Paris Saint-Germain were restored to their familiar position clear at the top of Ligue 1 last weekend as they picked up their fourth win from five games thanks to Neymar’s last-gasp overhead kick against Strasbourg.
Since Thomas Tuchel’s men flexed their muscles on the European scene by overcoming Real Madrid 2-0 with a highly impressive display that might have been matched by a more emphatic scoreline.
After the first week of European football, then, it seems that the equilibrium has been restored in France’s top flight, though with Rennes, Nantes and Marseille all having made unexpectedly quick starts in Le Championnat, PSG will have to remain on their toes ahead of the first ‘English week’ of the season that sees a round of games played in midweek.
Ligue 1 Match of the Weekend: Lyon vs Paris Saint-Germain
There is little doubt where the game of the weekend lies, with Parc OL playing host to Lyon against PSG on Sunday night.
While the Parisians won widespread acclaim for their European performance on Wednesday, little over 24 hours earlier, Lyon had been frustrated to a 1-1 draw against Zenit St Petersburg. OL boss Sylvinho was criticised following the match for his reticence to make proactive changes to his team, which has now failed to win any of its last four matches in all competitions.
At their best, Lyon have shown themselves to be a slick offensive unit this season, but aside from Jeff Reine-Adelaide, they lacked imagination and craft to break down a stubborn Russian defence in midweek. The fans will expect a reaction against PSG.
The Rhone venue has been inhospitable for the Parisians in the recent past. Last season, they suffered a 2-1 loss in Lyon, the third time in four visits they had lost by the same scoreline.
Given the tempo, teamwork and quality they displayed against Madrid on Wednesday, however, they will start as favourites to break that recent trend.
By the time PSG kick-off, they may well have found themselves knocked off top spot. On Friday, Nantes have the opportunity to move to the summit of the table but face a tough match away to Strasbourg, while Saturday’s early kick-off pits Marseille against Montpellier, a team more dangerous than their early league position would suggest.
Rest of the weekend
In the later Saturday games, Monaco’s trip to Reims is perhaps the highlight, with the principality side chasing their first win of the season, while Bordeaux and Nice have the chance to enhance their promising starts to the season with home matches against Brest and Dijon respectively.
Europa League hopefuls Rennes and Saint-Etienne will not play until Sunday, with the Bretons at home against Lille in a mouth-watering clash, while Sainte travel to an Angers side who have won all three of their home games so far this term.
Ligue 1 Player to Watch: Islam Slimani (£0.59)
Although Monaco are struggling with two points from their first five matches of the season, they have scored seven times in their last three matches. Islam Slimani has three of these, and though he was not on the mark against Marseille last weekend, his overall performances since moving to Stade Louis II from Leicester on loan have been very encouraging.
There is a sense that Monaco are on the verge of breaking back into some good form and if they can shore up their defence then they have a strong chance of overcoming Reims on Saturday. At just 59p on the Index, Slimani stands a strong chance of In Play Dividends, particularly with home matches to come against Nice and Brest later in the week.