Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nice-Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Hosts hoping for underdog heroics against Ligue 1 leaders

PSG's Zlatan Ibrahimovic competes for the ball with Nice's Gregoire Puel

Nice goalkeeper David Ospina is hoping to replicate last season's heroics and earn a shock win over Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.

Claude Puel's side won 2-1 in the corresponding fixture in 2012-13 at the Stade du Ray in December 2012 thanks to a late winner from Valentin Eysseric, one of only five Ligue 1 defeats that PSG suffered en route to being crowned champions.

That victory was a standout moment in what was an excellent campaign for Nice, who finished fourth, qualifying for the Europa League.

However, Nice's chances of overcoming the runaway leaders at their new Allianz Riviera home appear slim following a change in fortunes.

Nice are unbeaten in the previous three league games, but still sit a disappointing 11th - 35 points behind PSG.

Laurent Blanc's men lead second-placed Monaco by 10 points following last week's 1-0 success at Lorient and should be confident of completing a league double over Nice after cruising to a 3-1 win in the reverse fixture in November.

PSG, unbeaten in Ligue 1 since the start of December, host Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals five days after the clash with Nice as they face the biggest test so far in their quest to win four trophies in 2013-14.

The Parc des Princes outfit clinched the Trophee des Champions back in August and could yet add further silverware to the expected second straight league title when PSG meet Olympique Lyonnais in the Coupe de la Ligue final next month.

Nice are likely to face a near full-strength PSG squad, with Gregory van der Wiel the only doubt after missing the last three games because of a knee injury.

Captain Thiago Silva suffered a fractured cheekbone at Lorient, but is fit to play after being fitted with a protective facial mask.

However, with the visit of Premier League leaders Chelsea around the corner, Blanc could well rest a number of his stars for the trip to the Nice.

The hosts will again be without defender Nemanja Pejcinovic (hernia), while midfielder Fabrice Abriel (ankle) and Xavier Pentecote (back) are both still on the sidelines.

Nice-Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Hosts hoping for underdog heroics against Ligue 1 leaders Rating: 4.5 Posted by: Unknown


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