Paris Saint-Germain will be keen to keep their strong start to the 2022-23 campaign going when they welcome OGC Nice to the Parc des Princes on Saturday.

Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain will welcome OGC Nice to the Parc des Princes as Ligue 1 games resume this weekend following the international break.

The Parisians are unbeaten this season in the league and are by far the team to beat. Christophe Galtier’s side hasn’t just racked up the most goals but are also in possession of the French top flight’s best defence. Having dropped just two points from their first eight games, Nice will be hard-pressed to get a result on the night.

Les Aiglons have endured a difficult season so far and have won just two of their opening eight games. They are just three points off the bottom three and could be dragged into the relegation dogfight if results don’t improve soon.

On paper, the game appears to be a mismatch. PSG are not just a vastly superior side but also in the form of their lives. Nice made several promising moves last summer, but their roster is yet to hit top gear. However, they do have the edge over PSG in recent clashes, and it remains to be seen if Lucien Favre can pull one out of the hat at the Parc des Princes.

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

Team News & Tactics

Paris Saint-Germain

Galtier and co have started the season well and are a side brimming with quality and strength in depth. They will, however, take to the field sans Presnel Kimpembe and Marco Verratti. Both players are not just suspended for the game but are also nursing hamstring and calf injuries respectively.

While Kimpembe’s loss will be felt, PSG will be hard-pressed to replace Verratti. The Italian international has been the beating heart of PSG’s midfield, and this will be the first full game this season where Galtier will be forced to make do without him.

PSG are unlikely to deviate from the 3-4-3 formation that has brought them much success this season. Gianluigi Donnarumma will start in goal behind the back three of Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos and Danilo Pereira.

Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes will start wide and will act as the wing-backs for the home side. Vitinha will start in the middle of the park alongside Fabian Ruiz. With Renato Sanches also injured, Carlos Soler could also find himself in contention to make the starting XI. Who partners Vitinha in the middle of the park could be a coin toss between the two Spaniards.

Neymar and Lionel Messi impressed with their national sides and will reprise their roles in attack behind Kylian Mbappe. The Frenchman will be keen to get back to scoring ways, and a quick start should do his confidence wonders.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Ramos, Marquinhos, Pereira; Hakimi, Vitinha, Ruiz, Mendes. Messi, Neymar; Mbappe

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OGC Nice

Nice will be without Jean-Clair Todibo for the game. The Frenchman made history when he was sent off against Angers after just nine seconds, the quickest red card in Ligue 1 history. He is now suspended for the game against PSG.

Aaron Ramsey is also nursing a hamstring injury and is a doubt to start on the night. He is likely to settle for a place on the bench. Lucien Favre is a veteran of the game and will be keen to extend his side’s three-game unbeaten streak against the champions, something not many French sides can lay claim to.

Nice are likely to deploy in a rigid 4-4-2 that will hope to cut off service to PSG’s dynamic front three. Les Aiglons can spring a surprise on their day but are yet to get going this season. Shocking PSG will be a good place to start for Favre and co.

Kasper Schmeichel will start in goal behind a back four of Jordan Lotomba, Mattia Viti, Dante and Melvin Bard. Nicolas Pepe and Sogiane Diop will start in the wings and will be entrusted with making use of their pace on the counterattack. Kheprem Thuram and Mario Lemina will act as the defensive shield in midfield.

The setup also offers Favre the opportunity to shift to a 4-2-3-1 formation with the latter two midfielders forming the double pivot. Gaetan Laborde and Andy Delorte will start up front and will hope to spring a surprise on PSG’s vaunted back three.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Lotomba, Viti, Dante, Bard; Pepe, Thuram, Lemina, Diop; Delort, Laborde

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Key Stats

  • Nice were one of the two sides to avoid defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in last season’s Ligue 1 campaign.
  • With 26 goals from eight games, PSG lead the Ligue 1 scoring charts this season. Nice have managed to find the back of the net just five times, a tally that is better than only bottom-placed Ajaccio.
  • PSG have not lost at home to Nice since 2009, a run that extends to 11 games.
  • PSG have failed to score in their last three games against Nice. This is the first time that the Parisiens have managed the feat since their middle east takeover.
  • PSG are currently unbeaten in their last 17 games in Ligue 1. This is the longest such run in the French top-flight at this moment in time.
  • Nice have failed to score in four Ligue 1 games this season. Apart from Ajaccio, all other top-flight clubs have managed to do better.
  • PSG have won their previous two Ligue 1 games by a scoreline of 1-0. The last time they failed to score more than one goal in three consecutive Ligue 1 games was in September 2020.

Player to Watch

Vitinha

Embed from Getty Images

The summer signing has been a revelation for PSG and has formed a formidable partnership with Marco Verratti in the middle of the park. His ability to not just win back the ball but also recycle possession makes him an imperative addition to the Parisien roster.

His ability to be the main man in midfield will be put to the test this weekend as Verratti serves his suspension. Whether it be Carlos Soler or Fabian Ruiz, it will be Vitiha, who is entrusted to hold the fort in midfield. This is his chance to come out of Verratti’s shadow and make a name for himself as a midfield general for Galtier’s side.

Prediction

Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 OGC Nice

PSG have a few first-teamers missing on the night, but the gulf between the two sides more or less makes this a foregone conclusion. The trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe could have a field day against an ageing Dante and a young Viti. Anything less than a comfortable win for the home side will come as a surprise given the chasm of form and quality between the two sides.

Comments 1

  1. Josehns Goncalves says:

    Beautiful game. When will PSG and FIFA pay attention to players trying to break Neymar and referees looking the other way?
    Enough is enough.
    Is it a soccer mafia strategy to win the cup before it start?

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