Paris Saint-Germain will shift their attention back to the Ligue 1 title race when they take on FC Strasbourg on Saturday.
It has been a roller-coaster of start to the month for Paris Saint-Germain, whose dreadful defeat to LOSC Lille was overshadowed by an excellent victory over reigning European champions Bayern Munich, in the UEFA Champions League.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men will have no room for respite, however, as they resume their Ligue 1 campaign with a trip to Strasbourg on Saturday. It will be a vital game for the defending champions, who are trailing league leaders Lille by three points while the chasing pack in Lyon and AS Monaco are also breathing down their necks.
While Strasbourg may not seem like a daunting opposition, PSG will be well aware of the fact that any mishap could tarnish their hopes of making a late recovery, especially with none of their fellow title challengers facing any particularly tricky opposition in this weekend’s round of fixture, although Lille’s trip to Metz could be a tricky one.
PSG were the overwhelming victors when these two sides last met each other in the reverse fixture, with Les Parisiens securing a 4-0 win. Pochettino will be hoping for more of the same this weekend and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial matchup at Stade de la Meinau.
Team News & Tactics
🎙️ Thierry #Laurey : "Il faudra moins les regarder et être plus actifs qu’à l’aller pour contrecarrer leurs plans. Sinon, ils ont les joueurs capables de faire des différences à tout moment."#RCSAPSG pic.twitter.com/nm9LsOZVH8
— Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace (@RCSA) April 8, 2021
Strasbourg head coach Thierry Laurey must have taken note of PSG’s counter-attacking prowess that was on full display in the recent win over Bayern Munich. It will relieve him of any doubts regarding a deep defensive line that will make things much more difficult for Les Parisien, as far as breaching the opposing defence is concerned.
Unfortunately, the hosts are missing a key defensive player in Mohamed Simakan, so Laurey will once again have to make do with Lamine Kone and Stefan Mitrovic at the heart of the Strasbourg defence, with additional support from the full-backs, Anthony Caci and Frederic Guilbert.
Alternatively, Laurey could opt for a three-man backline, with Alexander Djiku slotting in as the extra centre-back. It could offer better balance as well as the numerical superiority in midfield that should make Strasbourg more competent in possession.
The hosts are otherwise expected to continue with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation that will see Jean-Eudes Aholou operate as the holding midfielder, just behind the two number eights in Ibrahima Sissoko and Dimitri Lienard, although the latter could join attacking midfielder Adrien Thomasson in transition.
The Strasbourg attack should be spearheaded by Habib Diallo and the club’s topscorer in Ludovic Ajorque. Both are deadly in front of goal and the PSG defence will have to remain cautious on the counter.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): Sels; Guilbert, Kone, Mitrovic, Caci; Aholou; Lienard, Sissoko; Thomasson; Ajorque, Diallo
In a season filled with struggles in breaking the shackles of the opposition or finding a good rhythm in approach play, PSG’s rather one-dimensional counter-attacking tactics against Bayern Munich was a breath of fresh air for many fans and onlookers.
Unfortunately on Saturday, the Ligue 1 champions will once again be dealt with the job of tearing through a low defensive block that will nullify the pace of Kylian Mbappe while Neymar is facing a suspension following his late red against Lille.
— Ligue 1 Uber Eats (@Ligue1UberEats) April 7, 2021
It puts Mauricio Pochettino in a spot of bother as the PSG manager has key attacking players unavailable, though one could envision the return of Moise Kean to the side. The on-loan Everton striker should spearhead the PSG attack, with Mbappe and Angel Di Maria operating as wingers while Julian Draxler should start in the attacking midfield role.
Pochettino faces a bigger issue in midfield as the French FA has decided to suspend both Idrissa Gueye and Leandro Paredes after they picked up three yellow cards in ten matches. They join Marco Veratti in PSG’s list of absentees, meaning the visitors could now rely on the services of Danilo Pereira and Ander Herrera in central midfield this weekend.
Defensively, Marquinhos picked up an injury against Bayern Munich and should be ruled out. Abdou Diallo could slot in at the heart of the PSG defence, alongside Presnel Kimpembe, also paving the way for the young Mitchell Bakker to start at left-back.
Alternatively, Pochettino could deploy Danilo at centre-back, though it might force him to start with Rafinha in central midfield. A risky move, given the playmaker’s attacking nature.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Kimpembe, Diallo, Bakker; Danilo, Herrera; Di Maria, Draxler, Mbappe; Kean
- RC Strasbourg have lost 51.7% of their games against PSG in Ligue 1, only against Sedan do they have a higher loss percentage in the top-flight (52.6% – 20/38).
- PSG have eight defeats after 31 games in Ligue 1 2020/21 campaign, their highest tally at this stage of a season since 2009/10 (12, finishing 13th that campaign).
- Strasbourg have lost just one of their last six home games against PSG in Ligue 1, after losing five of their previous six.
- PSG have lost their last three games following a Champions League fixture, after being unbeaten in their first five such fixtures this season.
- Strasbourg have won two of their last four games in Ligue 1, after winning only one of their previous seven.
Player to Watch
Kylian Mbappe was the star of the UEFA Champions League in midweek, scoring a brace past Manuel Neuer to inspire his side to a 3-2 victory in the first leg of the quarter-final. It automatically makes him the most important player heading into this clash as PSG looks to return to winning after a defeat to Lille.
Especially without Neymar and Mauro Icardi, Mbappe could become the focal point of the PSG frontline. His pace on the break, coupled with the ability to take on defenders and attempts precise efforts on goal could go a long way in helping the visitors stress the Strasbourg defence. Put simply, Mbappe’s performance this weekend could be a huge factor in PSG’s fate in this game.
RC Strasbourg 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Strasbourg have done a great job in recent weeks and might pose a strong challenge, especially with PSG missing out on so many key players. However, the current form of Kylian Mbappe coupled with the motivation and confidence gathered from the recent win over Bayern Munich could serve as a major factor in helping the visitors seal a comfortable win this weekend.