PSG will be looking to kickstart their 2021/22 Ligue 1 campaign on a winning note when they take on newly-promoted club Troyes on Saturday night.

After a near three-month break, the Ligue 1 returns to action this weekend as the 2021/22 season kicks off in France. And, title hopefuls Paris Saint-Germain will be in action at Stade de l’Aube where they face off against newly-promoted club Troyes.

After missing out on the Ligue 1 title last time out to Lille, PSG will be itching to bounce back strongly, even more so following the Trophee des Champions defeat to Les Dogues in the curtain-raiser of the French football season last week. Manager Mauricio Pochettino will certainly be under pressure to avoid any slip-ups, although the mood will be quite buoyant at the club due to the potential arrival of Lionel Messi.

Nonetheless, Les Parisiens will need to avoid any sense of complacency against the minnows in order to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the first day of the season. As for Troyes, they are back in the big leagues for the first time since their relegation in 2018, after winning the Ligue 2 in 2020/21.

Under manager Laurent Batlles, Troyes enjoyed a solid 2020/21 campaign and will be hoping to put up a strong showing on their return to the top-flight. A positive start could go a long way in helping them avoid getting dragged into the relegation battle, but that will be easier said than done against the mighty PSG side.

Ahead of this David vs Goliath encounter that will set us off on our way in the 2021/22 Ligue 1 season, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Troyes

Heading into the game, Troyes do not have any major injury concerns, with manager Laurent Batlles having almost the entire squad fit and available, of which he has picked 21 for the contest. The home team lined up in a 3-5-2 for a number of games in the last season and should stick with the same setup on Saturday.

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Gauthier Gallon will be the man in goal for Troyes, who will be shielded by the three-man defensive unit of club captain Jimmy Giraudon and Oualid El Hajjam, along with holding midfielder Florian Tardieu, who could get the nod ahead of teenagers Rudy Kohon and Tanguy Zoukrou.

Issa Kabore, on loan from Manchester City and Youssouf Kone, on loan from Olympique Lyon, could slot in on the flanks as the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. More often than not, though, the duo is likely to stay deep and form what would essentially be a five-man defence, but will also need to be a source of width when Troyes do attack.

Rominigue Kouame and Karim Azamoum will be the two central midfielders holding down the fort in the centre of the pitch while Dylan Chambost will shoulder the attacking responsibilities from the middle.

Up top, last season’s top goalscorer Yoann Touzghar, who scored 16 goals, should be a shoo-in to lead the line. The 34-year-old veteran striker is likely to be partnered by the versatile Renaud Ripart, who scored 11 goals for Nimes in Ligue 1 last season.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Gallon; El Hajjam, Tardieu, Giraudon; Kabore, Chambost, Kouame, Azamoum, Kone; Touzghar, Ripart

PSG

PSG will have some key members unavailable as new signing and superstar defender Sergio Ramos is ruled out with a calf strain, while fellow defenders Juan Bernat and Colin Dagba are also unavailable, along with midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who is recovering from coronavirus.

In addition, PSG had a host of players return from holiday only this week after their involvement in the summer’s international tournaments and might not be rushed back into action. That would mean the likes of Neymar, Pablo Sarabia, Marquinhos, Leandro Paredes, new signing Gianluigi Donnarumma may not be involved or at best get some minutes from the bench.

Keylor Navas ought to get the nod in goal against Troyes where he will be protected by the centre-back pairing of Thilo Kehrer and Presnel Kimpembe. Flanking the duo will be new signing Achraf Hakimi, who made his debut for PSG in the Trophee des Champions clash against Lille. The Moroccan slots in on the right while Laywin Kurzawa features at left-back.

Danilo Pereira will be tasked with shielding the defence from the holding midfield position with support coming from the industrious Ander Herrera. Summer arrival Georginio Wijnaldum ought to slot in as the third central midfielder and provide the forward thrust and attacking intent from the centre.

The frontline is likely to be devoid of the likes of Angel Di Maria, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe but will still boast a great threat with Julian Draxler on the right and youth sensation Arnaud Kalimuendo on the left, flanking the dangerous Mauro Icardi.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Herrera, Pereira, Wijnaldum; Draxler, Icardi, Kalimuendo

Key Stats

  • PSG have won each of their last eight games against Troyes across all competitions. They have kept a clean sheet in six of the last seven contests versus the minnows.
  • Troyes have won only one of their last nine opening games in Ligue 1 (D3 L5).
  • PSG have lost three of their last seven matches against a newly-promoted team in Ligue 1 (W4), as many as they did in the previous 61.
  • Troyes have lost their last three games in Ligue 1 against Paris Saint-Germain, conceding twelve goals.
  • PSG have lost just one of their last nine opening games of a Ligue 1 season, but that happened in the last campaign against RC Lens.

Player to Watch

Mauro Icardi

Icardi needs to step up (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)

Icardi needs to step up (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Argentine forward hasn’t had the easiest of times during his stay in Paris but has done fairly well given the chance. However, with another summer window rolling in, Icardi’s future has become a topic of debate yet again. In fact, if PSG do end up signing Lionel Messi as is widely being speculated, his compatriot could end up facing the axe.

A return to Italy has spoken about, but Icardi will need to show that he is worth taking a punt on and a strong performance in the season opener could help him acquire more suitors in case PSG decide to move him on.

Prediction

Troyes 0-2 PSG

Troyes are back in the top-flight and will be cherishing the moment on Saturday night. However, on the field, they are likely to come up short even against a weakened PSG side who are still waiting on some of their best players to get in tune for the new season. The minnows don’t have the strongest of squads and with there being a host of new faces, they still need time to gel. Anything other than a win for PSG would be a shock.

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