PARIS (AFP) – After the French league’s sputtering return with three top-flight matches postponed due to COVID-19, clubs approach this weekend again depleted by illness as well as absences at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) host mid-table Brest today attempting to halt a recent slide in league form.
Since the start of December, the Parisians have won one and drawn five in the league.
Lionel Messi missed last weekend’s draw with Lyon with coronavirus and the club have postponed a winter training camp, due to start on Sunday in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, “in view of the health situation inFrance”.
PSG still lead the league by 11 points and for second-placed Nice, automatic qualification for the Champions League remains a more realistic target.
They edge Marseille, who have a game in hand, on goal difference and open the weekend’s action at home to Nantes.
Nice won 3-0 at Brest last weekend despite missing three players who had tested positive for Covid-19 and playing 70 minutes with 10 men after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off.
Schneiderlin will be suspended and Mario Lemina and Youcef Atal are playing in Cameroon but Nice could recall their Covid cases.
“Will we be able to count on them, I do not know”, said coach Christophe Galtier yesterday, echoing the uncertainty of many Ligue 1 coaches, nervously awaiting test results before naming their squads.
Nantes are ninth, just two points behind fourth-place Rennes.