Messi and PSG take on Nice, but Neymar misses out | OneFootball

Messi and PSG take on Nice, but Neymar misses out

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Ligue 1 Uber Eats Official

Fresh from winning his seventh Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain take on OGC Nice in the big midweek game at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday, but Neymar Jr. will be absent following his latest injury blow.

Paris Saint-Germain - OGC Nice Wednesday at 21:00 CET (2000 GMT)

If there was any doubt that Messi remains the greatest footballer on the planet, on Monday the little Argentinian won the Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time, pipping Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to claim the prestigious award in a ceremony in Paris, the city he now calls home.

Having joined PSG in August, Messi is the first French-based winner of the Ballon d’Or since Jean-Pierre Papin of Olympique de Marseille in 1991 but he is still yet to produce his very best form on a consistent basis in Ligue 1. The 34-year-old has so far played just seven times, and scored just one goal, in domestic competition for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

It has been a slow start for him at the Parc des Princes, but there have been some very encouraging signs in the last couple of weeks. His first Ligue 1 Uber Eats goal came in the 3-1 win over FC Nantes in Round 14, and on Sunday he provided three assists in the victory by the same scoreline away at AS Saint-Etienne.

PSG had to come from behind to win that game at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard after Denis Bouanga put the home side ahead, with the sending-off of Timothée Kolodziejczak leaving Pochettino’s team with an extra man, an advantage they exploited as Messi set up two goals for Marquinhos either side of one for Ángel Di María.

Highlights: Messi's hat-trick of assists against Saint-Etienne

That result, coupled with a shock 1-0 defeat for Nice against FC Metz, allowed Paris to move an enormous 12 points clear at the top of the table already from Stade Rennais FC heading into December and this midweek round of matches. Even at this relatively early stage the race for the title looks to be over.

Ramos to be rested?

However, all is not rosy in the PSG garden, with news emerging on Monday that Neymar is likely to be out for between six and eight weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage in Saint-Etienne. That means he is unlikely to feature again before mid-January. It is just the latest setback for a player whose season has just never really got going - the world’s most expensive player has found the net just three times in 14 matches, twice against Girondins de Bordeaux and once from the penalty spot against Olympique Lyonnais.

PSG also confirmed on Monday that Georginio Wijnaldum and Ander Herrera remain on the sidelines, while Marco Verratti and Mauro Icardi have only just returned to training. Meanwhile Julian Draxler is not expected to return to training for between two and three weeks. At least Sergio Ramos was finally able to make his debut for the club at the weekend.

“I am back, more eager and stronger than ever,” Ramos tweeted. “Let’s keep giving everything with every ball, every jump and every challenge. This is just the beginning!” Whether he will be able to play a second game in such quick succession remains to be seen, but he will certainly be needed in the days ahead with Paris also facing RC Lens away on Saturday and then Club Brugge at home in the UEFA Champions League next midweek.

Nice look to Man City for inspiration

Nice arrive in the capital with a point to prove after a desperately poor showing by Christophe Galtier’s team on Saturday against a struggling Metz outfit. It was a second consecutive home loss for a club with big ambitions this season and who held on to third spot in the table coming into the midweek games despite that setback.

Galtier, who led LOSC Lille to the title last season at PSG’s expense, was reportedly furious with his side on Saturday and could give a chance to some fringe men here, including Morgan Schneiderlin. The French international midfielder has made just four appearances this season, all off the bench, but could benefit here from the fact that Pablo Rosario is suspended.

Watch: Nice stunned by Metz

Robson Bambu is out after undergoing an ankle operation but gifted Algerian international full-back Youcef Atal will be in the squad having missed the last two matches due to injury, Galtier confirmed. The Nice coach also said he would try to inspire his players by showing them footage of Manchester City beating PSG in the Champions League last week.

“You attack well when you defend well. If you defend badly, you win the ball back very deep and a long way from goal. Your attacking players are too far from the opposition goal and too far from each other to be able to combine,” he said. “I saw images of Manchester City that I will show to my players. They are an extraordinary team and before anything else they defended very well against Paris. You have to defend well in top-level football. Then when you have attacking quality - and I think we do - it can be more easily expressed.”

Probable teams

Paris SG: To follow

Nice: To follow

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