Paris Saint-Germain will be keen to strengthen their hold at the top of the Ligue 1 standings when they travel to Nantes on Saturday night.

Paris Saint-Germain have looked nigh-on unstoppable this season, with a home draw against AS Monaco the only blemish on what could have been a perfect record.

Christophe Galtier’s side responded to the draw with a 3-0 win over Toulouse midweek. It could have been a larger scoreline had Maxime Dupe channelled his inner demon. With a new winning streak in the works, the Parisiens will be keen to make it back-to-back wins when they travel to the Beaujoire Stadium on Saturday.

While PSG have held the edge over Nantes historically, Les Canaris have won two of the three meetings since Antoine Kombouare took over the reins as manager in 2021. Galtier will be keen to put a dent in that record and will expect his far superior side to settle for nothing short of three points.

With 21 goals in just five games, PSG are by far the most prolific side in French football at this moment. Nantes in comparison have found the back of the net just six times and sit in the tenth spot in the Ligue 1 standings. While the home side might not be firing all cylinders, they have proven to be dogged contenders difficult to pin down. This is displayed by the fact that they have lost just twice in their last 18 games in the league, a tally that matches PSG’s record in the same timeframe.

While the Parisiens have been smashing their way through opposition defences, Nantes have largely settled for draws. In fact, only Strasbourg have managed more stalemates than Nantes in the league this calendar year. In some ways, one could term the clash on Saturday as that of an unstoppable object clashing against an immovable body.

This is the second time that both teams will be playing each other this season. They met in the French Super Cup earlier this month, a clash that PSG won 4-0. Unless Kombouare has learnt from the defeat and has a plan in store, it could be more of the same this weekend.

The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Nantes

The Canaries won their first game of the season at the weekend against Toulouse before salvaging a draw midweek against Strasbourg. While a home game is always welcome, facing off against a prolific PSG side will not be for the faint of heart.

Kombouare enjoyed excellent success against Mauricio Pochettino last season, but Galtier has proven to be a different challenge altogether. The French tactician has added more impetus and chemistry to the Parisien side’s gameplay and has in turn made them into a more dangerous outfit. As things stand, PSG look set to romp home to another Ligue 1 title. If they turn up on the night, the visit to the Beaujoire Stadium should result in yet another three points.

The Canaries’ boss will be without Quentin Merlin and Moussa Sissoko as they continue to recover from injuries. Moses Simon is also a doubt for the game after missing the clash against Strasbourg midweek.

Kombouare is likely to set his side up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on the night. His three at the back was easily exploited by the defending champions in the French Super Cup, and he has since stayed away from deploying it. Playing five in midfield should help crowd out Lionel Messi and Marco Verratti, potentially upsetting the away side’s rhythm. It could also help them crowd out the PSG full-backs, limiting their ability to run into spaces.

Alban Lafont will start in goal behind a back four of Sebastien Corchia, Jean-Charles Castelletto, Nicolas Pallois and Dennis Appiah. The double pivot of Samuel Moutoussamy and Andrei Girotto will be tasked with holding the fort in the midfield. This can act as a base for the trio of Ludovic Blas, Kader Bamba and Evann Guessand to feed Mostafa Mohamed upfront.

Nantes are also better off playing a counter-attacking system that can catch PSG off guard. Marquinhos was terrorised from the kick-off by Monaco and with Presnel Kimpembe out, the left side of the defence is far from solid. Sergio Ramos is also not getting any younger, and attacking him with pace could give the home side an opening or two.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lafont; Corchia, Castelletto, Pallois, Appiah; Moutoussamy, Girotto; Blas, Bamba, Guessand; Mohamed 

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Paris Saint-Germain

Another matchday and potentially another three points in the bag for the defending champions. Monaco might have dented their winning run, but the game could have been different had Kylian Mbappe and co taken their chances. The fact that PSG, despite not being at their best, saw off Toulouse convincingly speaks volumes about their ability to get the job done.

Galtier will be without Presnel Kimpembe and Pablo Sarabia as they continue to recover from injury. He has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. The additions of Carlos Soler and Fabian Ruiz give PSG more options, but it remains unlikely that the duo will be handed a full debut this weekend.

The PSG boss is unlikely to deviate from the 3-4-3 and its variants that have brought them much success this season. Gianluigi Donnarumma could start in goal behind a back three of Danilo Pereira, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos.

Achraf Hakimi was rested at the weekend and should reclaim his starting spot from Nordi Mukiele. The same cannot be said of Nuno Mendes, who could make way for Juan Bernat on the left flank. Marco Verratti is nigh on unstoppable and should retain his spot in the middle of the park alongside Vitinha. With a Champions League tie against Juventus coming up, Galtier will be keen for his side to settle the game early on and then ring in the changes.

This means that the electrifying front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will keep their spots. The trio have been in scintillating form so far and are linking up well with one another. Nantes will find them difficult to pin down unless they are at the top of their game, it could be another thrashing on the cards for the Canaries.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Bernat, Vitinha, Verratti, Hakimi; Messi, Neymar, Mbappe

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Key Stats

  • Nantes have a poor record against PSG since returning to the top flight and have won just three of their last 18 games against the French champions.
  • Nantes have won two of their last three games against PSG since the arrival of manager Antoine Kombouare and are one of the few sides in France to have got the better of the Parc des Princes in recent times.
  • Nantes have been involved in nine draws this year in Ligue 1. Only Strasbourg have managed more during this time with 10.
  • Both PSG and Nantes have lost just two of their last 18 Ligue 1 games apiece.
  • PSG have plundered in 31 goals in their previous six away games and have conceded just five times during that period.

Player to Watch

Neymar

Time to keep the good times rolling. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Neymar to keep the good times rolling. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Brazilian has taken his game up a notch and is finally looking like the world-beater that PSG shelled out the megabucks for. With seven goals and six assists in just five Ligue 1 games, the Samba star averages close to three goal contributions per game.

Neymar has also struck up a good understanding with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe this season. Even when not at his best, the 30-year-old has been clinical, putting away half opportunities that present themselves.

Mbappe’s pace and directness will be a nightmare for the Nantes defenders, drawing them away from Neymar, who can then work his magic. He absolutely ripped apart the Canaries in the Super Cup, and it will come as a surprise if he has a quiet evening.

Prediction

Nantes 0-3 PSG

While Nantes have proven to be a slippery side for PSG in recent memory, Galtier’s men are much more menacing than Mauricio Pochettino’s and have the killer instinct about themselves. The visitors will take some stopping, especially if they get off to a good start.  PSG are comfortably the better side on paper and have enough names to bring off the bench if needed. Anything less than a convincing win for the visitors will come as a major surprise.

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