First meets third in Saturday’s Ligue 1 showdown at the Allianz Riviera, as Nice play host to runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain in the evening.
Les Aiglons head into this game having just reached the Coupe de France final, while PSG ran out 3-1 winners over Saint-Etienne last week.
One month on from ending PSG’s title defence in the Coupe de France, Nice crushed Versailles’ dreams of a place in the final at the Stade de France with a thoroughly professional performance against their fourth-tier opponents on Tuesday evening.
Amine Gouiri opened the scoring for Les Aiglons before Kasper Dolberg also struck in a comfortable 2-0 semi-final win to send Nice into the showpiece event, and only Nantes now stand in their way of a slice of domestic glory.
Christophe Galtier has overseen some magnificent changes to this Aiglons outfit since arriving from reigning champions Lille – none more so than their new-found defensive solidity – but they could not find a way past podium rivals Strasbourg in a goalless stalemate during their most recent Ligue 1 game.
However, Les Aiglons’ Champions League destiny remains in their own hands, as they enter the weekend sitting third in the table and three points clear of fourth-placed Rennes, but PSG are a whopping 16 points ahead of their upcoming opponents.
Nice’s 2-0 Coupe de France win over Versailles marked a third clean sheet on the bounce for the high-flyers, and with three of their last four Ligue 1 matches at the Allianz Riviera ending in victory, PSG cannot expect to stroll to another comfortable success.
A resurgent Saint-Etienne side threatened an almighty shock at the Parc des Princes after Denis Bouanga gave Les Verts the lead over PSG, but the title favourites soon found their groove to steer further clear in the race for the Ligue 1 crown.
Kylian Mbappe would equalise for Les Parisiens on the stroke of half time before Lionel Messi once again laid the ball on a plate for him to finish just after the restart, and the Frenchman soon turned provider for Danilo Pereira’s header in a 3-1 triumph.
Mbappe equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 156-goal tally for PSG in that win and is now 44 adrift of all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani, but the Real Madrid-linked Frenchman will not have the chance to close the gap on the Uruguayan this week as he serves a suspension.
While Mbappe and his 14 Ligue 1 goals will be a huge miss, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have opened up a 15-point gap to Marseille in second place, which could very well come in handy here seeing as Les Parisiens have won just one of their last five away games in the top flight.
Pochettino’s side have also failed to keep a clean sheet away from home in Ligue 1 since October, and the runaway leaders were held to a 0-0 draw by Galtier’s side at the Parc des Princes before their penalty shootout heartache in the Coupe de France.
Nice Ligue 1 form:
Nice form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
We say: Nice 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
The absence of proven goal-getter Mbappe is huge for PSG, and attempting to breach a resilient Nice rearguard away from home without their top scorer will be a tall order for Pochettino’s side.
While we do expect PSG to find a way through, Galtier’s side know what it takes to get a result against the capital outfit and will be buoyed by reaching the final of the Coupe de France, so we are expecting the two top-three sides to play out a hotly-contested draw.