After their European exertions, PSG will resume domestic duty as they welcome struggling side Reims to the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
With an eye-popping 24 point lead at the top of the table, Les Parisiens are still the only unbeaten side remaining in Europe’s top five leagues. Their 0-0 draw with Lille last weekend was only the fourth time they have failed to win, and all in all, they have dropped just eight points all season. Given their massive advantage, their focus has perhaps turned to making history in becoming the first ever French team to complete a campaign without defeat, but with a tough return-leg clash in the Champions League versus Chelsea coming up, Laurent Blanc will be keen on seeing his men wrap up the title race as quickly as possible.
By contrast, Olivier Guegan’s men are facing a tough battle to stay out of the drop zone. After picking up two vital wins against Caen and Angers, Reims suffered a major setback as they were defeated by Bastia in the last round. This now leaves them in 17th place and just two points away from the dreaded relegation zone, and in all honesty, this could not be a more inconvenient time to be facing the runaway leaders. However, the reverse fixture earlier this season really made Les Parisiens have to work just to secure a point; in fact, were it not for Edinson Cavani’s late goal, the reigning champions would have suffered their first loss of the season back on September 19th.
With the exception of Javier Pastore, who despite featuring against Chelsea, is still not 100 per cent fit, and Serge Aurier, who has been suspended after making insulting remarks about his manager and several of his teammates, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and then stupidly putting it out on social media, Blanc will have a full-strength squad available for selection. Yet following the scoreless stalemate with Lille, he will likely field a modified – albeit stronger – line-up for this game as, despite Reims’ struggles, their opponents will be keen on emulating Lille’s result to hold them to a draw as they will need each and every single point they can get in order to avoid making a return to Ligue 2.
Unlike Blanc, Guegan has quite a few players who will not be able to feature. For starters, striker Nicolas de Préville missed some practice sessions this week, and despite not being fully fit, will be thrown into action against PSG. Definite absentees will include Grejohn Kyei, Hugo Rodriguez, Frédéric Bulot, Jordan Siebatcheu, and Alexis Peuget is in doubt after complaining of muscular problems earlier this week. Finally, Hamari Traore will have to sit this one out due to a ban.
Reims have yet to defeat PSG at the capital club’s home ground, but they did manage to beat Les Parisiens nearly three years ago on March 2, 2013, when they powered past them 1-0. Curiously enough, two out of their last three meetings have finished as draws. Will Reims be able to make it three in four on Saturday evening? Or will PSG bounce back from a frustrating stalemate with a resounding win at the Parc des Princes?
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