Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Prediction: Reims vs PSG

Verdict: Away win by two or more goals

Best odds: 13/25

Bookmaker: Unibet

Paris Saint-Germain will be travelling to Reims this weekend, and the two teams will be doing battle for points in the 2021-22 Ligue 1 season at the Stade Auguste-Delaune on Sunday evening.

Stade de Reims

Reims narrowly avoided relegation from the French top flight last season, and their hope this term will be to repeat the feat, though probably in a more comfortable fashion. They finished 14th, but only two points above Nantes in 18th, who had to fight their way through relegation play-offs to stay in the league.

At the moment, things aren’t looking either too good or too bad for the team under the command of Oscar Garcia. They are both undefeated and winless after three rounds, having drawn 0-0 away to Nice, 3-3 at home against Montpellier, and 1-1 away to Metz. There can be no doubt that this streak will be put to a difficult test on Sunday. The three points they’ve won so far have them sharing places 11 and 12 with Saint-Etienne, who have the same tally, the same number of goals scored, and the same number of goals conceded.

Reims have made a few signings this summer, most notably centre-back Andreaw Gravillon, who has arrived on loan from Inter Milan and has already played in all three league games so far. They’ve also added 40-year-old goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau to their ranks, but the veteran shot-stopper is only the third choice between the posts.

Team News

Garcia won’t be able to call upon winger Arber Zeneli, who is out with a cruciate ligament rupture. Striker Anastasios Donis is a doubt due to a hamstring issue, as are winger Moussa Doumbia and striker Kaj Sierhuis.

The coach won’t have too many reasons to deviate from the lineup he sent out against Metz. Predrag Rajkovic should be in goal, with the trio of Gravillon, captain Yunis Abdelhamid and Wout Faes just ahead. Marshall Monetsi and Moreto Cassama should pair up in the middle of the park, flanked by wing-backs Ghislain Konan and Thomas Foket. Upfront, young striker El Bilal Toure is likely to have Mathieu Cafaro and Ilan Kebbal in support.

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG have been one of the most talked-about clubs in the world this summer, mostly due to securing a number of extraordinary signings – the arrival of Lionel Messi from Barcelona on a free transfer certainly not least. Apart from the Argentinian superstar, they’ve also acquired the services of former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, all as free agents. Apart from that, they paid a reported fee of €16 million for midfielder Danilo Perreira from FC Porto, and close to €70m for right-back Achraf Hakimi from Inter Milan.

On the other hand, their immediate priority is to try and keep Kylian Mbappe in their ranks. The French forward will be out of contract next summer and has reportedly rejected three different proposals of a renewal amid strong interest from Real Madrid.

It’s quite obvious that the team led by Mauricio Pochettino is going for all trophies on offer this term, but they’ll have their eyes mostly on the elusive Champions League one.

As might have been expected, PSG started the new campaign with three wins, and they’re the only team with a 100% record in the league. Naturally, that means they top the table with nine points. They managed to beat Troyes away by 1-2, Strasbourg at home by 4-2, and Brest away last week by 2-4. The goals in that match were scored by Ander Herrera, Mbappe, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Angel Di Maria.

Team News

Messi is still reportedly working on regaining a sufficient fitness level and it remains to be seen if he is ready to play on Sunday. The same goes for Brazilian star Neymar. Defenders Presnel Kimpembe and Layvin Kurzawa are doubts as well. However, Ramos is out with a calf problem. Gueye is injured as well, as are right-back Colin Dagba and striker Mauro Icardi.

Keylor Navas should keep his place between the posts ahead of Donnarumma. Kimpembe, if fit, should partner Thilo Kehrer in the heart of defence, but if not, Marquinhos will be ready to take his place. Marco Veratti, Wijnaldum and Herrera should all be in the midfield section of the lineup. Mbappe seems nailed on to start unless there are important developments over his future in the next 24 hours. It’s not very likely that both Messi and Neymar will be fit to play, so Di Maria is likely to have a place in the lineup, along with Julian Draxler or Pablo Sarabia.

Conclusion

Whatever team Pochettino sends out, PSG will be strong favourites to win. Anything but a complete thrashing would be a good result for the home side.

Verdict: Away win by two or more goals

Best odds: 13/25

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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