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Ranieri and Nantes after PSG scalp

Ligue 1 Conforama > News
17/11/2017

By A. Scott

Claudio Ranieri's FC Nantes head to the Parc des Princes on Saturday looking to inflict a first defeat of the season on Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Paris Saint-Germain  -  FC Nantes

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Nantes have been the surprise package of the campaign so far with Les Canaris sitting in fifth place over the international break, just two points off the podium. After losing his first two games at the helm, Ranieri has overseen a run of just one defeat in 10 league outings that included a 2-1 home victory over Toulouse FC a fortnight ago, when Emiliano Sala's third goal of the season secured the points.

However, they have not beaten any of the sides who made up the top six coming into the weekend and all of their victories have been by a single-goal margin. The contrast with PSG is striking, with the capital club having won 11 games in all competitions by a margin of at least three goals.

Highlights: PSG blow away Angers

PSG have the best attack in the division, running at an average of more than three goals a game, while Nantes have scored just 11 times in 12 Ligue 1 Conforama outings. But Ranieri's side have constructed their success around a mean defence that has let in only nine goals so far. So how does the Italian think his side can come away with something from the capital? 

Park the bus?

"If I could play with 22 players," he joked. "No, I want my team to be relaxed, play with determination and put in a good performance. I know we might lose the game, but we need to try to play as we have up to now, to be compact and attentive. And then if one of their great players invents something, congratulations to them."

Ranieri also suggested that he might have to try parking two buses in front of Ciprian Tătăruşanu's goal to keep Neymar Jr. and co at bay. He added: "There is always a precise idea (of how to play). Ideas are fantastic, but the reality is a bit different. Paris have built a great team. Thirty-nine goals scored, eight conceded, so the league is for them. They are a side who could win the Champions League. As an Italian, I hope an Italian team wins it, but if not I hope it will be PSG because I work in France."

Highlights: Nantes get the better of Toulouse

History suggests it will be a long afternoon for the visitors, with Nantes having lost on each of their last nine visits to PSG on league duty since Sylvain Armand - who went on make close to 300 league appearances in nine seasons with Paris - scored to secure a 1-0 win in November 2002. PSG are also unbeaten in 40 home games in all competitions.

But Ranieri will also hope that the timing of this fixture helps his side. His PSG counterpart Unai Emery saw many of his players - including his array of Brazilians - depart on international duty over the last fortnight and also has the UEFA Champions League clash with Celtic to think about in midweek.

Motta faces operation

"Emery has choices and good choices too. And Brazil played in Lille and London. I was hoping they might have played in New Zealand," the always good humoured Ranieri said. "But it is good for our players to test themselves against these great champions. Champions League teams like Bayern Munich and Anderlecht have lost to them, so Nantes could lose too, but I am curious to see how we perform."

PSG ran out 5-0 victors at Angers SCO in their last outing and have scored 13 goals and conceded none in their last three games in all competitions. They are in frightening form, but Emery does have selection concerns this weekend. Presnel Kimpembe is suspended while Thiago Motta is set to be out until the New Year after it emerged that he needs an operation on his right knee.

"Last season Nantes did really well under Sérgio Conceição and they have maintained that same level with Ranieri," said Emery. "They are strong and well organised and it is difficult to score goals against them. Ranieri has great experience in the game and has won the Premier League with Leicester. He has an idea of how to play the game and it will be very difficult to beat them. We will need to play with patience in order to create spaces."

Probable teams

Paris SG: Areola; Daniel Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (cap), Kurzawa; Verratti, Rabiot, Draxler; Mbappé, Cavani, Neymar

Nantes: Tatarusanu; Dubois (cap), Diego Carlos, Pallois, Djidji; Touré, Rongier; Iloki, Thomasson, Lima; Sala

>> PRE-MATCH STATS/HEAD-TO-HEAD

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