The dynamics of the three-horse Ligue 1 title race is set to change after this weekend’s round of games. After last weekend’s 1-1 draw between Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, another top of the table fixture awaits us this Saturday.
As table-toppers Monaco entertain second-placed Nice, PSG have a chance to plug the three-point gap between themselves and the top two. Both Monaco and Nice are level on points, separated only by goal difference.
Paris travel to Burgundy to take on newly-promoted Dijon, who haven’t beaten PSG in Ligue 1 in their short history. An upset is highly unlikely with the top UK bookmakers backing a PSG win.
Unai Emery’s team have flattered to deceive this season and find themselves languishing well below their expected position in the table. At this stage last season, Les Parisiens were first and 21 points ahead of Monaco. Their tally of 46 points after 22 games this season pales in comparison to last season’s record haul of 60 points at the same juncture.
PSG saw criticism directed their way after they struggled to dominate Monaco at home last weekend, as Marco Verratti’s absence was keenly felt. They had the chance to close the gap on Monaco which they squandered, but this weekend brings another opportunity for PSG to inch closer to the top of the table.
Lucien Favre’s Nice travel to the French Principality to take on league leaders Monaco. Nice, who have had a fine season under Favre so far, have lost only once in the league, and in the reverse fixture, they humbled Leonardo Jardim’s Les Monégasques 4-0 at the Allianz Riviera. That remains the only league game in which Monaco have failed to score this season which speaks volumes of Favre’s impact in his first season in the French Riviera.
However, that 4-0 result from September 2016 doesn’t at all reflect the 2016/17 season Monaco are having. The Ligue 1 leaders have scored goals at an astonishing rate of three per game, which makes them the most prolific team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2016/17.
As is often the case with top-of-the-table fixtures, it is difficult to tell who among Monaco and Nice will come out on top since both have almost identical records this season. The result that favours PSG is a draw, provided Emery’s side beat Dijon hours later.
Paris are still clear favourites to win their fifth straight Ligue 1 title despite sitting third, and the result of the Monaco-Nice game could have a huge bearing on their title prospects. Until now, PSG’s 2016/17 campaign has been dotted with inconsistency.
However, any result in the Monaco-Nice game gives the Parisians a chance to close in on first place, which, considering their resources and title-winning pedigree, should still be PSG’s come the season’s end.
The competition for the Ligue 1 title has been restored this season, but PSG, with the help of the fixture computer, have once again emerged as the favourites to kill it.