Paris Saint-Germain will aim to retain their twelve-point advantage at the top of the Ligue 1 table when they take on OGC Nice on Wednesday.

Following the prestigious Ballon d’Or award ceremony on Monday, the Parisians will shift their attention back to football as Paris Saint-Germain lock horns with OGC Nice on Wednesday.

The hosts are heading into this game with a whopping 12-point lead at the top of the table, making them the undisputed favourites to regain the Ligue 1 title. But this midweek, they will primarily be looking for retribution as they take on a Nice team that is led by none other than Christophe Galtier.

The French tactician was the mastermind behind LOSC Lille’s incredible 2020/21 campaign that saw them deny PSG the league title. Galtier has attained a similar level of success at Nice this season but has lagged behind in the title race due to PSG’s phenomenal start to the domestic campaign.

Indeed, Les Parisiens have dropped only five points so far this season. Their last defeat actually came against the second-placed Rennes in early October, although Mauricio Pochettino’s men did recently lose to Manchester City in the Champions League, thereby surrendering the top spot in Group A.

Meanwhile, Nice are currently third in the league table, with 26 points on the board. They will have the opportunity to potentially overtake Rennes for the second spot should the visitors manage all three points against the mighty PSG. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in the Ligue 1 this midweek.

Team News & Tactics

Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar endured a brutal injury in the last game against Saint-Etienne. He is set for a long spell on the sidelines, thus joining the likes of Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Georginio Wijnaldum and Marco Verratti in PSG’s list of absentees.

Sergio Ramos, though, did start for PSG last time out and remains a favourite to continue his central defensive partnership alongside Marquinhos. Mauricio Pochettino might make one little alteration in defence, with Nuno Mendes replacing Juan Bernat at left-back.

Mendes and the right-back Achraf Hakimi are set to provide the width going forward for PSG. Their presence out wide will allow the wide attackers in Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe to shift into central roles. It should ultimately help PSG form a free-flowing front three consisting of Lionel Messi, Di Maria and Mbappe.

However, it will be imperative for PSG to retain their dominance in central midfield if they are to get the better of Nice. And with the likes of Wijnaldum and Verratti not being fully match fit, the onus will be on Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera to form the midfield trifecta, with Leandro Paredes holding the fort in the number six slot.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Diallo, Bernat; Gueye, Pereira, Paredes; Di Maria, Messi, Mbappe

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OGC Nice

Nice head coach Christophe Galtier has no reason to tinker with the 4-4-2 setup that has worked out so well for him so far. It was successful during his time with Lille as well, as the Frenchman looks to use his hard-working front two of Andy Delort and Amine Gouiri to cause trouble for the PSG centre-backs.

Delort is the undisputed target man for Nice, while Gouiri will be given more positional freedom. He may even drift out wide to provide crosses into the box. The same can be said for the usual wide attackers in Calvin Stengs and Justin Kluivert.

As for the midfield department, Khephren Thuram and Mario Lemina should form the double-pivot. They will play a vital role in screening the backline and breaking up PSG’s play in the middle of the park.

The two may also receive additional support from one of the two marauding full-backs in Jordan Lotomba and Melvin Bard. Largely, though, they will be expected to retain their position alongside the central defensive duo of Dante and Jean-Clair Todibo. The ideal balance between youth and experience between the two central defenders could go a long way in helping Nice keep things quiet at the back.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Benitez; Lotomba, Todibo, Dante, Bard; Stengs, Lemina, Thuram, Kluivert; Delort, Gouiri

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Key Stats

  • PSG have lost only one of their last 16 Ligue 1 games against Nice, which came in late April 2017.
  • PSG have not lost any of their last 10 Ligue 1 home games against Nice. Their last such defeat came on 7 November 2019.
  • Nice have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 17 Ligue 1 games against PSG, last keeping a clean sheet against them in the top-flight on 12 February 2012.
  • PSG have won 13 of their first 15 games in Ligue 1 in 2021/22, a total that has only been surpassed once by a team at this stage of the competition, PSG themselves in 2018/19 (14).
  • Nice have lost two of their last three Ligue 1 games, as many as in their previous 13.

Player to Watch

Lionel Messi

epa05097966 Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after winning the FIFA Men's soccer player of the year 2015 prize during the FIFA Ballon d'Or awarding ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, 11 January 2016. EPA/VALERIANO DI DOMENICO

Another feather in his cap. EPA/VALERIANO DI DOMENICO

The spotlight will be on Lionel Messi this week after the Argentine bagged his seventh Ballon d’Or, though rather controversially, as he narrowly beat Robert Lewandowski. His win has sparked a major debate in the footballing universe, but the PSG superstar will look to focus on his football.

After a slow start to the campaign, the former Barcelona icon has performed well in recent matches. He scored his maiden Ligue 1 goal in the win over Nantes, while his three assists helped PSG secure a 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne on the weekend. And with Neymar out injured, the onus will be on Messi once again, as he looks to spearhead the PSG frontline this midweek.

Prediction

Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 OGC Nice

We are expecting a hard-fought encounter in Paris this midweek as Christophe Galtier looks to replicate his success against PSG, this time with the Nice squad that has done considerably well this season. Judging by his team’s performances so far, it won’t be surprising to see the visitors remaining resilient at the back and offer very little space for the PSG forward, thus leading to a close contest.

However, PSG remain the undisputed favourites to secure a narrow win, especially with Lionel Messi starting to settle into the Ligue 1. We are thus predicting a 2-1 victory for the hosts this midweek.

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