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What started out as a promising tale between Nice and Christophe Galtier ended in somewhat bitter fashion, as the Frenchman departed the Allianz Riviera after just one season to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain.
Les Aiglons could have ended the 2021-22 season having secured Champions League football and with a Coupe de France trophy in the cabinet, but Galtier’s side ultimately dropped to fifth place – settling for Europa Conference League football in the process – and they lost in the Coupe de France final to Nantes.
Lucien Favre has returned to Nice for a second spell at the club after the club allowed Galtier to head for the Parc des Princes, and the ex-Borussia Dortmund boss saw his side begin pre-season with a 1-1 draw versus Cercle Brugge, as Andy Delort opened the scoring within eight minutes before a Yannis Nahounou own goal.
The Aiglons boss insisted that the draw was “not bad” on the whole, as the 64-year-old got a good look at all of his players ahead of an unforgiving camp in Portugal, which sees Nice take on Benfica a day before the battle with the Cottagers.
Torino and Roma will then pit their wits against Nice before their Ligue 1 campaign begins against Toulouse on August 7 – another newly-promoted side – so doing battle with Fulham is undoubtedly ideal preparation for the continental contenders.
It remains to be seen how Nice will line up for the contest with Fulham, with Favre potentially splitting the group in two given that the tie with Benfica lies 24 hours beforehand.
Les Aiglons lost goalkeeper Walter Benitez to PSV Eindhoven earlier this summer, but they responded by bringing in Marcin Bulka on a permanent transfer from Paris Saint-Germain after the 22-year-old helped Nice knock Les Parisiens out of the Coupe de France on penalties last term.
Thirty-eight-year old Dante could marshal the defence against Fulham, and former loanee Mario Lemina would be a familiar face in the engine room if he is selected for this encounter.
Fulham boss Silva could adopt a similar approach to that of his counterpart, with one half of his side doing battle with Benfica while the other test their mettle against Nice.
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Palhinha ought to make his debut for the Cottagers in his homeland alongside Pereira, and Silva is not reported to be working with any injuries at present, which should see all members of the squad test themselves against high-level opposition.
The Cottagers are pushing to complete deals for Manor Solomon and Bernd Leno before the start of the season, but Marek Rodak remains in possession of the number one jersey for the time being.