Curtain drops on Ligue 1 round 3 on Sunday night with a derby game at Stade Louis II as Monaco prepare to host French champions Paris Saint-Germain in what is a highly anticipated match between two Ligue 1 heavyweights.
Champions League a major boost for Monaco
It’s been a great start to the new campaign for the Principality club who have managed to secure their place in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League following a huge 3-1 aggregate win over Spanish side Villarreal. Leonardo Jardim’s team is at the new beginning after what has been a largely disappointing campaign last season. Monaco lost to Valencia at the same stage of the Europe’s elite competition last season which resulted in club selling the likes of Anthony Martial, Aymen Abdennour and Layvin Kurzawa and heading into the new season relying mostly on youth products. A change of pace resulted in Monaco ending the year in third place behind PSG and Lyon, but the Champions League participation this year is likely to be a great morale boost for the club. Monaco kicked off the new Ligue 1 season with a 1-0 win at Nantes which means that Jardim’s side now has a 100% record in their first three matches of the new season. Home game versus the league champions will be a test which can be of big impact to both sides early on in the season.
Leonardo Jardim will not be able to count on the Colombian striker Falcao, who picked up an injury in earlier stages of Champions League qualification. In addition, left wing Kylian Mbappe is sufferingfrom a head injury, while goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis is yet to recover from a fractured rib.
PSG in for another title?
Paris Saint-Germain have had a successful domestic campaign in 2015-16 season as the Saints finished with 31 points in front the runners-up Lyon. It was not enough for Laurent Blanc to keep his job though as the French tactician failed to make it past the Champions League quarter-finals. Defeat to Manchester City was deemed a failure which ultimately cost former French defender his job in the Paris-based club. Qatari owners decided to bring Sevilla boss Unai Emery, an internationally experienced manager who lead Rojiblancos to three consecutive Europa League trophies. Much has changes at Paris Saint-Germain since last season as French giants entered the new campaign without the powerful Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who signed for Manchester United after his contract with PSG expired. At the same time, PSG have been highly active in the transfer market having brought no less than five new players. Hatem Ben Arfa, Thomas Meunier, Giovani Lo Celso, Grzegorz Krychowiak and striker Jese are all expected to raise the quality of the team as Emery targets a step forward at the international level. Ligue 1 remains the top priority as well and PSG have started their title defence with a 1-0 win at Bastia and a comprehensive 3-0 home victory over Metz.
Paris Saint-Gemrain will have no selection worries ahead of the trip to Monaco and head coach Unai Emery will be happy to report that only Thiago Silva is unavailable. Brazilian centre back is still struggling with his hip injury he picked up earlier this summer.
Leonardo Jardim’s men have rediscovered their form and are having a highly successful opening of the new season. Securing the Champions League place has been a major morale boost and a timely one ahead of champions’ visit, who will have experience and individual quality speaking in their favour. Both teams have plenty of attacking potential at their disposal and we predict an openly contested clash.
Top pick: Both teams to score – yes 1.8 (4/5) @WilliamHill
Alternative pick 1: PSG 1.8 (4/5) @Bet365
Alternative pick 2: PSG / PSG 2.9 (19/10) @888sport