Following their midweek success, Paris Saint-Germain turn their attention towards the Ligue 1 as they host Nantes on Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain were lucky in many ways to avoid an onslaught from FC Barcelona in the Champions League. But having progressed to the quarter-finals of the coveted competition, they are set to shift their attention back to Ligue 1, where they play hosts to Nantes on Sunday.

The reigning French champions are still trailing league leaders LOSC Lille by two points, but are among the most in-form teams in the division, despite the 2-0 defeat to AS Monaco a few weeks ago. Mauricio Pochettino will also be delighted to face Nantes of all teams following a strenuous evening against Barcelona in midweek.

The Western French outfit is currently one of the worst-performing teams in the league, dawdling at the bottom end of the league with just 24 points on the board. The Canaries are still in the relegation scrap, though a win could potentially help them steer clear of the relegation zone.

Coach Antoine Kombouare, however, will realise that overcoming PSG will be a steep task and will thus primarily hope to salvage just a point at Parc des Princes this weekend. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at the two sides ahead of this crucial match-up in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Tactics & Team News

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG are currently missing three crucial players heading into this game including Neymar and Juan Bernat while Moise Kean has contracted COVID-19. Mauricio Pochettino, however, has been blessed by the return of Angel Di Maria in recent days, with the Argentine more than likely to slot back into the attacking setup, especially having recently a new contract extension at the club.

PSG’s passive approach against Barcelona in midweek did not help at all, so we can expect them to employ a more natural game. As such, the creative trifecta of Rafinha, Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe will be hoping to provide the supply for Mauro Icardi in the number nine role, as the hosts look to rekindle their winning momentum.

Alternatively, Mbappe could spearhead the frontline, with Pablo Sarabia replacing Icardi and shifting into a wide attacking role, giving the French champions more dynamism in the final third.

In midfield, Marco Verratti is most likely to receive a breather given the injury problems he has suffered in recent seasons. It should pave the way for Danilo Pereira and Idrissa Gueye to form the double-pivot that should be integral to PSG’s control over the game. Danilo should provide the grit to Gueye’s grit in the middle of the park, although Ander Herrera and Leandro Paredes are viable alternatives for Pochettino this weekend.

Meanwhile, in the defensive unit, the onus will be on Marquinhos to once again help PSG keep the opposition at bay. His leadership and ability to read the game could indeed be vital alongside Presnel Kimpembe, though they might be changes elsewhere with the two full-backs in Alessandro Florenzi and Layvin Kurzawa making way for Colin Dagba and Mitchell Bakker.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Danilo, Gueye; Di Maria, Rafinha, Mbappe; Icardi

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Nantes

Just one month into his new job, Antoine Kombouare has managed to add a bit more solidity in Nantes’ game over the past few matches. Although the Frenchman prefers a fluid 4-3-3 setup, he might continue with the 4-4-1-1 that should provide the much-needed protection for the goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Indeed, the banks of four, the first of which should consist of Dennis Appiah, Jean-Charles Castelletto, Andrei Girotto and Charles Traore, should act narrowly, providing the PSG players very little space in between the lines. It could be vital to the game plan as the visitors look to avoid giving the opposition any room to work with.

The midfielders, in that regard, should be equally important, although it will be interesting to see whether Kombouare makes any alteration to the side that lost to Reims. It appears Abdoulaye Toure and Pedro Chirivella are likely starters in the double pivot, with wide midfielders in Ludovic Blas and Moses Simon offering additional support in the second line of press.

Simon, though, does have that energy and dynamism that could provide the spark in the Nantes frontline. As a result, he could be employed as a runner, allowing the attacking midfielder in Imran Louza to find either him or the central striker in Randal Kolo Muani.

Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Lafont; Appiah, Girotto, Castelletto, Traore; Blas, Toure, Chirivella, Simon; Louza; Muani

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Key Stats

  • Nantes have picked up 24 points after 28 games played in Ligue 1 in 2020/21 – their lowest tally at this stage of the competition, counting three points for a win. The only team with 24 points after 28 games in the 21st century were relegated (Auxerre in 2011/12).
  • Beaten by AS Monaco in February in Parc des Princes, PSG could lose two consecutive home Ligue 1 games for the first time since November 2012.
  • PSG have won 17 of their last 18 Ligue 1 meetings with Nantes, with the only exception being a loss away from home in April 2019.
  • PSG have picked up 60 points after 28 games played in Ligue 1 in 2020/21. Only Nice in 2016/17 found themselves in 3rd place with at least as many points at this stage of a top-flight season.
  • PSG have won each of their last 12 home games against Nantes in Ligue 1, only experiencing a longer winning run at home against Bastia in their top-flight history. The last time Les Canaris avoided defeat at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1 was in November 2002.

Player to Watch

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe stands during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Toulouse (TFC) at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on August 25, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Can Mbappe continue his good form this weekend? (Photo by Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images)

The light is shining bright on Kylian Mbappe, who was once again involved in the score sheet in PSG’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona. His contributions were integral in helping the Ligue 1 giants knock the Catalans out of the competition, with the player notably bagging a hat-trick in the first leg.

Sunday could be a different ball-game for Mbappe, though, knowing Nantes is set to employ a low black and make life difficult for the PSG attackers. Unlike Barcelona, therefore, the Frenchman might not receive too many opportunities to run at defences or utilise his pace on the counter.

While the PSG attacker may not boast the power of someone like Erling Haaland, he does have the movement as well as the skill on the ball to make the opposition work. And with Neymar once again absent, Mbappe’s performance will certainly go a long way in dictating PSG’s fate in this contest.

Prediction

Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Nantes

PSG have looked far from impressive in the Ligue 1 this campaign, often looking far too one-dimensional in their attacking approach while also lacking fluidity in their build-up. However, in Nantes, they face an opponent, who are still yet to find their mojo and given the massive disparity in quality between the two sides, it remains unlikely that we might witness any upset this weekend, especially at Parc des Princes.

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