French champions Paris Saint-Germain and dynamic midfielder Blaise Matuidi will aim to extend their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season on Friday night at home to a depleted Bordeaux.
Laurent Blanc’s men have collected maximum points through their first four matches with France international Matuidi playing an integral role in their early success.
The 28-year-old has had a hand in four of the club’s seven goals so far, notably netting the opener in a 2-0 victory over Gazelec Ajaccio before his second-half strike earned PSG all three points in a 1-0 win at Montpellier a week later.
Matuidi’s exploits haven’t been limited to Ligue 1 either with the Frenchman in sparkling form on the international stage as well.
His brace against Serbia on Monday, the second goal a stunning long-range volley, steered the Euro 2016 hosts to a 2-1 win in Bordeaux and prompted fellow Les Bleus midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to label him as PSG’s key man.
“He is such a good player. He is maybe not the grandest name in the PSG team but, in my view, he is the most important player in that team,” said Schneiderlin, in quotes published by French sports daily L’Equipe.
“He is now scoring goals, which completes his game,” added the Manchester United midfielder.
Angel di Maria stayed in Paris over the international break after being left out of Argentina’s squad to allow him to work on his fitness and could also make his first start for PSG against a Bordeaux side still missing the likes of Cheick Diabate and Lamine Sane as well as the suspended Clement Chantome.
– Cruel blow –
While PSG have a refreshed Di Maria to look forward to, Lyon were dealt a cruel blow with Nabil Fekir, the league’s leading scorer this term, set for around six months on the sidelines after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in last Friday’s 1-0 friendly victory over Portugal in Lisbon.
Fekir’s hat-trick again Caen last time out left Lyon, who went toe-to-toe with PSG until the final month in last year’s title race, on seven points through four matches but his injury deprives coach Hubert Fournier of a key man going into Saturday’s meeting with Lille.
Rules in France’s top flight enable a club to sign a player outside the transfer window in the case of such an injury but Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has ruled out drafting in a replacement.
“We said to ourselves that to sign a new player when Nabil is going to have an operation would not be the best thing,” said Aulas in an interview on the club’s website.
“After discussions .. we’re all in agreement that we have great confidence in the group. We have Alex (Lacazette) and Claudio (Beauvue). There is also Maxwell (Cornet) who has impressed everyone and Aldo (Kalulu),” he added.
The honeymoon period for Marseille and new coach Michel was abruptly ended by defeat at previously pointless Guingamp in their last outing with Bastia next up for OM on Sunday.
Monaco will begin the post-Anthony Martial era against Gazelec Ajaccio in Corsica while second-placed Reims visit Toulouse as Rennes, also on nine points, head to Nantes.
Angers, just one of two remaining unbeaten outfits and the only one of the three promoted sides with a victory this season, travel to winless Lorient.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1800 GMT unless stated)
Paris Saint-Germain v Bordeaux (1830 GMT)
Lyon v Lille (1500 GMT), Troyes v Caen, Montpellier v Saint-Etienne, Nice v Guingamp, Lorient v Angers, Toulouse v Reims
Gazelac Ajaccio v Monaco (1200 GMT), Nantes v Rennes (1500 GMT), Marseille v Bastia (1900 GMT)
– Agence France-Presse