It will be quite a baptism of fire for new Stade de Reims Coach Jean-Luc Vasseur this Friday as he takes charge of his first-ever Ligue 1 game.
He is a former Paris Saint-Germain player and was a youth team coach for 10 years. Now the opening game of the season see's PSG travel to the Champagne region of France as they try to win their third consecutive Ligue 1 title.
Laurent Blanc is still waiting for all of the players that played in the latter stages of the World Cup to return before he can play his full strength side. Against Guingamp in the Trophée de Champions he played Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Hervin Ongenda either side of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Expect Edinson Cavani to play from the start after he was a sub in China for the TDC game.
Cavani’s inclusion gives Blanc two options. Play 4-3-3 with Cavani on the right and Bahebeck on the left, or change to 4-3-1-2 with a playmaker like Javier Pastore in behind Ibrahimovic and Cavani. The Uruguayan striker has been promised a change of system this season.
Without David Luiz and Thiago Silva, PSG will start with Marquinhos and Zoumana Camara in the centre of defence, but have looked shaky against decent opposition in pre-season, and it will worry Blanc. Lavezzi’s absence will give Blanc the chance to move away from last season’s 4-3-3.
Reims are without Anthony Weber, and he is a huge loss in the centre of defence, he was a rock last season in the 33 games he played. Veteran Mohamed Fofana is set to start in his place.
The suspension to Moukandjo is a blow to Vasseur’s style. He played some lovely attacking football with Creteil in both the Championnat National and Ligue 2 last year. With the sale of Floyd Ayite, Moukandjo is set to take his place on the wings, but it will have to wait till next week.
Reims will line up in a 4-4-2/4-1-4-1 formation. Bourllion will sit deep and De Preville will play behind Charbonnier, with the pace of Olivier Fortes and Diego down the flanks.
Right-back Aissa Mandi has a score to settle after he scored two own goals when Reims travelled to the Pars des Princes at the end of last season.
After Reims 33-year absence from Ligue 1, the two teams have me four times over the last two seasons. PSG have won three out of the four matches, the other a 1-0 defeat at the Stade Auguste Delaune in 2013. However, that was with former coach Hubert Fournier in charge and the now Sevilla midfielder Grzegory Krychowiak putting in an inspired performance.
Against the duo of Marquinhos and Camara in defence, Reims have a chance to cause PSG problems. The key will be down the flanks, if Fortes and Mandi can get some joy down the right and trouble the defence with crosses in the box, then Charbonnier and De Preville will get chances to punish the PSG defence.
With Weber out, the Reims defence will be equally as vulnerable to the attack of Ibrahimovic and Cavani. It will be very hard for Reims to keep PSG out. Expect goals and an away win.
Reims: Agassa - Mandi, Tacalfred, Weber, Glombard - Bourllion - Fortes, De Preville, Devaux, Diego - Charbonnier
PSG: Sirigu - van der Wiel, Marquinhos, Camara, Digne - Motta, Verratti, Matuidi - Pastore - Cavani, Ibrahimovic