrice and endured an ineffective outing against Metz earlier this week. With Edinson Cavani not at the club anymore, he will have to take on the mantle of being the senior striker and perform more consistently.
Given that Neymar is unavailable for Sunday’s game and Mbappe is likely to be eased back into action, Icardi will need to step up to the plate and deliver the goods if PSG are to get things back on track.
OGC Nice 1-2 PSG
Nice have the capability to cause problems to the PSG defence, but the hosts themselves remain vulnerable at the back, as was seen in their defeat to Montpellier last weekend.
Goals have been a problem for PSG since the start of the new season largely due to the unavailability of key players. However, with Angel Di Maria hitting his strides, Mauro Icardi back in action and Kylian Mbappe also set to return, things should considerably improve for them moving forward.
And, hence, The Hard Tackle is predicting the champions to clinch a narrow victory this weekend and move up the table after a stuttering start to the campaign.