Paris (AFP) – After dazzling on his first appearance in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt, Neymar is in line to make his home debut for his new club against Toulouse on Sunday.
The world’s most expensive player scored one goal and set up another in a starring performance as PSG beat Guingamp 3-0 away in Brittany last weekend to maintain their perfect start to the new French season.
The 222 million-euro ($261 million) signing from Barcelona has already taken to the pitch at PSG’s Parc des Princes for an unveiling before their 2-0 win over Amiens there on the opening day of the campaign.
But he was not registered in time to play in that match so PSG’s home support are eager to watch the 25-year-old run out against Toulouse. In contrast, the opposition coach is rather more apprehensive.
“We are going to Paris to defend first of all, that is for sure. We will park the bus,” said Pascal Dupraz, whose team did beat PSG at home and drew away last season en route to a mid-table finish.
“I believe in the possibility of getting a result in Paris. That is the beauty of football too. If I didn’t believe then I’d be as well to do something else.”
Dupraz, who has this week brought in Ivory Coast winger Max-Alain Gradel on loan from Bournemouth, added: “We will need luck and to have God on our side because clearly this PSG side is incredible.
“But be careful not to call this game Toulouse against Neymar! Paris will win the league, I think, and will once again go far in Europe.”
PSG have been busy trying to reduce their wage bill following the Neymar signing, and have loaned unwanted Spanish forward Jese to Stoke City while agreeing to sell France midfielder Blaise Matuidi to Juventus for 20 million euros.
Meanwhile, they are apparently ready to pay another blockbuster fee of 180 million euros to sign Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe.
The 18-year-old striker, who hails from the Paris suburbs, is keen on the move and while Monaco would prefer him to go to Real Madrid, the French champions have left him out of their squad to face Metz on Friday.
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The decision to drop Mbappe came after he was left on the bench for the duration of last weekend’s 4-1 win at Dijon, in which Radamel Falcao scored a hat-trick.
“The philosophy at AS Monaco is to play those who are at 100 percent and totally available to the squad,” said coach Leonardo Jardim.
Lyon are top of the early standings on goal difference and they will look to make it three wins from three when they host Bordeaux on Saturday.
Also on maximum points are Saint-Etienne, who host Amiens, and Marseille, whose home clash with Angers comes in between the two legs of their Europa League play-off against Domzale of Slovenia.
It has been a difficult start to the season for last season’s third-placed side Nice. They lost their opening two league outings and then went down 2-0 away to Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League play-off on Wednesday.
They need a lift when they entertain Guingamp on Saturday, when star duo Mario Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder could play some part.
“They are coming back, but I don’t know if they will start,” said coach Lucien Favre.
Fixtures (1800 GMT unless stated)
Metz v Monaco (1845)
Lyon v Bordeaux (1500), Montpellier v Strasbourg, Nice v Guingamp, Rennes v Dijon, Saint-Etienne v Amiens, Troyes v Nantes
Lille v Caen (1300), Marseille v Angers (1500), Paris Saint-Germain v Toulouse (1900)
18 August 2017 | 2:30 am