Montpellier will be hoping to squash PSG’s hopes of lifting any silverware when the two teams meet in the Coupe de France semi-final on Wednesday.
Following their catastrophic defeat to Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain received another major setback this week, when they were held to a 1-1 draw with Rennes on the weekend.
The draw means PSG trail league leaders LOSC Lille by four points, with just two matches remaining. It essentially means that there is a significant chance for the French giants to end the 2020/21 campaign without winning any major trophy, as they take on Montpellier on Wednesday, in the semi-final of the Coupe de France.
Despite their performances in Ligue 1, though, PSG have performed well in this cup, beating Lille, Angers and Caen on their way to the semi-final. Montpellier, in contrast, have had a much easier route to the semis, beating two fourth-tier clubs in Canet Roussilon FC and Voltigeurs de Châteaubriant as well as non-league Olympique Ales in the last three rounds, though they did have to beat Ligue 1 outfit FC Strasbourg in the third round.
La Paillade, however, are no slouch in the league and are currently sitting eighth in the table, though their hopes of finishing inside the top seven are almost non-existent. They are, nevertheless, more than capable of securing an upset against PSG. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of their enticing semi-final affair in Coupe de France this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
🔥 38 buts @Ligue1UberEats
🤝 17 passes décisives
— MHSC (@MontpellierHSC) May 10, 2021
With nothing more left to gain from the Ligue 1 campaign, Montpellier head coach Michel der Zakarian should field the strongest possible eleven in an attempt to oust PSG this midweek. As such, he should revert the changes he made in the weekend win over Strasbourg.
Tactically, the 58-year-old had initially started the campaign with a three-man backline but evidently switched to a more traditional back four. He should follow a similar setup against PSG, preferably a low block trying to frustrate the opposing attackers that are more than susceptible to losing their cool – as has been evident in recent weeks.
The back four, though, might have to operate with width as PSG do like to stretch the play. The onus, therefore, will be on the holding midfielder Damien le Tallec to plug those available gaps in between the two ageing central defenders in Hilton and Daniel Congre.
Junior Sambia should also re-occupy the right-back slot, at the expense of Arnaud Souquet, with the gap in midfield likely to be filled by the returning Teji Savanier, as he looks to renew his partnership alongside Jordan Ferri and le Tallec in the middle of the park.
As for the attacking department is concerned, Montpellier are known for the exploits of their target man Andy Delort, meaning the two wingers in Gaetan Laborde and Stephy Mavididi will be looking to produce those whipping crosses into the box, in the hopes of a potential breakthrough.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bertaud; Sambia, Hilton, Congre, Ristic; Savanier, le Tallec, Ferri; Laborde, Delort, Mavididi
Mauricio Pochettino once again faces a selection dilemma, but given the fact that Coupe de France might well be his only chance of sealing a trophy at this stage of the season, the Argentine is likely to field a strong eleven against Montpellier.
Unfortunately, though, Presnel Kimpembe is unavailable for PSG after picking up a straight red against Rennes. It means Abdou Diallo should make a comeback, featuring alongside Marquinhos at the heart of the four-man backline.
Pochettino could shuffle his pack in the full-back slots as well, with Alessandro Florenzi and Mitchell Bakker coming in for Colin Dagba and Layvin Kurzawa. These two provide a nice balance between offence and defence, so it won’t be surprising to see PSG adopting a right sided overload.
In midfield, Ander Herrera and Marco Veratti are suspended due to the accumulation of yellow cards. It should pave the way for Leandro Paredes to return to renew his partnership alongside Idrissa Gueye in the double pivot, as the duo looks to offer the control and assurance in possession.
As for attack, Angel Di Maria might be in for a breather, which means either Pablo Sarabia or Julian Draxler might get the nod. Sarabia, being a bit-part player, is the favourite, while Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are both expected to start, with the latter returning from a suspension. They are set to offer support for the central striker Mauro Icardi, as the Argentine hopes to rekindle his scoring form.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Diallo, Bakker; Paredes, Gueye; Sarabia, Neymar, Mbappe; Icardi
- Paris Saint-Germain have not conceded a single goal in their Coupe de France campaign, keeping four back to back clean sheets in their route to the semi-final.
- Montpellier have fared poorly against PSG in the league this season, tasting a 3-1 defeat in the home fixture before conceding four goals at Parc des Princes in January.
- Despite their poor performance in the league, PSG are the highest scorers in the competition with 80 goals in just 36 matches.
- Montpellier, meanwhile, have the worst defensive record in the top half of the Ligue 1 table, with only four clubs conceding more goals in the entire league.
- After playing four successive away matches, this is the first time Montpellier host a game in Coupe de France this season.
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Kylian Mbappe is definitely going to attract the limelight this midweek, as he hopes to return to the pitch after failing to appear in any of PSG’s last three matches in all competitions. During this period, Les Parisien have been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and have lost significant ground in the Ligue 1 title race.
It is enough to underline the importance of the Frenchman, who offers the kind of energy and pace that often goes missing without him in the squad. This week, Mbappe will be hoping to plug that gap, as he looks to return to the PSG attack, operating alongside Neymar and potentially, Di Maria, in an attempt to brush aside the Montpellier defence.
Prior to the Champions League game last week, Mbappe was criticised for his lack of effectiveness in tight spaces. So the attacker will have a point to prove, up against a side that are likely to operate in deep blocks.
Montpellier 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Montpellier have one of the worst defences in the league and have recently lost momentum after two back to back defeats in the league, prior to their win over Strasbourg on the weekend. It makes PSG strong favourites, especially due to the return of Kylian Mbappe that could strengthen their ability to penetration the opposition lines.
Although we do expect Montpellier to create some chances from set-pieces, The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow win over Les Parisien in this Coupe de France semi-final this week.