Paris Saint-Germain will hope to put the opening day defeat behind them as they welcome Olympique de Marseille to Parc des Princes on Monday.
The last month has been nothing short of a rollercoaster for Paris Saint-Germain, who went from scoring two last-minute winners against Atalanta in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League to getting beaten against Bayern Munich in the final and then losing several key players before eventually going down in their opening day fixture against RC Lenz.
In the last eight seasons in Ligue 1, PSG have won seven titles and were awarded the crown last season by default when the season came to a crashing halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The runners up from last season – also by default – Olympique de Marseille have already begun their journey in the 2020/21 recording a 3-2 win against Stade Brestois 29 courtesy of a brace of goals from central defender Duje Caleta-Car and a brace of assists from Florian Thauvin. Their opening day fixture against Saint-Etienne was cancelled pertaining to an outbreak of COVID-19 within the opposition squad.
The last meeting between these two sides came in the French capital as Thomas Tuchel & co. registered a 4-0 win. Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe were on target twice each in the first half itself, while Angel Di Maria recorded two assists the process. The Hard Tackle now takes a deeper dive into this fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Thomas Tuchel has to deal with several absences from the first-team as PSG get ready to host Marseille. This includes one injury (Julian Draxler) and seven players who will be missing after testing positive for the coronavirus – those being Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe, Leandro Paredes, Mauro Icardi, Keylor Navas and Marquinhos.
With so many players out, PSG named a relatively weaker squad against RC Lenz, something the opponent took full advantage of. Tuchel is expected to name the same XI for the game against Marseille, barring the goalkeeper. Sergio Rico is expected to take responsibility of the gloves after being dropped last week for Marcin Bulka.
In defence, we expect Layvin Kurwaza to play out of position as a right-back, while Juan Bernat slots in on the left side. These two will be flanking the centre-half duo of Thilo Kehrer and Presnel Kimpembe.
Idrissa Gueye will be given the responsibility of screening the defence as the holding midfielder in a three-man midfield. This trio will also include Ander Herrera, who will start as a box-to-box midfielder while Marco Veratti will be the deep-lying-playmaker. 17-year-old Xavi Simons was named on the bench last week and could be in line to make his official senior debut on Monday.
Pablo Sarabia was the senior-most squad member in the attack in the previous game, and will retain his spot as the right winger. Academy duo Arnaud Kalimuendo and Kays Ruiz-Atil will also feature as the striker and left winger, respectively.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Rico; Kurwaza, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Bernat; Herrera, Gueye, Veratti; Sarabia, Kalimuendo, Ruiz-Atil
There is a stark contrast between the two teams ahead of the game on Monday as Olympique de Marseille will go in with no vacancies in the first team for Andre Villas-Boas to cater.
Marseille will mirror PSG’s 4-3-3 with one of their own, with Steve Mandanda in goal. Ahead of the Frenchman, Duje Caleta-Car and Alvaro Gonzalez will start in the heart of the Marseille defence, while Hiroki Sakai and Jordan Amavi provide width from the back.
However, Lucas Perrin may get the nod ahead of Gonzalez after the latter’s disappointing outing during the last game. In the centre of the park, Morgan Sanson and Valentin Rongier will be given the duties of arching Boubacar Kamara as he takes up the role of the screening-midfielder.
This trio will have to keep a check on Ander Herrera, who came close to scoring in the previous outing through late runs into the box. Dimitri Payet will start on the left flank in the hopes of continuing as one of the most creative players across the continent.
On the opposite side, Florian Thauvin will start the game as the right winger. The French international was on show during the last game, racking up two assists and a goal. Payet and Thauvin will have Dario Benedetto aiding them through the centre.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mandanda; Sakai, Gonzalez, Ćaleta-Car, Amavi; Rongier, Kamara, Sanson; Thauvin, Benedetto, Payet
- Thomas Tuchel and Andre-Villas Boas have only come face-to-face once before, which is not surprising given both their short-term careers. In that game, Tuchel came on top as the victor.
- Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille have faced each other 35 times in the past. PSG have won 20 of these games, with Marseille winning just eight (D7).
- Marseille have not won against the side from the French capital in the last 16 matches in Ligue 1, out of which just two have been draws (L14).
- The last time Marseille won against PSG was back in November 2011, as they recorded a 2-1 win.
- Marseille have failed to record a clean sheet against PSG in the last seven games. The last time they managed to do so was in October 2016, when the game ended goalless.
Player to Watch
Back in 2018/19, Marseille, while in rebuild, were almost single-handedly led by Florian Thauvin, who recorded 16 goals and 8 assists in 33 appearances for the French outfit. However, just when the 2019/20 season started, the Frenchman was ruled out for several months due to a knee injury and only managed to return in March to play the last game before the season was cancelled.
This season, though, Thauvin has returned with a bang, scoring once and assisting twice as Marseille recorded a 3-2 win over Stade Brestois 29. Not only is he mentally prepared to take on to the pitch again, he has also lost none of his speed, or incredible agility that made him a nuisance in every position he took up, and Monday will be the best time to mark his presence back in France.
PSG 1-3 Marseille
In an ideal scenario for a match at Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain would have had all the share of the odds and predictions as reigning champions and Champions League finalists. It is far from an ideal scenario, though.
After finishing second last term, Marseille have realised that this season is the best shot they have at pursuing the unlikely – the dream of winning the Ligue 1 shield. Moreover, PSG are missing eight crucial players, including their first-choice front three, best defender and starting goalkeeper.
The Hard Tackle expects Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet to go all guns blazing and help Marseille register their first win against the defending champions in over a decade. A 3-1 win for the visitors.