PSG v Monaco – Parc des Princes at 20:00 live on BT Sport 1
Paris Saint-Germain meet Monaco on Sunday night in a mouthwatering Ligue 1 showdown that could have huge knock-on psychological effects in what’s shaping up to be a fabulous title race in France.
Nice – some say the Leicester of the league – were usurped by Monaco earlier this year but remain in the hunt, level on points with the principality club. PSG are perched just three points behind but victory for the visitors here would send the Monegasques six points clear of the chasing capital club.
Picking up maximum points at the Parc des Princes is no easy feat. PSG have suffered a sole reverse in 49 Ligue 1 matches on home turf – it came back in April 2016 when Monaco bagged a 2-0 triumph – but Les Rouges et Blancs do appear a little underrated in the pre-match markets.
Remarkable goalscoring records
Leonardo Jardim’s charges romped to a 4-1 triumph at Marseille only a fortnight ago and followed that demolition up with a routine 4-0 smashing of Lorient last weekend. That win over Lorient was the ninth time in 21 league matches that Monaco have scored at least four goals, a quite remarkable record.
The Monegasques have notched 64 Ligue 1 goals this campaign – that’s an average of 3.05 per-game and 23 more than PSG’s tally. No side in Europe’s top-five leagues can match such a return and only Real Madrid (16) can boast more different goalscorers than Monaco (14).
The 4-4-2 diamond favoured by Jardim is working a treat too. You’ll struggle to find a more watchable midfield four than Lemar, Silva, Fabinho and Tiemoue Bakayoko across the continent whilst energetic full-backs Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy are providing plenty of pace and ammunition from the flanks.
In attack, a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao is leading the line superbly alongside Valerie Germain and the principality club will offer a serious threat when playing on the counter-attack in Paris. Monaco were superb on the break when bagging a 3-1 success in the reverse and they’ll take courage from Nice’s display here.
Nice pitched up at the Parc des Princes and raced into a two-goal half-time lead before PSG roared back into the encounter to claim a 2-2 draw. A repeat isn’t unthinkable here and whilst Monaco have suffered a couple of hiccups on their travels at Toulouse and Nice, they’re more than capable of causing a stir on Sunday.
Since promotion back to the top-flight, Les Rouges et Blancs have scored in all bar nine of their 67 away league fixtures and I fully expect them to grab a goal. And with that in mind, backing Monaco with a +1 start on the Asian Handicap line at 1.84 just seems too big to ignore.
Of course, Jardim’s charges have had a day less recovery time following League Cup semi-final exertions in midweek. And yes, Monaco weren’t at their fluent best when overcoming Nancy 1-0 but they’d be lying if they said they hadn’t one eye on the weekend’s showpiece contest.
PSG starting to click
In fairness, PSG have finally started to click under Unai Emery’s watch with the aforementioned draw at home to Nice a watershed moment in the ex-Sevilla coach’s career in France. Les Parisians have since won six successive games, scoring 21 goals and conceding just once.
The four-time defending champions have been more clinical in the attacking third, balanced and solid. The addition of Julian Draxler has given the group a bit more flair in the final third and Edinson Cavani has shook off the haters to become one of Europe’s most in-form players.
The Uruguayan’s match-winning free-kick at Nantes last week was Cavani’s 28th goal in 27 appearances and he remains the only player to reach the 20 goal-mark domestically in Europe’s top leagues.
Emery’s struggles against the leading lights
However, there’s still a nagging doubt over PSG’s ability to turn it on against the continent’s best. As well as Nice, Marseille and St Etienne have departed the capital without defeat whilst Emery’s men have twice failed to overcome Arsenal and were beaten in Monaco.
This has all the hallmarks of a classic encounter and Monaco can cement themselves in the Ligue 1 title race with a positive result on Sunday. I can’t see PSG running away the match and that should ensure we’re at the very least in the running for a push. The value is with the visitors.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Monaco +1 at 1.84
Prices correct at time of writing.
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