Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Nice

PSG

Paris Saint-Germain’s defence of their Coupe de France crown continues with the visit of high-flying Nice to the Parc des Princes for the last-16 on Monday night.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side enter the contest on the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Reims, while the visitors ran out 2-0 winners at struggling Metz.

One would have typically expected to see at least one of Lionel Messi or Kylian Mbappe on the scoresheet as PSG put four past Reims in a dominant display last weekend, but a quartet of strikes from three rare goalscorers contributed to a Parisien romping.

Marco Verratti’s first Ligue 1 goal since June 2017 preceded efforts from Sergio Ramos and Danilo Pereira at the Parc des Princes, and the little Italian also witnessed another one of his efforts take a significant deflection off of Wout Faes into the back of the net.

It would take a monumental collapse for PSG to concede the Ligue 1 title now, with Pochettino’s men comfortably 11 points clear of their upcoming second-placed opponents at the summit before attention turns to their crunch clash with Real Madrid next month.

For now, though, PSG have a third consecutive Coupe de France triumph firmly in their sights after seeing off Vannes and Feignies Aulnoye in the earlier rounds without conceding a single goal, and success in the 2021-22 edition would represent a record-extending 15th crown in the tournament.

Not since the 2013-14 season have PSG failed to reach the final of the Coupe de France, and it is now 13 wins from their last 14 at the Parc des Princes for Pochettino’s side, who could arguably not be facing a more difficult test en route to the last eight.

While his former club and reigning champions Lille continue to languish in mid-table obscurity, Christophe Galtier continues to weave his magic at Nice, who as things stand are PSG’s closest challengers for title glory this season, despite the double-figure points chasm separating them.

It was little surprise to see Amine Gouiri on the scoresheet against Metz – although his cheeky panenka penalty very nearly backfired courtesy of a scrambling Marc-Aurele Caillard – and an earlier finish from Khephren Thuram had broken the deadlock for Les Aiglons.

Nice have some ground to make up if they are to become serious challengers to PSG for the Ligue 1 title, but a run of six wins on the bounce in all competitions has sent tongues wagging, which includes their maiden Coupe de France win over Cholet last month.

Les Aiglons were due to take on the winner of Paris FC and Lyon’s tie in the last 32, but with both teams being expelled from the competition due to crowd trouble in their encounter, Nice received a bye into the last-16 – only the second time in eight seasons that they have made it this far.

The 2010-11 edition marks the last time that Nice managed to advance to the quarter-finals or beyond – losing in the final four to Lille that year – and remarkably, the 1997 Coupe de France winners travel to Paris on the back of a four-game winning run away from home across all competitions – keeping clean sheets in each of their last three.

Galtier’s side managed to hold PSG to a goalless stalemate during their Ligue 1 battle at the Parc des Princes last month, but that result stretched Nice’s winless run against the capital side to eight games since a 3-1 win in the 2016-17 season.

Paris Saint-Germain Coupe de France form:
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Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
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Nice Coupe de France form:
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Nice form (all competitions):
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We say: Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Nice (Nice to win on penalties)
Despite the 11-point gap separating the two sides in the Ligue 1 table, Nice have already proved that they can go toe-to-toe with PSG at the Parc des Princes, and a fully-fit squad on a six-game winning streak is everything that Galtier could have been blessed with here.

On the other hand, Pochettino has many key absences to work around and may be forced to field an inexperienced name in between the sticks, so we can envisage the defending champions’ journey ending here, but Nice may have to do it the hard way from 12 yards.

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