PSG set sights on record-breaking start
By A. Scott
Paris Saint-Germain can make this their best ever start to a season if they beat Stade de Reims at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday to extend their perfect Ligue 1 Conforama record into a seventh match.
Paris Saint-Germain - Stade de Reims
The reigning champions made it six wins from six league games when they came from behind to beat Stade Rennais FC 3-1 in Brittany on Sunday afternoon, with Ángel di María, the excellent Thomas Meunier and recent signing Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting all on target after Adrien Rabiot's early own goal.
With a maximum 18 points to their name, PSG ended the weekend five points clear of LOSC in second and they are already looking good to claim a sixth league title in seven seasons. Performances under new coach Thomas Tuchel are not yet quite up to the high standards being set by the German, and they lost 3-2 to Liverpool in their opening UEFA Champions League group outing last midweek. However, the capital club have already equalled their best ever start to a top-flight campaign, when they won their opening six games last season under Unai Emery.
Watch: PSG come from behind to win at Rennes
Twelve months ago they finally dropped points in their seventh match, drawing 0-0 away to Montpellier Hérault SC. Now they will be confident of making it seven in a row as they face newly-promoted Reims in the final game of the midweek round.
You have to go all the way back to AS Monaco in 1960 to find the last time a team won their opening seven games of the season, something Lille also achieved in 1949. OGC Nice in 1955 and Olympique de Marseille in 2012 also won their opening six games before seeing their perfect records come to an end, just like Paris a year ago.
Eight the record
If Tuchel's men beat Reims at the fortress that is the Parc des Princes, they will have a chance to match the best-ever start to a campaign - eight wins from eight by Olympique Lillois in 1936 - when they visit Nice this weekend. And yet, ominously, Paris are not even playing to their full potential yet.
"We underwent a great period of preparation in August, and in July as well for those who were there. I think that, at that time, the coach's idea was to get to the start of October with a squad in which everyone was fully fit and on form, and in which he could choose who was going to play with his eyes closed, because he knows that everyone is physically ready," said Meunier after Sunday's game.
"At the moment the players are putting in more and more effort and making more and more high intensity runs. That is the most important thing. For me, we are almost fully up and running physically."
Mbappé completes ban
Paris have scored 20 Ligue 1 Conforama goals already this season, netting a minimum of three per game, and the absence of Kylian Mbappé is not proving to be a handicap. The France World Cup star completes a three-game domestic suspension against Reims, but Tuchel has enviable strength in depth in attack - Choupo-Moting joined in at the weekend by scoring just five minutes after coming on for his league debut. Only Jay-Jay Okocha and Christophe Landrin have been quicker in getting their first league goals for the club.
Tuchel has already said that Gianluigi Buffon will again start in goal against the men from Champagne country, but the coach could be tempted to rotate elsewhere with the trip to Nice to come, followed by a home Champions League clash with Red Star Belgrade next week.
Watch: Reims grind out draw against Dijon
Reims travel to the capital on the back of a flat 0-0 draw at home against Dijon FCO on Saturday. That was their second consecutive goalless stalemate, and indeed they have now failed to find the net in any of their last three outings. Last season's Domino's Ligue 2 champions have not won since starting the campaign with victories against Nice and Olympique Lyonnais.
"We know that we have a lot of work to do and we need to progress, which is normal. But to put in such a performance against the team who had the fifth-best attack in Ligue 1 last season augurs well," said coach David Guion of the weekend draw, although his side have the worst attack in the division right now.
Moussa Doumbia is set to miss the game, with the Malian struggling due to an adductor injury suffered at the weekend. Björn Engels - a former teammate of Meunier's at Club Brugge - is expected to play despite being left with a black eye after a clash of heads against Dijon.
Paris SG: Buffon – Kehrer, Thiago Silva (cap.), Kimpembe, Nsoki – Verratti, Rabiot – Draxler, Neymar, Di Maria – Cavani
Reims: Mendy – Métanire, Engels, Abdelhamid, Konan – Chavalerin, Romao (cap.), Ndom – Oudin, Chavarria, Ojo