Paris Saint-Germain welcome Reims to the Parc des Princes for their final home match of the season on Sunday, in a must-win situation where any other result than a victory could potentially hand table-toppers Lille the Ligue 1 title.
PSG lost the chance to close in on their challengers with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Rennes in their last outing. Reims continue searching for an elusive victory after suffering a 1-0 loss at home Monaco last Sunday.
Despite winning 24 of their 36 league games, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are stuck behind league leaders Lille by three points. A heated 90 minutes against Rennes in their previous outing saw the Parisians manage a 1-1 draw after defender Presnel Kimpembe was sent off moments before full-time. Neymar opened the scoring through a penalty in the added time of the first half, but Rennes winger Serhou Guirassy’s late equaliser dented PSG’s hopes of closing the gap with Les Dogues.
Although the Parisians have taken 13 points from the last possible 15 in Ligue 1, their defensive unit have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last eight league outings – a stat which should encourage Reims to produce a stunner this weekend.
However, PSG’s toilsome victory in the Coupe de France semi-final against Montpellie midweek should somewhat relieve their Argentine coach, who will be shifting all his attention towards the French Cup final against Monaco next week. But nonetheless, the Parisians still have a league to finish. If they fail to gain the upper hand against minnows Reims, Neymar and his colleagues would have to surrender their Ligue 1 crown to Lille if they manage to better PSG’s result against Saint-Etienne.
Guests Reims have drawn 15 out of their 36 league games, and coupled with a mere two wins from their last 14 fixtures in Ligue 1, they head to the Parc des Princes as clear underdogs.
Reims would have accepted anything but a loss against an inspiring Monaco side in their last game, but Eliot Matazo cancelled out those dreams within the 20th minute, leaving the opponents at the 13th spot with 42 points in hand.
While David Guion and his men have almost completed the season in an expected mid-table finish, Reims can still end up in the relegation playoff spot, so a win or two victories in their remaining fixtures are of utmost importance.
The Les Rouges et Blances had bagged all three points in a 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes in September 2019. Heading on to Sunday’s fixture, they can boost their motivation thanks to their decent five-game unbeaten run on the road.
Kylian Mbappe has been nothing short of genius for the Parisians this season. In 44 overall appearances, Mbappe has scored 39 goals, assisting 10 more – justifying his talent once again this term. But with his contract expiring next summer and speculations over his Real Madrid future PSG are under heavy pressure of retaining their superstar.
33-year-old Angel Di Maria has been enjoying another quiet but successful year with the Parisians. The Argentine adds an extra spark to PSG’s already lethal front force whenever he graces the pitch and clocks an average of 2.5 key passes per game with 2.1 shots on target. So far, the former Real Madrid winger has gone through over 2400 minutes of action, scoring 6 goals and creating another 16 in 40 appearances in all competition.
In Reims’ remarkable 2019-20 season, where they finished sixth while conceding the least number of goals in the entire campaign, skipper Yunis Abdelhamid was unplayable at times creating an impenetrable backline with his teammates. The 33-year-old Moroccan has appeared in 32 league games till now and is his club’s best performer according to WhoScored. The centre-back manages 1.9 interceptions with 1.8 tackles per 90, and an average of 3.8 clearances per game has been pivotal even in an overall gloomy season.
The Senegalese international Boulaye Dia has enjoyed an impressive campaign for Reims this term, scoring 16 times in 37 domestic appearances and possesses a powerful presence with an explosive pace which proved to be a real nuisance for the opposition’s defence earlier in the season. Dia racks up 1.4 dribbles and 1.7 shots per game in Ligue 1 this campaign has been labelled by pundits as a player who likes to play off the shoulder of the defender. The 24-year-old forward is apparently allowed to leave the Ligue 1 outfit at the end of this campaign, as revealed by club president Jean-Pierre Caillot in a recent interview with Canal Plus. And rumour has it that around €15m would be enough to sign the forward with West Ham, Napoli and Fiorentina all lining up to secure his services.
PSG are clear favourites for matchday 36 as securing all three points on Sunday would take the title race right down to the wire.
Reims may probably go all-out attack right from the kick-off with practically nothing to play for if they are to salvage something from the French capital.