PSG are prepping themselves for an incoming Bayern Munich blitzkrieg as the two teams meet again on Tuesday in the Champions League.
PSG are bracing themselves for yet another defensive job ahead as they welcome Bayern Munich to Parc des Princes on Wednesday. It is the second leg affair of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, with the hosts leading 3-2 on aggregate.
It essentially means that the Ligue 1 giants only need to hold on to a draw to secure a berth in the semi-final for the second time in a row, in this coveted competition.
They had required a similar defensive strategy to beat FC Barcelona in the previous round, but coach Mauricio Pochettino will be well aware of the fact that their midweek opponent boasts significantly more quality in their ranks, with PSG themselves lacking a big cushion as they had in the game against Barca.
One glimmer of hope for the hosts comes in the form of Bayern’s injury crisis as well as their form, with the Bavarians recently drawing 1-1 with Union Berlin on the weekend. There have also been speculations linking Hansi Flick to a move away from the club in the summer, following the footsteps of a host of experienced stars like Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and David Alaba.
Here at The Hard Tackle, we will dig deep into Bayern’s crisis as we preview this exciting contest between two of the powerhouses of modern European football.
Team News & Tactics
Mauricio Pochettino was careful with his team selection in the weekend game against RC Strasbourg as he rested Angel Di Maria while Neymar was suspended. They are both guaranteed to return against Bayern, forming the PSG attacking unit alongside the talismanic Kylian Mbappe while Julian Draxler should fill in, too, either on the wings or in the number ten role.
The German’s involvement in the game is a bit of doubt as Marco Verratti has returned to training for PSG and could start if deemed fit. However, we do go with Draxler, whose passing and creativity could be useful in unleashing runners like Mbappe and Neymar, in behind the opposing backline – just like they did in the first leg.
As for the midfield unit, Leandro Paredes produced a solid performance against Strasbourg. And with Danilo set to operate at centre-back in the absence of Marquinhos, the Argentine is a favourite to form the double-pivot alongside Idrissa Gueye. Paredes will provide the grit to Gueye’s grace in the PSG midfield, although the latter must be more accountable in the creative side of the game.
Moving further back, Marquinhos’ absence, as discussed earlier, could serve as a massive blow for PSG. In his absence, Presnel Kimpembe will have to step up, marshal the backline alongside Danilo, especially as Les Parisien continue to remain without their premier full-backs in Alessandro Florenzi and Layvin Kurzawa, although the latter has returned to training.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Pereira, Kimpembe, Diallo; Paredes, Gueye; Di Maria, Neymar, Draxler; Mbappe
Bayern Munich are missing a host of their key players heading into this game including Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso.
It has left Hansi Flick devoid of options in midfield and in attack, with the German tactician having to rely on the services of the former PSG star Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as the leader of the attack.
Things are even dire in midfield, however, following the injury of Goretzka and Tolisso. While Joshua Kimmich remains a guaranteed starter, Flick is likely to start with David Alaba as his preferred partner, ahead of Marc Roca.
The Austrian international can offer better defensive coverage, thus allowing Kimmich, who created ten chances in the first leg, to become more expressive going forward. Alaba, too, can make those driving runs himself and has a lethal left foot that makes him a threat from long range.
The attack almost picks itself, with Leroy Sane, Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman forming the creative trifecta, although Hansi Flick does have the option of starting the young and exciting Jamal Musiala, who scored the only goal in the club’s draw with Union Berlin on the weekend.
Defensively, Alaba’s presence in midfield and Sule’s absence through injury should see Lucas Hernandez playing alongside Jerome Boateng at centre-back. Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies should occupy their preferred full-back roles, with Manuel Neuer starting in goal, hoping for a more solid display in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Alaba; Sane, Muller, Coman; Choupo-Moting
- Bayern Munich had 31 shots to PSG’s six in last Wednesday’s first leg, 12 of which were on target.
- Joshua Kimmich created 10 chances in that first game, the most in a Champions League quarter-final since Mesut Özil for Real Madrid against Tottenham Hotspur in April 2012.
- Bayern beat PSG 1-0 in the final of last season’s competition, with former Paris academy graduate Coman heading home the winner in Lisbon.
- Defending champions Bayern have been crowned kings of Europe six times. PSG’s run to last year’s final was their best ever result.
- Bayern have scored at least 2 goals in 18 of their last 20 matches in the Champions League.
Player to Watch
PSG will undoubtedly be on the backfoot and the less imposing team in this second leg with Bayern Munich likely to go all guns blazing despite their depleted setup. It could once again make Keylor Navas the most important player in this game, as the former Real Madrid shot-stopper hopes to produce a heroic performance to knock the Bavarians out of the competition.
Navas has already been one of the best goalkeepers in Europe this season, attaining a save percentage ratio of close to 80%. He was also one of PSG’s star performers in the first leg as well as the second leg against FC Barcelona. His services will once again be required on Tuesday as the French champions hope to reach the semi-finals.
PSG 1-3 Bayern Munich
As mentioned earlier, PSG are unlikely to dominate this game and are primarily expected to play on the counter. However, they might find things difficult against a Bayern side who will look to be more cautious in their counter-pressing, with perhaps even a deeper defensive line. It could make it difficult for PSG to utilise the pace and quality of attackers like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Meanwhile, in the attacking unit for Bayern, they could potentially have things easier as PSG are without their defensive leader in Marquinhos. We are, therefore, expecting a 3-1 win for the Bavarians in this one, meaning the reigning European champions should qualify with a marginal 5-4 lead on aggregate.