Neymar, Messi, and Mbappe must improve their post-World Cup form if PSG are to keep their Ligue 1 lead
Paris Saint-Germain started the 2022/23 season on fire and their front three looked like they had finally clicked into a fearsome attacking trio they were capable of.
By game week five of the current Ligue 1 season Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe had combined for 16 goals and 10 assists, despite Mbappe missing the opening game week.
They were looking unstoppable and even hammered this weekend’s opponents, Lille, 7-1 in one of their incredibly dominant performances.
By the time the World Cup break came around, they had combined for 30 goals and 20 assists, as PSG entered the break unbeaten and dropped points in only two of 15 matches.
Post-World Cup dip
Whatever happened at the World Cup changed everything for PSG and their front three returned completely changed from the first part of the season.
They lost their first Ligue 1 match only two matches into the resumption, this was after only winning the first match after resumption thanks to a 96th-minute penalty.
Since then, they have lost two more games in the league, have been knocked out of the Coupe de France, and are on the brink of UEFA Champions League elimination.
In the time since the World Cup ended, PSG’s front three of Neymar, Messi, and Mbappe have only contributed directly to six goals (five goals and one assist) in eight Ligue 1 matches.
Worse still, PSG have lost each of them to injury or other forced absences at one point or another, meaning that they have not been able to build a real synergy or bring the best out in each other.
The struggles mean that PSG are on the brink of the unimaginable. With a poor result against Lille this week, they could risk losing their place at the top of the table when they play Marseille next week.
Given the form they were in for the first 15 matches of the season, a collapse of that proportion would be as big a bottle job as losing a 4-0 first-leg advantage in a UCL round of 16 tie.
The terrific trio is finally back together
There is some hope for PSG, however, as they will have all three of Neymar, Messi and Mbappe fully fit for the first time in six matches.
They will need them to be on song as Lille are very different from the team that they beat 7-1 in game week three, as they have only lost once in their last 10 Ligue 1 games.
They have even seen Jonathan David leapfrog all of PSG’s top scorers in Ligue 1 and would be in no mood to be intimidated by their illustrious hosts as they try to move into the major European places after getting their season back on track.
Lyon travel to Auxerre on Friday in Ligue 1
Lyon in 9th will play against Auxerre hoping to better their fortunes in the league. They have severely underperformed in Ligue 1 but seem to be getting back on track. They will however have to do it without top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, who has been ruled out for two weeks.
Auxerre are deep in relegation waters with only 15 points from 23 matches so they might be the perfect team to play without Lacazette.
Nice vs Reims headlines Saturday in Ligue 1
Nice and Reims go head-to-head on Saturday in Ligue 1, with both teams aiming to cross into the European qualification places.
Nice, in sixth place, are closer to the goal and have won four matches in a row, but Reims have Ligue 1’s top goal scorer, Folarin Balogun, on their books and will be looking to score an upset.
Saturday’s other game features a relegation scrap between 17th-place Strasbourg and bottom-of-the-table Angers, who snapped their losing streak with two draws in their last two matches.
Sunday in Ligue 1
Sunday has the most fixtures in Ligue 1 game week 24, with seven matches set to entice viewers.
While PSG’s clash with Lille will undoubtedly be the top fixture, Toulouse hosting Marseille should also serve up some action that will keep you glued to your seat.
Last week, Alexis Sanchez put on a vintage performance, and he could continue from where he stopped to help keep up Marseille’s title charge.
The most valuable player from our Game Week 23 Team of the Week, Wissam Ben Yedder, will also be back in action with Monaco as they travel to Brest hoping to continue their incredible form.
Troyes host Montpellier as both teams aim to continue avoiding a direct relegation fight, while Nantes, who are fresh from a hard-fought draw with Juventus in the UEL, hope to put a further dent in any hopes that Lens still have of vying for the Ligue 1 title.
Rennes also played in the UEL but lost their game to Shakhtar Donetsk and will be looking to bounce back when they play against Clermont.
Finally, Lorient, looking to improve on their recent poor form, will host 18th-place Ajaccio, who currently seem like the perfect team to play when in need of points.
Expert predictions for Ligue 1 game week 23
In-house betting expert Stephen Oladeinde gives the best predictions from each game in Ligue 1 round 24 with odds from Bet9ja.
Auxerre vs Olympique Lyon: Lyon to win @ 1.80 odds
Nice vs Stade Reims: Nice win or draw @ 1.26 odds
Paris Saint-Germain vs Lille: goal-goal @ 1.62 odds
Lorient vs Ajaccio: Lorient to win @ 2.08 odds
Stade Brest vs Monaco: Monaco to win @ 1.78 odds
Troyes vs Montpellier: under 3.5 goals @ 1.33 odds
Stade Rennes vs Clermont Foot: Stade Rennes to win @ 1.58 odds
Lens vs Nantes: over 1.5 goals @ 1.27 odds
Toulouse vs Olympique Marseille: goal-goal @ 1.56 odds
Racing Strasbourg vs Angers: under 3.5 goals @ 1.26 odds
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