RB Leipzig are looking to bounce back to form when they face Paris Saint-Germain in a must-win Champions League game on Wednesday.
Manchester United turned a lot of heads last week with a marvellous 5-0 win over RB Leipzig last week. They had also secured a win over Paris Saint-Germain in the opening fixture, effectively earning themselves an early headstart while leaving the two remaining giants in a spot of bother as they look to tussle for the second spot in the group.
So, it could turn out to be a must-win encounter when these two teams lock horns against each other, at the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday. The home side, in particular, has endured a rough patch, of late, having failed to win any of their last two matches.
Their 5-0 mauling at the hands of Man United was followed by a narrow defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach on the weekend – a loss that allowed Bayern Munich to overtake them in the Bundesliga table. So head coach Julian Nagelsmann will be desperate to seal all three points this midweek as he looks to remain alive in the competition.
PSG, meanwhile, are facing a similar situation as far as the Champions League is concerned, having secured just three points in the opening two fixtures. But unlike their German opponents, they are in a good run of form at the moment.
Despite starting their Ligue 1 campaign with two back to back losses, the French champions have secured seven consecutive victories in the league and have been on a free-scoring form, with their most recent triumph coming against Nantes on Sunday, in what was a 3-0 victory.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this highly important and mouthwatering fixture in the Champions League this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Nagelsmann rested star performer Emil Forsberg in the defeat to Gladbach on Saturday, so the Swede is pretty much a guaranteed starter on Wednesday. He is set to spearhead the RB Leipzig attack alongside Yussuf Poulsen, who looked in good touch despite losing to the Foals in the last game.
🗣️ #Nagelsmann on team news:
"Nordi #Mukiele re-joined team training on Monday and can train without pain. He probably won't be able to play 90 minutes tomorrow, but he's a candidate for the starting XI. He's a player we need."
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) November 3, 2020
There shouldn’t be any changes in the creative side of things, although youngster Lazar Samardzic, who made his starting debut against Gladbach could make way for ex-PSG star Christopher Nkunku. The Frenchman will be in charge of providing the creative essence in the final third alongside Dani Olmo.
In midfield, meanwhile, Kevin Kampl is most likely to occupy the holding role, in the absence of Konrad Laimer while US international Tyler Adams is a major doubt as he is still dealing with a few problems. We could thus expect Marcel Sabitzer to partner Kampl in the second line of press, though the Austrian would primarily operate alongside the likes of Olmo and Nkunku.
One player who could be available for Wednesday, however, is Nordi Mukiele. The versatile defender rejoined team training on Monday and might be in contention feature, though it is unlikely he will start. It essentially means that Benjamin Henrichs could continue at right-back, with Angelino occupying the opposite flank.
Mukiele’s absence should also help Ibrahima Konate get back into the starting lineup, replacing Willi Orban. With key players like Lukas Klostermann, Mukiele and Marcel Halstenberg struggling with injuries, Nagelsmann is most likely to persist with four-man backline so Dayot Upamecano and Konate are expected to lead the Leipzig defence.
Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Gulacsi; Henrichs, Konate, Upamecano, Angelino; Kampl; Sabitzer, Olmo, Nkunku; Poulsen, Forsberg
Thomas Tuchel is having to deal with a star-studded injury list that includes Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler and Mauro Icardi. None of these five players have been included in the squad to face RB Leipzig on Wednesday.
The absence of these star attackers should pave the way for the likes of Moise Kean, Angel Di Maria and Pablo Sarabia to lead the PSG frontline. It will be interesting to see whether or not these players have what it takes to break down the Leipzig defence that has looked pretty vulnerable, of late.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) November 3, 2020
However, by far Leipzig’s strongest asset is their second line of press. The combination of Kampl and Sabitzer is indeed hard to break while the likes of Olmo and Nkunku will be ready to craft chances in the final third. Hence, Tuchel is more likely to opt for a 4-3-3 with three midfielders guarding the backline.
Ander Herrera is almost a guaranteed starter while the nature of the opponent makes the robust Leandro Paredes a tempting option for the German mastermind. Idrissa Gueye is expected to fill the additional hole in midfield, though Rafinha is another option should Tuchel opt for more creative firepower.
In defence, Marquinhos should return to the side after being rested in the win over Nantes in the form of a substitute appearance. The Brazilian should feature at the heart of PSG’s four-man backline alongside Presnel Kimpembe, with Alessandro Florenzi likely to get the nod ahead of Colin Dagba and Thilo Kehrer at right-back.
There could be a bit of conflict on the opposite flank, however. Mitchell Bakker is making quite an impression this season and should be favoured to start ahead of Layvin Kurzawa. Unfortunately for the PSG fans, Tuchel might go with experience in this one.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Herrera, Gueye, Paredes; Sarabia, Kean, Di Maria
- RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain will meet for the second time in European competition, with this game coming just 78 days after they met in the semi-final of last season’s Champions League.
- RB Leipzig have only won one of their previous five games against French opponents in the Champions League, going winless in three games since they beat AS Monaco 4-1 in the 2017/18 group stage.
- None of the previous 14 games between PSG and German opponents in the European Cup/Champions League have ever ended in a draw, with PSG winning nine of those games (five defeats).
- RB Leipzig suffered a 5-0 defeat of MD2 of the Champions League versus Manchester United, their heaviest defeat ever in Europe and heaviest suffered in the Champions League group stage by a German team since FC Schalke lost 5-0 to Chelsea back in 2014.
- PSG have won nine of their last 14 away games in UCL group stage and are unbeaten in their last six.
Player to Watch
Sepakan voli Yussuf Poulsen mampu merobek jala Augsburg dan memberi kemenangan untuk RB Leipzig di Bundesliga 2020/21 pekan ke-4.
— SuperSoccer TV (@my_supersoccer) October 30, 2020
One of the main aspects regarding this clash of two of the most brilliant minds in the footballing world is the craft that will go into the chance creation for the two respective teams. But with PSG missing key players, RB Leipzig, one could argue, have the advantage and their striker Yussuf Poulsen, could be key, in that regard.
The Dane might not boast the same skills as Forsberg or most of his teammates in terms of his chance creation. But, the forward has a remarkable sense of position, which is coupled with an unrivalled work-rate and willingness to pressurise the opposing ball-carrier.
Poulsen, therefore, will effectively be leading Leipzig’s first line of press. His strength, determination and grit, along with a sharp eye for goal could make all the difference in this particular fixture.
RB Leipzig 2-2 PSG
PSG, as mentioned earlier, are heading into this game on the back of a free-scoring form. But, a strong RB Leipzig attack will be desperate to make an impression by breaching a typically solid French defence, effectively leading to a more open game than one would think. We are expecting a high scoring 2-2 draw this midweek.