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Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Clermont - prediction, team news, lineups
10/09/2021 15:48:47

Aiming to continue their perfect start to the 2021-22 Ligue 1 season, Paris Saint-Germain welcome fellow high-flyers Clermont to the Parc des Princes on Saturday afternoon (4:00PM, 11 Sept).

Mauricio Pochettino's side eased past Reims 2-0 two weeks ago on a day where Lionel Messi made his first appearance in blue, while the visitors' impressive start continued with a 2-2 draw against Metz.

Match preview

Kylian Mbappe's brace may have settled the contest in PSG's favour on the day, but the introduction of a certain Argentine stole all the headlines at the Stade Auguste-Delaune on August 29, with Lionel Messi playing the final 25 minutes of Les Parisiens' routine victory in gameweek four.

PSG were already 2-0 up by that point after Mbappe followed up his 16th-minute header with a tap-in in the 63rd minute, but there was clearly no bad blood between PSG's attackers and Predrag Rajkovic, with the Reims goalkeeper bringing his son onto the field in order to take a picture with Messi at full time.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winners aside, PSG - as expected - have simply stormed to the top of the rankings while their title rivals falter, with Pochettino overseeing four wins from four with 12 goals scored at this embryonic stage of the season.

However, PSG's quest for a long-awaited Champions League crown will soon begin as they take on Club Brugge in their first group-stage clash on Wednesday night, but it is now 10 wins from their last 11 Ligue 1 encounters for Les Parisiens.

Four of those triumphs have come on home soil - where Pochettino's side have struck 13 goals in their last four in the league - but their newly-promoted visitors are proving quite the force to be reckoned with since their first-ever promotion to the big time.

It was a tale of two own goals in Clermont's gameweek four battle with Metz, as Ibrahima Niane managed to net at the correct end of the pitch from the penalty spot before the visitors doubled their lead thanks to a comical error from goalkeeper Arthur Desmas.

However, Metz defender Sikou Niakate would soon feel the embarrassment of turning the ball into his own net just before the break, and 13 minutes into the second half, the ball would fall kindly for Elbasan Rashani, who prodded home to rescue a point and keep his side's unbeaten run going.

Keeping the momentum going from his heroic two-goal showing against Lyon, Kosovo international Rashani is relishing life at the top level, as are Clermont, who remain unbeaten with eight points to show from their opening four games.

Pascal Gastien's side remain in the top three of the rankings owing to their strong start to the season, and Clermont prevailed in their only previous meeting with PSG, coming up trumps on penalties in the 1996-97 Coupe de France round of 16.

Team News

PSG did not come out of the international break unscathed, as Kylian Mbappe was forced to withdraw from the France squad with a calf problem while Messi, Neymar, Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria will be late returns from international duty in South America.

Colin Dagba, Sergio Ramos, Juan Bernat and Layvin Kurzawa are all making progress in their returns from injury but are unlikely to be involved just yet, and Marco Verratti is also doubtful with a knock to the knee.

With Mauro Icardi also struggling with a shoulder sprain, Pochettino may be forced to field a youthful attack, and there are reports of B team striker Alexandre Fressange potentially being handed an opportunity up top.

Meanwhile, Clermont have no such concerns on the injury or fatigue front, with wide men Rashani and Jodel Dossou aiming to start following international exploits with Kosovo and Benin respectively.

Former Marseille man Saif-Eddine Khaoui is an option for change in the number 10 role, and Gastien should resist the temptation to switch to a back five given PSG's bountiful selection concerns.

Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:

Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kehrer, Mendes; Gueye, Wijnaldum, Herrera; Gharbi, Fressange, Draxler

Clermont possible starting lineup:

Desmas; Zedadka, Ogier, Hountondji, N'Simba; Gastien, Iglesias; Dossou, Berthomier, Rashani; Bayo

We say: Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Clermont

PSG's attack will be a far cry from the star-studded strikeforce we will soon be accustomed to seeing at the Parc des Princes, but Pochettino should still rely on some world-beaters in midfield and defence this weekend.

Clermont's remarkable start to the season must be applauded, but we expect the newly-promoted outfit to suffer their first defeat in Ligue 1 during what may be a closer affair than it would initially look on paper.

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