Paris Saint-Germain will set their sights at the top of the Ligue 1 table as they face Metz at Stade-Symphorien on Saturday.
Following their 5-0 triumph over SCO Angers in Coupe de France, Paris Saint-Germain are looking to shift their attention back to the Ligue 1 title race as they take on Metz on Saturday. It is a must-win game for the defending champions, who are trailing league leaders LOSC Lille by just one point heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
PSG have exhibited good form in domestic competitions, of late, but any mishap will not only open up the opportunity for Lille to extend their lead at the top but it could also allow the chasing pack in both AS Monaco and Olympique Lyon to potentially overtake Les Parisiens by the end of this matchday.
Their opponents may have a slight advantage in the form of PSG’s footballing schedule, with the Ligue 1 giants due to play Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League semi-final in midweek. It is certain to impact Mauricio Pochettino’s preparation heading into this game, although it remains likely that the club would want to prioritise both the competitions equally.
In Metz, PSG are up against one of the struggling teams in Ligue 1 at the moment, who have failed to win in any of their last six matches in all competitions. Les Grenats had recently lost to league leaders Lille earlier this month, which was followed by a goalless draw with Reims.
However, they are not an opposition to be taken lightly by PSG, and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial match-up in the context of the Ligue 1 title race this weekend.
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#FCMPSG [ 𝔾𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕡𝕖 ]
— FC Metz ☨ (@FCMetz) April 23, 2021
Frederic Antonetti was not the head coach of Metz when these two teams last met each other in Ligue 1, so it will be interesting to see what kind of method he employs in this encounter. The 59-year-old is more than likely to persist with his back-three that will operate in a deep defensive block, possibly turning into a back-five with the two wing-backs in Fabien Centonze and Thomas Delaine dropping deep.
The central defensive combination of club captain John Boye, Kiko Kouyate and Dylan Bronn have served Metz well in recent matches. They will look to continue that momentum up against the PSG attack, chock-full of quality.
In midfield, Metz will largely rely on the services of Habib Maiga and reported Manchester United target Pape Sarr, despite the former’s recent issues with a lack of match fitness. They will play an integral role in aiding the central defenders while they also need to appear assertive in possession.
As for the attack, Farid Boulaye should act as the lone number ten for Metz. He will essentially be a key figure in the creative side of the game, including the set-pieces, as the 28-year-old looks to offer the supply to Aaron Leya Iseka and Lamine Gueye upfront.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Oukidja; Bronn, Boye, Kouyate; Centonze, Maiga, Sarr, Delaine; Boulaya; Gueye, Iseka
PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino will have some key decisions to make on Saturday, in terms of team selection, as the former Tottenham manager keeps one eye on the important Champions League fixture against Manchester City.
It won’t be surprising to see Neymar being rested, while Kylian Mbape should return to the side, thus renewing his attacking partnership alongside Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria. The trio will hope to support Mauro Icardi, with Neymar and Moise Kean serving as potential alternatives from the bench.
It appears unlikely Pochettino would want to make too many changes in midfield, though. The Argentine does not really trust Ander Herrera that much while Marco Verratti could be preserved for the Man City game, thus paving the way for Idrissa Gueye and Leandro Paredes to continue their partnership in the double-pivot.
The duo will play an important role in helping PSG keep things neat and tidy in possession. However, they have often appeared passive against Ligue 1 sides and it is something that needs to change this weekend, as most French opponents tend to play with a deep defensive line against PSG.
Defensively, Pochettino is still missing Marquinhos, Keylor Navas and Juan Bernat, but he did rest Presnel Kimpembe in midweek. The Frenchman is almost guaranteed to return to the side, featuring alongside Danilo in central defence, while Alessandro Florenzi and Layvin Kurzawa could be a part of the rotation policy in the full-back department.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Rico; Florenzi, Danilo, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Paredes, Gueye; Di Maria, Draxler, Mbappe; Icardi
- PSG have won their last nine Ligue 1 games against Metz, scoring 28 goals (3.1 per game), their second-best current run against an opponent behind their 10 consecutive wins against Angers.
- Metz have lost their last 13 Ligue 1 games against a titleholder. This is the second-worst run in the Ligue 1 history behind Strasbourg (15 between February 2000 and March 2018).
- PSG have won their last five away Ligue 1 games, the best current run in the division and their best such run since November 2019-February 2020.
- Metz are winless in their last six Ligue 1 games, their longest such run in the top-flight since October-December 2019.
- Metz have failed to score in each of their last three Ligue 1 games, but they haven’t registered a longer run in the top-flight since October-November 2017.
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Mauro Icardi has been in sparkling form since returning to full fitness last weekend, notably starring in PSG’s last couple of matches. His last-minute winner against Saint-Etienne, in particular, helped his team churn out three points that could prove to be pivotal in the Ligue 1 title race.
The Argentine also performed magnificently in the last game against Angers, in the Coupe de France. He secured a clinical hat-trick in the 5-0 victory that sealed PSG’s place in the semi-final of the coveted competition and as Les Parisiens face Metz this weekend, the onus will be on Icardi once again to deliver the goods in the final third.
It will also be interesting to see how the former Inter Milan star partners with the returning Mbappe, who is equally a dangerous attacking prospect for the Metz backline this weekend.
Metz 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
PSG have a stellar record against a Metz side who have not only leaked goals but have also failed to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. It makes the visitors quite the favourites heading into this game, and with Pochettino likely to employ a full-strength squad, we are expecting a relatively easy victory for the reigning champions.