Lionel Messi's possible debut and Neymar's return is great for PSG's attack, but could be a disaster for the defense
Reims set to be center of sports world
For some reason, there is a huge demand for match tickets and media accreditation for Reims vs. PSG on Sunday. Even the Washington Post want to drop by, a paper not known for its interest in early season Ligue 1 fixtures.
In fact, the poor club president of Reims, Jean-Pierre Caillot, was briefly hospitalized this week after fainting. He cited over-working as a possible reason for his sudden ailment but feels much better now.
This might be because Lionel Messi is set to make his PSG debut. Just putting it out there. We won't know for certain until a) Mauricio Pochettino tells us or b) he's physically out on the pitch. The game might even be a season debut for Neymar as well. And as for Kylian Mbappe? We'll just have to see.
The introduction of Messi and Neymar will undoubtedly be taxing on Reims' defense, but it is also going to be a strain on PSG's own back-line too. Neither player is known for tackling back and the PSG's rearguard has already shipped five in three games against Troyes, Strasbourg, and Brest. Reims are a better side than all three.
Expect the historic, the expected, and the very unexpected on Sunday.
Reims vs. PSG - live on beIN SPORTS on Sunday from 2PM ET / 11AM PT.
Naughty and Nice
We showed them face-to-face last weekend. You probably noticed that this did not end well for either team. Until a later date, the final result of that match is up in the air after the game was abandoned. As it stands, going into the weekend, both teams have only played two matches this season, which means that the two best title-contenders against PSG are playing catch-up already.
One early punishment handed out to Nice sees the club playing behind closed doors against Bordeaux on Saturday. The same supporters that had only just returned to the Allianz Riviera after 18-months away might eventually cost their team a derby win against Marseille and will be back watching Nice from their sofas again.
The challenge for Nice coach, Christophe Galtier, is to refocus his squad and continue a bright start to the season that was the brink of picking up seven points from nine without a goal being conceded.
Bordeaux, on the other hand, could be the team to take advantage of a distracted Nice that might be missing Kasper Dolberg through injury. The side lead by former Swiss national team coach, Vladimir Petkovic, has course-corrected after a horrendous opening day defeat to Clermont Foot with draws against Marseille and Angers.
Nice vs. Bordeaux: live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday from 10:50AM ET / 7:50AM PT.
Sampaoli takes a chill pill
Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli is in the same boat as Christophe Galtier, except the challenge is to get a grip on himself after getting 100% involved in the Club Med melee, an action that sees his physical trainer, Pablo Hernandez, suspended indefinitely for punching a Nice supporter.
"Many children watch football, and I don’t want them to be seeing such a spectacle," said a somber Sampaoli after a few days of cooling down, "football is a game which brings out a lot of passion but it shouldn’t go too far. I would like to apologize to those children."
Marseille remain enormously fun to watch and are facing a giant of the French game on Saturday with Saint Etienne coming to the Velodrome. Les Verts have had a sluggish start to the season with three draws but keep a look out for goalkeeper, Etienne Green. Not only because of his remarkable name, considering who he plays for, but the fact that he is turning into a tremendous keeper.
"My name is… well, not weird… It suits the club very well, so yeah," said Etienne Green when asked for the 100th time on his name. For the record, the keeper for Les Verts gets his surname from an English father and his first name has origins in his mother coming from Saint Etienne.
Marseille vs. St. Etienne: live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday from 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT.
Lyon add more fuel to the fire with Shaqiri
There was a Homer Simpson-style collective "Doh!" from Lyon fans last weekend as they watched their team blow a 3-1 lead in the final minutes against newly-promoted Clermont Foot to draw 3-3. It was a bit of a shame from Lyon's perspective, as the team was starting to click under Peter Bosz with a lovely team goal put away by Lucas Paqueta.
Lyon have added former Liverpool Xherdan Shaqiri to the roster - another attacking player with a fiery character to deal with - but that's not really what Lyon's doctor ordered. Instead, it's a bit of defensive solidity. Lyon have conceded seven to produce the worst start to the season after three games since 1992/93.
Nantes vs. Lyon: live on beIN SPORTS on Friday from 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT.