Lyon out to stop PSG making it nine in a row
By A. Scott
Paris Saint-Germain are bracing for their toughest test of the domestic season so far as they welcome Olympique Lyonnais to the Parc des Princes in a heavyweight contest on Sunday evening.
Paris Saint-Germain - Olympique Lyonnais
It has been a serene start to the campaign for Thomas Tuchel's PSG, who last week equalled the record for the longest winning run at the beginning of a season when they beat OGC Nice 3-0 at the Allianz Riviera to make it eight victories from eight Ligue 1 Conforama matches.
Paris have matched the record set by Olympique Lillois in 1936, and are now hoping to set a new mark this weekend. They are scoring goals for fun, too, with 27 in their eight matches. In all competitions that tally now stands at 39 goals, after the capital club routed Red Star Belgrade 6-1 in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, with a majestic Neymar Jr. scoring a hat-trick. The Brazilian has 10 goals in total.
However, while PSG are performing well, the 3-2 defeat at Liverpool last month still sticks in the throat, with Thomas Meunier remarking after Wednesday's game: "We need to see what we can do against teams who are equal to us in terms of quality."
Highlights: PSG make it eight on the bounce at Nice
Paris are certainly now about to face a step up in terms of quality, with games against Napoli and Olympique de Marseille to come later this month. But first up are Lyon, a team capable of competing with anybody on their day.
Bruno Genesio's side travel to the Parc des Princes after a spirited fightback from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League in a match played behind closed doors at the Groupama Stadium on Tuesday.
OL are now unbeaten in six games, a run which includes a stunning 2-1 win away to Manchester City last month. But the seven-time champions are already 10 points behind the league leaders and their inconsistency came back to haunt them last weekend when they could only draw 1-1 at home to struggling FC Nantes, with Nabil Fekir missing a late penalty.
"We need to do better and be capable of a more complete performance if we are to get a result on Sunday in Paris," said Lucas Tousart after the Shakhtar game, as Lyon now go looking for a rare victory in this fixture.
They won 2-1 when the sides last clashed back in January at the Groupama Stadium. However, it is a different story in Paris - PSG are undefeated in their last eight home meetings with Lyon since a 3-1 defeat in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France in 2012. To find OL's last league victory in the capital you have to go back to October 2007, when Juninho Pernambucano was the captain and Karim Benzema was in their line-up. Hatem Ben Arfa scored twice in a 3-2 away victory that day 11 years ago.
Lyon have been boosted this week by the news of Tanguy Ndombele's call-up to the France squad for the upcoming friendly against Iceland and UEFA Nations League clash with Germany. Meanwhile, his fellow midfielder Tousart has signed a new contract through to 2023.
"I feel really happy at Lyon. I was happy with what I did on the pitch last season but I still need to progress in certain areas," said the 21-year-old Tousart, whose place in the team has come under threat from Pape Cheikh Diop in recent weeks.
Highlights: Lyon held by Nantes as Fekir misses penalty
The PSG midfield this weekend will be deprived of Adrien Rabiot, who serves a one-game ban, so Marquinhos could start alongside Marco Verratti after the Brazilian was rested against Red Star in midweek.
"Marquinhos has played at a really top level for us but we needed to rest him against Nice and couldn't because Verratti couldn't play," said Tuchel, who recognises the need to have sufficient strength in depth.
"You need a minimum of 14, 15 players of a very high level. Football at the moment is not about only 11 players."
Paris SG: To follow
Lyon: To follow