Although Les Parisiens have already been crowned champions of England, with plenty of time to spare, perhaps life at the Ligue 1 summit has gotten pretty lonely for Laurent Blanc’s side. Or a sense of complacency has started to creep in. Whatever the reason, a 2-0 loss to Monaco at the Parc des Princes is not exactly how PSG had planned to celebrate their fourth straight title, and fans will be expecting much better this time around.
With an intriguing Champions League quarter-final clash against Manchester City looming on the horizon, PSG will certainly want to head into that big game off the back of a confidence-boosting win this weekend. However, Nice, who presently sit in third spot, will not make it easy. Les Aiglons will be coming into this match having won their past three games and will certainly want to make it a fourth as they hope to stay ahead of Lyon, who are just one point behind in fourth.
In addition, Claude Puel’s men have kept three clean sheets in their past five matches. To further highlight the visitors’ improvement, they had managed the same number before, but it was three in twelve games. On-loan Valere Germain (whose parent club is Monaco) has been highly instrumental in Nice’s recent renaissance, with three goals and two assists, meaning that he has been directly involved in five out of the team’s past eight goals. Naturally, his manager will be counting on him heavily against PSG, especially considering the fact that they have not beaten them since December 1, 2012, and since then, they have lost every single one of their six competitive meetings.
The reverse fixture earlier this season ended as a 3-0 loss for Nice, who also had a man sent off. Although PSG have failed to win their past two home games, they are viewed as the heavy favorites to come out on top in this match. Star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has developed a knack for netting against Les Aiglons, with eight goals in his past six matches, which puts Nice only second behind Saint-Etienne, against whom he has scored ten goals.
Although PSG are virtually untouchable at the top of the Ligue 1 table, the fact that they have lost as many games in their past four as they did in their prior 47 will not sit well with supporters. After all, there is still another record for the team to break – the number of points accumulated in a season – and dropping points here and there obviously will not help them achieve this goal.
With the big game against Manchester City, Blanc will face a tricky decision as to how to manage his starting XI in order to keep key players fresh for their must-win European tie. Do not be surprised, however, if he decides to field a bunch of youngsters as, in all honesty, they already have won the domestic title and can turn their attention to the one trophy that has repeatedly eluded them: the Champions League.
In terms of injuries, only Italian international Marco Verratti is still definitely out, but Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore may or may not feature, as the former picked up a knock on international duty and the latter has been struggling with muscular problems.
One player, however, that could return to the fold is Serge Aurier, who was not out injured, but suspended for his controversial remarks. For those who do not remember, the Ivorian was caught on camera making derogatory comments about his manager and his teammates, especially Ibrahimovic, back in February, leading to his ban for nearly two months. However, he has since been re-instated with the team and could feature this weekend.
As for the visitors, they will be missing Mathieu Bodmer, Mahamane Traoré, and Mickael Le Bihan as a result of injuries, and Jérémy Pied will sit out due to a ban. Will Nice be able to arrest their poor run against PSG? Or will Les Parisiens bounce back after their loss to Monaco with a resounding home win?
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