Seeking an immediate return to winning ways, runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain prepare to welcome Brest to the Parc des Princes on Saturday night.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Lyon last time out, while the visitors slumped to a 3-0 defeat at home to high-flying Nice.
Without Brazilian wing king Neymar up to his old tricks on the flanks, it was up to Lyon’s Selecao stars to explode the encounter at the Groupama Stadium into life last week, as Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta combined for the latter to fire home the opener after just seven minutes.
Peter Bosz’z under-performing crop seemed destined to secure a priceless three points against PSG – albeit one hit with multiple absentees – but Pochettino’s side restored parity through an unlikely source in out-of-favour defender Thilo Kehrer with 14 minutes remaining.
PSG have certainly developed an affinity for stalemates in Ligue 1 in recent times – drawing four of their last five games in the top flight – but they still boast a healthy 11-point lead over Nice and Marseille in the rankings, although Les Olympiens do have a game in hand.
The 1-1 with Lyon marked PSG’s 11th game in a row without defeat in Ligue 1, although their run of draws over the festive period will not please Pochettino, who will certainly stress the message to his depleted crop that his first-ever league title is not in the bag just yet.
However, Les Parisiens enter Saturday’s game having taken 25 points from 27 on offer at home this season – scoring at least two goals in all but one of their Parc des Princes encounters – and Brest have their work cut out to march to a famous result at the capital fortress.
Kasper Dolberg sure did provide quite the Danish delight at the Stade Francis Le Ble last Sunday, as the Nice man powered home the opener from outside the area before Brest sought to take advantage of Morgan Schneiderlin’s 20th-minute sending off.
However, even a man advantage could not help Michel Der Zakarian’s side get one over the title outsiders, as Andy Delort slotted home to double Les Aiglons’ lead in the dying embers before Amine Gouiri’s stellar solo effort ended all Brest hopes of a comeback.
That 3-0 defeat was a harsh reality check for Les Pirates after they had seen off a youthful Bordeaux outfit 3-0 in the Coupe de France, and they travel to Paris down in 13th in the table, although they are safely nine points clear of the bottom three.
Der Zakarian certainly endeared himself to the Pirates faithful with that memorable six-game winning streak in the autumn, and while Brest have subsequently taken just one point from their last three in the league, a five-game unbeaten run on the road will serve to increase the confidence that an upset could be on the cards.
However, Les Pirates succumbed to a 2-4 defeat to PSG on home soil back in August, which marked their 10th consecutive defeat against the capital side in all competitions, and it has been nearly 37 years since Brest last came up trumps versus Les Parisiens.
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
Brest Ligue 1 form:
Brest form (all competitions):
We say: Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 Brest
While it remains to be seen which players PSG will be able to welcome back from their COVID-19 cluster, it will surely be too big an ask for Brest to prevent the league leaders from returning to winning ways.
Keeping the back door shut away from home is not one of Brest’s strong points – despite their impressive run without defeat on rival turf – but their wait for a first win against PSG since 1985 is sure to continue this weekend.