Paris Saint-Germain face Reims on Sunday, as they look to make a last-gasp attempt to put pressure on league leaders LOSC Lille ahead of the final matchday.
As we head towards the closing stages of the season, the exciting Ligue 1 title is starting to take shape. Paris Saint-Germain’s disappointing draw with Rennes last weekend helped LOSC Lille extend their lead to three points at the top, with Les Dogues now being the favourites to secure the title.
Lille, though, do not play until late Sunday night, meaning PSG can still put pressure on the league leaders when they lock horns with Reims at the same time.
For Les Parisien to prevail, Lille must lose their game against Saint-Etienne, which will open up an opportunity for PSG to regain their place at the top – thanks to a superior goal difference. A win for Christophe Galtier’s men, however, could see them needing only one point in the final matchday.
On the flip side, a defeat for PSG could open up an opportunity for AS Monaco and Lyon to creep up the table. It could potentially create an interesting battle for the top three Champions League places, and there is a legitimate chance that the defending French champions could entirely miss the UEFA Champions League next season, especially if they lose their remaining two matches.
That is where Reims could play a vital role for the rest of the league. Standing at 13th in the league table, David Guion’s men do not have anything much to play for, even though they are still technically involved in the relegation scrap. A point against PSG, in that regard, should be enough to help them secure top-flight status next season.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their fascinating encounter at Parc des Princes this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 14, 2021
Mauricio Pochettino had given some notable key players like Neymar a breather in midweek, in the form of a substitute appearance in the narrow win over Montpellier in the Coupe de France semi-final. Unfortunately for PSG, though, Marco Verratti has been ruled out for the rest of the season while Presnel Kimpembe should also miss the remaining of the Ligue 1 campaign, thanks to his three-game suspension.
Kimpembe’s absence should pave the way for Abdou Diallo to continue at the heart of the PSG defence alongside captain Marquinhos while Colin Dagba should replace Alessandro Florenzi at right-back. Mitchell Bakker, though, could continue on the opposite flank, as Layvin Kurzawa is a massive doubt due to an ankle injury.
It will be interesting to see how Pochettino’s men perform in the middle of the park, as they have often appeared too passive against opponents who prefer sitting deep. Idrissa Gueye, though, has looked in great touch and might continue in midfield alongside Leandro Paredes.
Gueye could look to move forward more often, using his driving runs to cut through Reims’ second line of press while the presence of Neymar in the number ten role should also be useful in helping PSG navigate in between the lines.
Elsewhere in the attack, Julian Draxler is set for a return to the starting eleven, as he operates on the flank along with Angel Di Maria, hoping to provide the supply for Kylian Mbappe, at the tip of the PSG attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Diallo, Bakker; Paredes, Gueye; Di Maria, Neymar, Draxler; Mbappe
Reims typically play with a very flexible shape, with a 4-1-4-1 usually turning into a 4-3-3 during attacking phases, with Mathieu Cafaro and Nathanael Mbuku hoping to act as the main chance creators for the lone forward in Boulaye Dia – the highest scorer for the club with 14 goals this term.
Dia is an extremely centre-forward who can cleverly move into tight spaces, and that is where the midfield trifecta of Marshall Munetsi, Moreto Cassama and Xavier Chavalerin could be useful, especially when it comes to producing those forward passes for Dia or any other winger acting in an inverted role.
From a defensive perspective, Cassama usually sits deep, screening the back four. However, up against PSG, he is going to need additional support, most likely from one of the two central midfielders in order to cut down spaces in between the lines.
The backline itself is going to operate very deep, trying its best to nullify Mbappe’s pace on the break. Yet, the full-backs could be a weakness, even though the right-back Thomas Foket has been one of the rising stars in Ligue 1 this season.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Rajkovic; Foket, Faes, Abdelhamid, Konan; Cassama; Cafaro, Chavalerin, Munetsi, Mbuku; Dia
- PSG won their most recent game against Reims in Ligue 1 (2-0 in September 2020), after losing the previous two. Under Qatar ownership, PSG have lost three games against Reims in the top-flight, only suffering more against Rennes (4), Monaco (4) and Lyon (5) over this period.
- PSG lost their last home game against Reims in Ligue 1, after winning their previous six. That match was also the first home game in which PSG failed to score against them in the top-flight (29 goals in the first 11).
- Reims have won just two of their 14 games in Ligue 1 since February, with only Dijon (1) faring worse over than period. They are winless in their last six games in the top-flight, the longest current run of all sides.
- PSG are unbeaten in their last five games in Ligue 1, their longest run under Mauricio Pochettino.
- PSG have won their last two home games in Ligue 1, after losing their previous three.
Player to Watch
Kylian Mbappe has, no doubt, been the difference-maker for Paris Saint-Germain this season, especially when they have performed poorly. His pace, trickery and almost unstoppable attacking rhythm have often made the difference for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, especially on the counter-attack.
The Frenchman most recently made an impact in the win over Montpellier, scoring twice upon his return to the pitch. PSG will be hoping for pretty much the same against Reims this weekend, although, with no notion of elimination, Mbappe will have to deal with a much deeper backline, and perhaps a faster one (Montpellier central defensive pairing had a combined age of 79!)
Reims, nonetheless, cannot afford to offer any space in behind the backline, especially when they are in an attacking stance, as it would allow the PSG superstar to utilise his pace.
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Reims
After a run of disappointing results, the return of Kylian Mbappe could serve as a spring in the steps of PSG as they look to maintain the pressure on league leaders Lille. They are likely to dominate possession, and given Reims’ poor form heading into this game, it appears unlikely they will find too much difficulty in breaching the opposition defence. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 2-0 win for the hosts.