Preview: Paris Saint-Germain - FC Nantes

As the capital club looks ahead to the visit of Nantes to the Parc des Princes in their Ligue 1 Round 15 clash at 21:00 on Saturday 9 December, we bring you a closer look at the fixture, with memories, standings, dynamics and players to watch.


Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 victory away to Le Havre AC on Sunday was their seventh successive win in Ligue 1 - the best run of any of Europe's top five leagues. Paris now have 33 points from 14 Ligue 1 games, and have consolidated their position at the top of the table ahead of OGC Nice, who are four points behind.

FC Nantes, for their part, have had a mixed season with 18 points from 14 games after a ninth-place finish in Ligue 1 last season. After going through a more difficult phase with just one point from four games, Les Canaris got back on track last week with a prestigious 1-0 win over OGC Nice. It was a far from insignificant victory for the club where Jocelyn Gourvennec recently took over as coach, as the French tactician and his team handed Nice their first defeat of the season.


The two sides last met at the Parc des Princes on 4 March 2023, in Round 26 of the 2022-2023 season. The Parisians got off to a flying start when Léo Messi edged out Nicolas Pallois to volley Nuno Mendes' cross low past Lafont (1-0, 12'). Five minutes later, Mendes was again on the edge of the Nantes area, forcing Alban Lafont into action. The ball then fell to Jaouen Hadjam who, under pressure from Nordi Mukiele at his back, scored an own-goal (2-0, 17'). On the half-hour mark, Les Canaris responded through Ludovic Blas, who burst down the left before surprising the Parisian defence with a cracking shot (2-1, 31').

Just before the break, Florent Mollet found Ignatius Ganago, who lowered his head and deflected the ball with the top of his back: enough to hit the target and slide the ball into the back of the net (2-2, 38'). In a match full of twists and turns, Paris drew on their resources to re-take the lead in the second half. Just before the hour-mark, Kylian Mbappé crossed from the right for Danilo to head past Jean-Charles Castelletto from six yards (3-2, 60'). In added time, Timothée Pembélé collected the ball from Fabien Centonze before crossing for Mbappé. The capital club striker controlled the ball in front of Andrei Girotto and followed up with a powerful left-foot shot (4-2, 90' +2). The goal sealed victory for Paris Saint-Germain, and made Kylian Mbappé the club's all-time top scorer!


Jocelyn Gourvennec and his team can opt for one of two systems: the 4-3-3 used in the win over Nice, or the 5-2-3 used when they opt for a more defensive approach, with Quentin Merlin brought in as a left-sided midfielder. One thing is certain: Alban Lafont will be the man in goal. With a 76.3% save rate since the start of the season, the French 'keeper continues to be one of the league's most reliable performers. In front of him, Jean-Charles Castelletto seems to be untouchable, the Nantes stopper having won the most aerial challenges this season (25, or 64.1% of his aerial challenges).

To accompany the Cameroon international, Eray Cömert is more than well placed. The Swiss international has made a team-high 18 interceptions since the start of the season, and is also the Nantes player to have made the most clearances this season (44). The other option in central defence is Nicolas Pallois, who could bring all his energy and solidity to the Nantes rearguard. On the right flank, promising French youth international Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel is in contention for a starting berth.

And should the Nantes staff opt for a five-man defence, former Guingamp man Marcus Coco, who has a more attacking profile, could be preferred to Pierre-Gabriel in the holding role. At the other end of the spectrum, all eyes are on one man: Quentin Merlin. The promising France U23 international, who is the Nantes defender with the most recoveries this season (73), has completed his recovery phase and could start against the Parisians. But if he has to be replaced again, then Jean-Kévin Duverne would inherit the starting role on the left, with Fabien Centonze, normally an option on either flank, absent through injury.

In midfield, Pedro Chirivella has established himself as an indispensable part of the Nantes team. Les Canaris' captain is the side's most-used player this season, and also has recovered the most balls (80). Alongside him, Moussa Sissoko should figure in the starting XI. The French international should bring all his experience and his sizeable workrate to Nantes' midfield. Finally, Douglas Augusto is also expected to start in midfield. With 18 successful tackles so far this season, the Brazil U23 international is Les Canaris' best performer in this area.

Samuel Moutoussamy and Lamine Diack, though less-likely choices, also remain options to compete with the aforementioned trio. In attack, Florent Mollet (three goals, three assists) has put in a string of convincing performances of late. With Nantes, the former Montpellier man has had the most shots on goal this season (28), and also the most shots on target (12 on target, or 42.9% of his attempts). Particularly comfortable in the role of playmaker, he has recently taken his place on the right wing in the absence of Marquinhos, who should be back against the Parisians.

On the left wing, Moses Simon is indispensable. The Nigerian international (three goals, four assists) has been Nantes' most decisive performer this season. Above all, he has been the driving force behind most of Nantes' attacks, as evidenced by his 45 moves leading directly to shots on goal, making him Nantes' best player in this category. Finally, on the attacking front, Mostafa Mohamed is a clear hands-down starter. FCN's top scorer this season (five goals in 12 games), the Egyptian international has made himself essential, notably through his athleticism - another player for the Parisian defence to keep an eye on this Saturday.


Each will be looking to be the catalyst for their respective side's attacking moves: one on the right flank (for Les Rouge et Bleu), the other on the left flank (for Les Canaris). Saturday's battle between Ousmane Dembélé and Moses Simon promises to be explosive, to say the least. The capital club's winger has been in directly involved in four goals in his last four Ligue 1 matches. With an assist against Montpellier and then Reims, the French international went on to find the net himself against Monaco at the Parc des Princes, before turning provider once again at Le Havre last week. Ousmane Dembélé will no doubt be looking to make it 5 against Nantes.

As for Moses Simon, the Loire-Atlantique club's winger has nothing to envy his Parisian counterpart: very comfortable with the ball, his dribbling skills and impact will be a major asset to Les Canaris' attack. With Achraf Hakimi and Nordi Mukiele likely to be playing on the same flank as him, the Nigerian international will be looking to use his skills to keep the Parisian rearguard off-balance and take advantage of space in quick attacks. An unpredictable player, he is bound to provoke Parisian defenders into duels, and it will be important to limit his impact on Nantes' attacks on Saturday. It promises to be a lively encounter at the legendary Porte d'Auteuil stadium...