Paris Saint-Germain will have to reshuffle their back line with captain Marquinhos out of Friday's trip to Nîmes after sustaining an injury while on international duty with Brazil. Abdou Diallo is in line to replace him.
The PSG defender suffered a thigh injury in his country's 4-2 win over Peru on Wednesday, a game in which club and international teammate Neymar scored a hat-trick to move past Ronaldo and go second only to the legendary Pelé in Brazil's all-time scoring charts.
While the mesmerising attacker could feature at the Stade des Costières depending on how he recovers from the sapping trans-Atlantic trip, Marquinhos will be absent leaving coach Thomas Tuchel with a problem as he has just one obvious option.
Thilo Kehrer is injured, so Diallo is in line to make only his second league start this season. His previous inclusion in the starting XI — the 1-0 win over FC Metz — saw him sent off shortly after the hour-mark. The former Borussia Dortmund defender is also left-footed, just like the man he would line up alongside, France international Presnel Kimpembe.
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Who figures in his backline is not Tuchel's only personnel problem. Marco Verratti and Julian Draxler also returned from international duty injured, joining Juan Bernat on the sidelines. Ander Herrera's positive COVID-19 test means he will miss out and Danilo Pereira, who was with the Portugal squad along with another coronavirus positive Cristiano Ronaldo, is self-isolating. New signing Rafinha could make his PSG debut while Mauro Icardi's knee injury could mean another new face, Moïse Kean, is another debutant.
With PSG starting their 2020-21 UEFA Champions League tilt at home to Manchester United on Tuesday, Tuchel knows he has to find the right combination even if he insisted it was his club's domestic duties that are foremost in his mind.
"Our challenge is great. I need to find solutions in order to have an ambitious team at Nîmes tomorrow, a team that will allow us to attack and to score goals. We have never taken a match lightly before the Champions League and we won't start tomorrow," explained the PSG boss.
"We must pay attention to the health of the players, and some like [Kylian] Mbappé or the South Americans have played a lot and travelled. We're not going to be thinking about the Manchester United game, but the situation means that we must plan ahead a bit."
Neymar could be a notable absentee from the front line and so too Mbappé. While Kimpembé watched from the stands, the former AS Monaco forward scored France's winning goal against Croatia in Zagreb on Wednesday. That leaves the FIFA World Cup winner little time to recover as the Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions head south aiming for a fifth successive league win.
"We always expect the same thing from ourselves: to win," said Tuchel, who is also without the suspended Layvin Kurzawa and Angel di Maria. "We have always had a lot of ambition but this a special situation because of COVID. At every international window there is a risk of losing players and there'll be another one in a month. If we had our whole squad at 100% then we'd have a very strong team but naturally, like everybody, if we have a lot of absentees then the situation could become more complicated. And that is the case in the next few days."
Though Nîmes have lost their last three home games against PSG, Jérôme Arpinon's men are currently on a three-match unbeaten run, and have won five home games in 2020, a tally bettered only by Friday night's visitors and Montpellier Hérault SC.
The hosts, however, will be without the influential Zinédine Ferhat and suspended captain Anthony Briançon. Ferhat, who has scored three times in six league games this term, is sidelined with an adductor injury, leaving new signing Niclas Eliasson likely to make his Nîmes debut after joining from Bristol City just over a week ago.
Full-back Birger Meling, who has made a major impact since he moved to France from his native Norway in the summer, could also miss out due to a persistent knee problem, and Arpinon is aware the absences in his squad and those in Tuchel's do not have the same impact.
"It's never just another game. We're playing the Champions League runners-up, you have to remember that. Yes, Paris will have players missing, but when Paris have players missing, they're still a great team. When Nîmes have players missing, it's not the same," he explained.
"When you manage to pick up a point or three against PSG, you're making up that point or those points on 18 other teams. If we get a draw, we'll be happy, but we won't say no to winning."
Nîmes: Reynet; Burner, Landre, Miguel, Meling; Ripart (c), Deaux, Fomba; Eliasson, Denkey, M. Koné
PSG: K. Navas; Florenzi, A. Diallo, Kimpembe (c), Bakker; I. Gueye, Paredes; Sarabia, Neymar, Ruiz-Atil; Kean