Paris Saint-Germain will be aiming to maintain their bright record in Ligue 1 when they take on OGC Nice on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain are gearing up for an important week ahead as they take on OGC Nice on Saturday, which will be followed by a daunting second leg fixture against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Given the essentially unassailable 15-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table, the upcoming game against Nice might seem insignificant. But having drawn goalless in the reverse fixture, followed by an early elimination from Coupe de France at the hands of the same opponent, Mauricio Pochettino and his troops will be desperate for retribution.
On the flip side, Nice are aiming for a second-place finish that would seal direct qualification to the Champions League next season. They are currently third in the league table, one point behind Marseille. A positive result against PSG could go a long way in improving their chances of overtaking OM, especially with Les Phoceens dropping points in back to back matches.
Nice started their month with a comprehensive win over Versailles in the Coupe de France semi-final. However, given their topsy-turvy form in February, Les Aiglons are heading into this game merely as underdogs, despite their positive record against PSG throughout the season. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sets of teams as they lock horns at Allianz Riviera this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
— OGC Nice (@ogcnice) March 4, 2022
OGC Nice are missing a couple of key players due to injury in Youcef Atal and Jordan Amavi. But on a positive note, Dante and Justin Kluivert are set to return from their respective suspensions.
Dante’s experience could be invaluable to the Nice defence that hopes to keep the mighty PSG attack in check. It could also give coach Christophe Galtier the freedom to shift Pablo Rosario back to his number six role in midfield. It should, in turn, see Khephren Thuram settling for a place on the bench.
There might be a few more changes from the side that faced Versailles in Coupe de France. Walter Benitez should return in goal, at the expense of Marcin Bulka. One other rotation could see the returning Kluivert replace Calvin Stengs on the flanks as Galtier looks to continue with his trademark 4-4-2, with two banks of four covering Benitez in between the sticks.
Galtier always has the option to bring back Kasper Dolberg in the frontline. But the variety offered by Amine Gouiri and the main target man Andy Delort is quite significant when it comes to breaching lines of the PSG defence, especially given how it has struggled against versatile attacks in Ligue 1 this season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Benitez; Lotomba, Todibo, Dante, Bard; Boudaoui, Lemina, Rosario, Kluivert; Delort, Gouiri
Mauricio Pochettino has some key decisions to make, in terms of team selection, as the Argentine keeps one eye on the important UEFA Champions League encounter against Real Madrid in midweek.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 4, 2022
Marco Verratti appears to be back in contention, though, despite having his suspension extended for one more game. That suspension can only take place after March 8, meaning the Italian is available for the tie, which could be significant for a PSG side reeling from the potential loss of Ander Herrera and Leandro Paredes.
Pochettino is likely to opt for Idrissa Gueye and Danilo Pereira in midfield, with Verratti offering the creative outlet in the middle of the park. Apart from Verratti, PSG are also set to be boosted by the return of Achraf Hakimi, though Saturday’s game could come a bit too soon for the Moroccan.
But on a rather disappointing note, Kylian Mbappe is missing due to suspension. It could be a blessing in disguise, though, knowing the Frenchman is set to return fresh in the midweek tie with Real Madrid. Angel Di Maria is likely to replace Mbappe, with Neymar likely to spearhead the PSG frontline alongside Lionel Messi.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Kehrer, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Verratti, Pereira, Gueye; Messi, Neymar, Di Maria
- OGC Nice have managed to record just one win in their last 17 Ligue 1 outings against Paris Saint-Germain. Their only victory came way back on 30 April 2017.
- Nice have lost 41% of their league games at home against PSG, which is their worst percentage against a current top-flight team. They have lost seven of their last eight home encounters against the same opposition, winning just one.
- Nice have only won only one of their last four Ligue 1 matches after winning their previous five.
- Paris Saint-Germain have lost only one of their last 17 Ligue 1 games, with their only defeat coming against Nantes last month.
- Nice have won three of their last four Ligue 1 games at home, after going winless in the previous four.
Player to Watch
Lionel Messi has been in top form since the turn of the year, racking up no less than six assists in the league. He has been a consistent creative outlet for his team, exhibiting his usual brilliance in the final third while linking up extraordinary well alongside the likes of Marco Verratti and Kylian Mbappe.
However, with Mbappe set to miss this game, the onus will be on Messi to provide that spark in the PSG frontline. While the Argentine was excellent against Saint-Etienne and LOSC Lille, things could get significantly tougher up against Nice’s 4-4-2 formation that is likely to offer minimal space and time in the final third.
OGC Nice 0-1 Paris Saint-Germain
It will be a surprise to see this game yielding too many goals, given the fact that OGC Nice are expected to solidify their defences and provide very little freedom for the PSG attackers inside their own half. And with Kylian Mbappe ruled out, there is a substantial chance for Christophe Galtier’s men to keep a clean sheet and secure another point against the Parisian juggernaut.
However, with Lionel Messi slowly returning to his old form and Neymar, Marco Verratti back in contention, PSG remain the firm favourites to seal three points. It won’t be surprising to see Les Parisiens net an odd winner through set-pieces or corner kicks.