A tantalizing clash awaits as reigning champs PSG welcome current league leaders Nice to the Parc des Princes on Sunday evening.
In seasons past, this would generally just be a routine game. PSG vs. Nice does not have the same kind of history as Les Parisiens vs. Marseille, which is nicknamed “Le Classique” (a play on the hugely famous El Clasico).
But this season has shaped out to be one of the most interesting ones fans have seen in a while. For starters, Les Parisiens are not having it so easy this time around. Last term, they cruised to the Ligue 1 title in record-breaking fashion; in fact, the title race was over by March 13th.
PSG will be coming into this game having had a rough week. First, they were shocked 3-0 by Montpellier, and then had to scrap and scrape to earn a 2-2 draw in their last Champions League group stage game. Les Parisiens were set to battle Arsenal for top spot, but were frustrated by lowly Ludogorets, who were desperate to earn a Europa League spot at the expense of Basel.
As a result, they finished second, behind the Gunners, meaning they could face a tough foe in the round of 16. (Given they just can’t seem to avoid Barcelona, don’t be surprised to see them paired off with the Blaugrana in the next round).
Unai Emery will need his men to re-group and refocus. Nice have already shown they are indeed a serious title contender. They have lost just one match this season. And Lucien Favre’s men have already faced another title aspirant: Monaco. They crushed Les Rouges-et-Blancs 4-0, which clearly shows they are not just parking the bus and holding out for a 1-0 result or a draw. Nice have scored 30 goals so far, which puts them level with PSG. Only Monaco have netted more. And having conceded just ten goals, they can boast to have one of the strongest defenses in the league.
In addition, the visitors will be welcoming back Mario Balotelli for this fixture. The Italian international had scored six goals in Ligue 1 before suffering a calf injury and has easily settled in with the side. In his absence, Alassane Plea, who has nine goals and is third in the Ligue 1 goal-scorer’s charts behind Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette, has been more than picking up the slack.
With 39 points, Les Aiglons are truly soaring. They are three points clear of Monaco, and in fact, this is the best total they have amassed in their history at this juncture. Will they be able to dispatch another title rival in the same fashion they did against Monaco? Or will Les Parisiens – who have a formidable home record – close the gap?