The Ligue 1 schedule this weekend matches a former juggernaut against one in the making. When PSG travels to Stade de Reims on Saturday, it will be about two teams heading in different directions.
PSG head into the match with a three-point lead over Lyon at the top of Ligue 1.
Having just bagged two victories against rival Marseille—on Sunday in league action, and Wednesday in cup competition—Carlo Ancelotti will be looking to rest some key players for the midweek Champions League clash with Valencia.
Despite the expectation to rest some key men, Ancelotti will probably send out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti, as both are suspended for the midweek tie.
It is vital for PSG to get the full three points from the Reims game to keep pressure on Lyon, which plays Sunday. PSG should be able to control this match, even if they're resting some starters.
In the attack, Ibrahimovic and company should be too much for the Reims backline to contend with. On the defensive side, PSG have to be aware of Gaetan Courtet. He is Reims' most able attacker and has a knack for finishing his opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest key for PSG will be to not get caught looking ahead.
The all important clash coming up with Valencia is sure to have their attention. The players Ancelotti selects must have their head in the match from the start.
The longer Reims stays in contact with PSG, the more dangerous they will become.
On the Reims side of things, a tie would be viewed as a victory.
Sitting barely above the drop zone, any points they earn are vital. Expect Reims to try and flood the midfield defensively to cut off PSG’s service to the attacking third. Reims will look to try and hit PSG on the counter. If the counter is not there, Reims will slowly build up to the attack, so as to not leave space between the defense and midfield for PSG to expose.
Defensively, Reims will have to be careful not to focus too much on Ibra.
Over committing defensively to Ibrahimovic will leave too much space for the width of PSG’s attack to wreak havoc. This will be especially true if Lucas Moura, Jeremy Menez or both are in the lineup.
Another key for Reims will to not get caught up in the atmosphere.
The Beckham traveling road show will take the environment up a notch. Reims have got to keep their focus on the pitch as their task is difficult enough.
Expect Reims to put up a good fight, but in the end, PSG should comfortably take the three points. In the scheme of things, this match should not hurt Reims in their bid to stay in Ligue 1. The teams that are currently below them all have a date left with PSG.