Mauricio Pochettino is eying his first major silverware as a coach, as Paris Saint-Germain take on AS Monaco in the Coupe de France final on Wednesday.
Paris Saint-Germain will be served with a welcome distraction on Wednesday as they take on AS Monaco in the Coupe de France final, at the iconic Stade de France.
It will be an opportunity for PSG their first major trophy in the 2020/21 campaign after a disappointing season that has seen them in the midst of a Ligue 1 title that has stretched until the final matchday as well as an embarrassing elimination from UEFA Champions League, at the hands of Manchester City.
Les Parisien have performed well in Coupe de France, though, securing impressive wins over Brest, Lille and Angers before edging out Montpellier in the semi-final.
Monaco, on the other hand, are enjoying a dream season under Niko Kovac and technically one of three clubs still in the title race heading into the final matchday of the Ligue 1 campaign. In Coupe de France, they, too, have been dealt with tricky opponents including OGC Nice, Metz and Lyon.
Les Monegasques, though, had a field day in the semi-final against fourth-tier outfit GFA Rumilly Vallieres, whose journey to the semi-final was one of the stories in this edition of Coupe de France.
Monaco, nevertheless, will hope to shift their attention to sealing the trophy, and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of the Coupe de France final this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Pochettino has to make some key decisions in terms of his team selection, knowing he will also have to keep one eye on the important weekend league fixture against Brest.
The Argentine was dealt with a massive blow on the weekend, with Neymar yellow card ruling him out for the cup final. The additional injury to Julian Draxler doesn’t help either. The German international, in fact, will join Layvin Kurzawa and Mateo Veratti on the sidelines.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 18, 2021
Nevertheless, Pochettino does have options at his disposal, with Rafinha tipped for a start in the number ten role. The Spaniard should form the creative trifecta alongside Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria, as they look to create goalscoring opportunities for the lone frontman in Moise Kean.
There could be changes in the midfield department as well, given the fact that Leandro Paredes should return to the fray. The Argentine should occupy the double-pivot alongside Ander Herrera, hoping to provide control in the middle of the park.
Defensively, PSG will have to make do without Presnel Kimpembe due to suspension, thus guaranteeing a spot for Thilo Kehrer alongside Marquinhos at the heart of the four-man backline.
Kurzawa’s absence, on the other hand, means Mitchell Bakker should get another opportunity at left-back, though Pochettino will be tempted to rotate on the opposite flank, with Alessandro Florenzi coming in for Colin Dagba.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kehrer, Bakker; Paredes, Herrera; Di Maria, Rafinha, Mbappe; Kean
Niko Kovac has gotten the better of PSG twice this season, using his aggressive style of play to thwart Les Parisien‘s creative outlets. They have also put additional focus on retaining possession, which is where the midfield duo of Youssouf Fofana and Aurelien Tchouameni could play a vital role this midweek.
Featuring at the base of the 4-4-1-1, these two will look to cut down spaces for the PSG passers in the middle of the park, creating a solid pressing chain that protects the centre-backs.
In possession, both are expected to pass the ball either out wide, exploiting PSG’s weak fullbacks using runners like Gelson Martins and Aleksandr Golovin, or rely on the runs in behind the backline from the central strikers in Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder.
Volland is going to receive some positional freedom, and might even drift out wide, with Golovin, doing the opposition by moving infield. It will make it harder for PSG to mark the players, as Monaco rely on counter-attacks to make them pay.
Defensively, Kovac’s men simply cannot take any risks against the pace of Mbappe. As such, both the centre-backs in Benoit Badiashile and Guillerme Maripan should operate in a conservative role by staying deep in their lines.
There could be a left sided overhaul from Monaco, though, with the right-back Djibril Sidibe remaining deep to combat the pace of Mbappe while Caio Henrique should get forward frequently to aid attackers, especially with Golovin moving infield.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Majecki; Sidibe, Maripan, Badiashile, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Tchouameni, Golovin; Volland; Ben Yedder
- AS Monaco had not conceded a single goal in Coupe de France this season, up until the semi-final when fourth division side Rumilly Vallieres netted in a 2-1 victory for Les Monegasques.
- PSG, too, had a similar record before they conceded twice against Montpellier in the semi-final, including a late equaliser from Andy Delort.
- Monaco have secured a league double over PSG in the Ligue 1, edging them 3-2 at home before securing a 2-0 win at Parc des Princes in February.
- Monaco have won the Coupe de France five times in their history. However, they were last triumphant way back in 1991 – around 30 years ago.
- PSG, in contrast, have won the competition a whopping 13 times, with their most recent triumph coming last season when they beat Lyon in the final.
Player to Watch
The absence of Neymar once again makes Kylian Mbappe the focal point of the PSG attack, as the French giants look to secure their 14th league cup title this midweek.
Absent for the most part of this month, Mbappe has a point to prove after being criticised for his first-leg performance against Manchester City. He since had to miss three games due to injury and suspension before making his return in the semi-final against Montpellier – scoring the two goals for PSG.
The Frenchman was also on the scoresheet in the win over Reims but has been pretty ineffective in the games against Monaco. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the attacker manages to wriggle through the defensive strategy of Niko Kovac’s men, knowing he won’t be offered any space to work with.
Paris Saint-Germain 0-1 AS Monaco
We could be in for a surprise once again, although given how AS Monaco have performed against PSG this season, it might not be a surprise after all.
Indeed, Kovac’s men have simply been the better side this campaign. They have more shape, discipline and though the quality might not be as high, they know how to play against the big shots. It has been evident in their performances so far, and as much, as the Hard Tackle predicts Les Monegasques to secure a narrow victory in this Coupe de France final this midweek.