Paris Saint Germain are all set to begin their title defence of the Ligue 1 with an away clash against Clermont Foot at the Stade Gabriel Montpied on Saturday night. The hosts, meanwhile, are on the other spectrum as they are preparing for a second consecutive year of top-flight football in France after managing to avoid getting relegated last year.
Despite it being the first season in the top flight of French football for a long time Clermont were quite impressive in their maiden campaign in the 2021-22. Manager Pascal Gastien ended up securing another season of Ligue 1 with a 17th placed finish last season and will be hoping to improve on that record in 2022-23.
They recorded an unbelievable start to the season last time around and ended up taking eight points from the first four matches and going unbeaten in the process. That will also be the goal for Gastien heading into the current campaign. Unsurprisingly, however, they failed to keep up this steam and ended up drifting to the lower echelons of the league. Clermont’s ability to shock the top sides in France came as a surprise to many as they ended up posting several memorable wins over Lille, Rennes, Marseille and Nice.
Even in the pre-season friendlies, Montpellier, HSC Rodez and Toulouse ended up losing to Clermont with just highlights their superiority going forward. Les Lanciers also kept clean sheets in all those matches. However, Clermont ended up on the losing side in encounters against Lens and Grenoble Foot.
Pascal Gastien has been intent on shoring up the defence for his side as it was a clear vulnerability they suffered from last season. They conceded at least a goal in each of their last 10 Ligue 1 matches at the Stade Gabriel Montpied in Clermont-Ferrand.
New Paris Saint Germain head coach Christophe Galtier didn’t take too long to make a strong first impression. Winning the Trophee des Champions with a dominant 4-0 performance against Nantes thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos as well as a brace from Neymar, Galtier will hope for his side to make an equally strong start in Ligue 1.
The former Lille and Nice boss’ tactics also seemed to rejuvenate a PSG squad that seemed quite complacent and lacklustre under Mauricio Pochettino last season. Even with Kylian Mbappe’s absence, who was suspended for the clash, the Parisian outfit looked to be in control from minute 1 until the final minute of the match. Jean-Charles Castelletto also got sent off for Nantes in the final 10 minutes of the fixture after he brought Neymar down in the box which ended up putting Nantes out of their misery.
While winning the Trophee des Champions doesn’t represent the strongest challenge for a side of the caliber of the French champions, Paris Saint Germain’s incredible work this summer deserves praise. New sporting director Luis Campos, who was also responsible for assembling the revolutionary squads at Monaco and Lille, has been going around making several astute signings and young acquisitions. Galtier and Campos had won the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title and the expectation surrounding them will be introducing more professionalism into Paris Saint Germain and avoiding collapses in the Champions League.
Defending the Ligue 1 title will also be a pre-requisite for the 55-year-old as he would like to avoid the fate of his predecessor Pochettino who also had a target on his back after failing to win the league title in his first season in charge of PSG. Fans of Paris Saint Germain are also sensing winds of change and will be desperate for success in the UEFA Champions League where recent campaigns have ended in nothing but humiliations. Having retained Kylian Mbappe, and also reinforced several important positions this summer, PSG have the squad to challenge on all fronts.
Paris Saint Germain had put six goals past Clermont at the Stade Gabriel Montpied last season. Even in the home fixture at the Parc des Princes, they thumped Les Lanciers 4-0 and it goes without saying that the hosts’ defensive resilience will be tested thoroughly in the opening Ligue 1 fixture.
CLM vs PSG, Ligue 1 2022/23
Date: 7th August, 2022
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Stade Gabriel Montpied, Clermont-Ferrand
Clermont Foot pre-season form:
Paris Saint Germain form (all competitions):
Clermont Foot wins: 7
Paris Saint Germain wins: 31
Clermont Foot Team News:
At the moment, Clermont are not dealing with any fresh injury concerns and therefore, Gastien is expected to have a fully-fit squad at his disposal. No players are missing through suspension either.
New signing Jeremie Bela might need more time to get up to speed with the dynamics of the group after coming from Birmingham City. Fellow new signings Maxime Gonalons and Komnen Andric will probably start the fixture.
Mohamed Bayo, Salis Abdul Samed, Vital Nsimba, Cedric Hountondji, and Akim Zedadka have all departed Clermont to move on to new pastures this summer. Therefore, a new-look backline will take to the pitch for the hosts against the defending French champions.
Paris Saint Germain Team News:
When it comes to Paris Saint Germain, Christophe Galtier will be more than happy to welcome back Kylian Mbappe into the squad after the star forward served his suspension in the Coupe de France final against Nantes. However, at the moment, PSG fans would have to wait longer as he is on the sidelines after being ruled out with an adductor issue.
Julian Draxler will also be missing the clash with a knee injury but it’s unlikely he would’ve started in the first place given that PSG are actively trying to move him on. Hugo Ekitike has been included in the squad and will be looking to take advantage of Mbappe’s option. Pablo Sarabia, who also started the Trophee des Champions final, also represents a more experienced option for Christophe Galtier.
Galtier has been trying and experimenting with a three-man backline so far at Paris Saint Germain. He has no reason to fix what is not broken. Marco Verratti and new signing Vitinha are favourites to marshal the midfield.
Clermont Foot possible starting lineup:
Djoco; Zeffane, Seidu, Ogier, Borges; Gonalons, Magnin; Dossou, Berthomeir, Rashani; Andric
Paris Saint Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Ramos, Kimpembe, Marquinhos; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Mendes; Messi; Sarabia, Neymar
Clermont Foot are going through a turbulent period in defence with many outgoings and incomings and Paris Saint Germain who not only have the most ruthless attack in the league but arguably in all of Europe will be looking to hit their stride as quickly as possible, starting from the away fixture this weekend.
While the 4-0 victory over Nantes was a dream start to their campaign, Galtier would be unwilling to allow his players to let their foot off the gas. PSG will be the favourites to record yet another five-start performance and a goalfest could be on the cards here at the Stade Gabriel Montpied.