Two of the three sides in Ligue 1 thus far with perfect records clash on Friday night with the chance to go top of the league up for grabs. Paris Saint Germain with Neymar in their ranks have looked invisible whereas Saint Etienne under Oscar Garcia been indestructible at the back.
Paris Saint-Germain go into the game against Saint-Etienne basking in sensational form and lead the way in France with a perfect nine points from nine. The arrival of Neymar has lived up to, and exceeded, all expectations up to this point – scoring and assisting six goals in only two games – but the visit of a defensively flawless Saint-Etienne has the potential of being Paris’ first real challenge of the new season.
The visitors have hit the ground running this season; Les Verts beat one of last seasons key title challengers, Nice, 1-0 on the opening weekend and have yet to concede a single goal throughout the two victories that followed against Caen and Amiens respectively. Saint-Etienne also have revenge on their minds after PSG humbled them 5-0 last season in Christophe Galtier’s last home game after 8 years in charge of Les Verts.
Both teams have their 100% records on the line when they meet on Friday night and the task isn’t made any easier of PSG without key man Marco Verratti who is serving the first of his three match suspension following his dismissal against Toulouse last weekend. His absence, however, makes interesting viewing for PSG fans since Blaise Matuidi moved on in his career. Young prospects Nkunku and Lo Celso can fill the void but Javier Pastore would be the most likely candidate to step into the Italians boots. The Parc witnessed a goal scoring flee when the Argentinian was introduced last Sunday, and though he won’t be able to take over Verratti’s starting spot when he returns, if he plays and impresses El Flaco may be able to force his way into the team at Di Maria’s expense.
Despite the absence of Marco Verratti, the world’s most expensive player has already blown away every opponent he has faced, and many supporters like myself, with pure entertainment and some out of this world performances since moving to France. The visitors will have a tough job on their hands if they aim to halt the Neymar show in Paris this weekend too!
In terms of team news, Verratti is the biggest absence but Berchiche is the one major inclusion in the squad. The Spanish full-back joined in the summer on a 4 year deal and could be set to make his PSG debut this weekend. Julian Draxler could also be a contender to start after regaining match fitness but Lucas Moura is left out once again amid rumours he could be heading to Monaco in a swap deal for Kylian Mbappe!
Predicted Starting XI
(4-3-3) Areola; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Kurzawa; Motta, Rabiot, Pastore; Di Maria, Cavani, Neymar
Subs: Trapp, Meunier, Kimpembe, Berchiche, Nkunku, Draxler, Lo Celso,
PSG 2-1 Saint-Etienne
I believe PSG will have enough to see off a tough Saint-Etienne challenge. The Parisian defence looked shaky against Toulouse but with Neymar, Cavani and Di Maria leading the line Emery’s men should be able to outscore many opponents this season, and this weekend will be no different despite the visitors incredible defensive record.