PSG will be hoping to recover from their UEFA Champions League elimination and turn their focus back to Ligue 1 when they take on Stade Rennais on Sunday.
It has been a miserable start to the month for Paris Saint-Germain, particularly after a demoralising 4-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of Manchester City, in the UEFA Champions League. On the bright side, though, it should allow them to completely shift their attention to the Ligue 1 title race as they lock horns with Stade Rennais FC on Sunday, in a must-win encounter.
The defending champions are currently second in the league table, trailing leaders LOSC Lille by four points after Les Dogues secured a crucial 3-0 win over RC Lens on Friday. Although PSG cannot overtake their rivals at the top this matchday, it will be crucial for them to maintain the pressure.
However, with the whole of Ligue 1 against them, they could face a stern against Rennes, who are in an excellent run of form at the moment. In fact, their six-game unbeaten streak in Ligue 1 came to an end last weekend, as they fell to a narrow defeat against Bordeaux.
Les Rouge et Noir still have an outside chance of finishing inside the top five, so they will be desperate cause an upset against PSG. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial encounter at Stade de la Route de Lorient this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Rennes’ newly appointed head coach Bruno Genesio has predominantly used an attacking 4-3-3 formation, and the results have been quite good as well, with the club losing only one of their last seven matches.
Whether or not Rennes will retain the same level of attacking mindset remains to be seen, but Genesio is certainly likely to stick to a 4-3-3 setup, with the familiar trio of Jeremy Doku, Sehrou Guirassy and Martin Terrier.
The Rennes boss, though, has been dealt with a major blow heading into this game as both Steven N’Zonzi and Edouardo Camavinga are unavailable due to suspensions, with the former picking up a red card in the defeat to Bordeaux.
It could cause a selection dilemma in midfield, with Clement Grenier likely to deputise for the suspended N’Zonzi while Camavinga’s absence should see Benjamin Bourigeaud return in a more central role, alongside Flavien Tait. These three will hope to put pressure on PSG’s ball carriers, although their attacking nature might see Rennes taking some risks, in search of a vital victory that could be of massive help for Lille.
Defensively, Rennes are likely to adopt Lens’ counter-attacking approach, especially against a PSG side without Mbappe. As such, the four-man backline consisting of Hamari Traore, Damien da Silva, Nayef Aguerd and Faitout Maoussa could look to avoid a low block that would allow PSG to dominate possession.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Gomis; Traore, da Silva, Aguerd, Maoussa; Bourigeaud, Grenier, Tait; Doku, Guirassy, Terrier
Kylian Mbappe was the most notable absentee from PSG’s starting eleven against Manchester City in midweek. The Frenchman is set to remain unavailable once again as the forward serves a yellow card suspension, essentially paving the way for Mauro Icardi to spearhead the PSG attack this weekend.
The Argentine should be accompanied by Neymar and Angel Di Maria, as Mauricio Pochettino looks to field the strongest possible eleven in search of a crucial victory. The alternatives like Julian Draxler and Moise Kean, meanwhile, should appear as substitutes and might even start in the Coupe de France semi-final next week.
In midfield, Idrissa Gueye is back into the mix after serving his suspension. The former Everton midfielder should offer the much-needed stability in the middle of the park alongside Leandro Paredes, essentially allowing Pochettino to deploy Marco Verratti in a number ten role.
The Italian is adept in recycling possession and carry the ball around half-spaces. His ability work in tight areas should also help PSG evade Rennes’ second line of press, though the onus will be on attackers to offer themselves as viable passing options.
Finally, at the back, Pochettino is likely to ring in the changes in the full-back slots, with Colin Dagba and Layvin Kurzawa coming in for Alessandro Florenzi and Abdou Diallo. Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe, though, are set to continue at the heart of the PSG defence. Their experience could be critical in helping PSG avoid any defensive catastrophe, while they are also an indirect threat from set-pieces, making them huge assets to this team.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Paredes, Gueye; Di Maria, Verratti, Neymar; Icardi
- Rennes have lost 12 of their last 17 Ligue 1 games against PSG, after losing none of their previous 10.
- PSG have won 13 of their last 17 games in the top-flight (L4), including each of their last four, their longest such run since September-November 2020 (8).
- Rennes could win two Ligue 1 home games in a row against PSG for the first time since February 2011.
- Rennes have won 54 points after 35 Ligue 1 games this season, their highest tally at this stage since 2011/12 (57).
- Rennes have won their last three Ligue 1 home games, their longest run in a single campaign in the top-flight since October-December 2019 (5).
Player to Watch
One of the players worth keeping an eye on in this crucial fixture is none other than Neymar. The PSG superstar has a point to prove, after struggling in both legs against Manchester City. The attacker also voiced his disappointment and upset over the defeat, so a positive display against Rennes could go a long way in helping him regain the confidence.
From a tactical perspective, PSG will rely heavily on Neymar, in the absence of Mbappe. With not much speed on offer, the onus will be on the Brazilian to use his quick feet and trickery to deceive the Rennes defence and inspire a victory. It will also be interesting to see how Neymar combines with Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi, as both of these players also struggled to impact the game against Manchester City in midweek.
Stade Rennais 2-3 Paris Saint-Germain
This promises to be a high scoring affair as both teams boast strong attacking firepower and are capable of finding the back of the net on every given opportunity. Rennes do have the better form despite their defeat to Bordeaux, but the absence of key midfielders could see them fall short, up against a PSG side determined to redeem themselves following their midweek debacle. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-2 win for PSG this weekend.