Paris Saint-Germain will be hopeful of pulling off a grand heist when they take on Brest in the final matchday of Ligue 1 on Sunday.
In a season layered with mediocrity, the Coupe de France triumph over AS Monaco earlier this week served as a breath of fresh air for Paris Saint-Germain, as lock horns with Brest, in the final Ligue 1 match on Sunday.
The defending French champions are currently second in the league table, trailing LOSC Lille by just a solitary point heading into the final matchday. It essentially means that Mauricio Pochettino’s men need to win against Brest, and hope Lille drop points against SCO Angers on the same day, in order to successfully defend the title.
It would be quite the heist for PSG given that they have been behind in the race for almost the entirety of the campaign. The momentum is with them as well, having recently secured the Coupe de France trophy in midweek while Lille dropped valuable points last weekend against Saint-Etienne.
Brest, however, will be no pushovers as they are embroiled in the race to avoid the relegation playoff space that involves a whopping six Bordeaux, Lorient and Nantes. Although it remains very unlikely they will finish in the dreaded 18th position, the hosts will be determined to avoid a defeat, especially knowing the impact it could make at the top end of the league table.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this important Ligue 1 title-decider at Stade Francis-Le Ble this weekend.
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— Stade Brestois 29 (@SB29) May 21, 2021
Brest head coach Olivier Dall’Oglio is a proponent of the 4-4-2 setup, with two banks of four protecting goalkeeper Gautier Larsonneur while the two attackers largely look to operate on the counter.
Gaetan Charbonnier and Steve Mounie usually spearhead the line for Brest, mostly relying on long balls or crosses from the wider attackers like Franck Honorat and Romain Faivre, with the duo attaining a combined total of ten assists in Ligue 1 this season.
There should not be any changes in Brest’s line of press, as Dall’Oglio looks to persist with the pairing of Hugo Magnetti and captain Haris Belkebla at the base of the 4-4-2. These two are going to play a key role in protecting the back four by pressing the PSG ball carriers.
They could hope for additional support from the wide midfielders as well, with Brest likely to adopt a narrow, compact shape to minimise spaces for PSG in central areas.
It could force the opposition move the ball out wide, where the full-backs Julien Faussurier and Romain Perraud will be expected to keep things tight, making it easier for the central defensive duo of Jean-Kevin Duverne and Brendan Chardonnet to cover Larsonneur in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Larsonneur; Faussurier, Duverne, Chardonnet, Perraud; Honorat, Magnetti, Belkebla, Faivre; Mounie, Charbonnier
Mauricio Pochettino will be boosted by the timely return of Presnel Kimpembe, as the defender has served his three-match suspension. He should slot right back into the heart of the PSG defence alongside Marquinhos.
There might be changes elsewhere in the defensive unit as well, with Colin Dagba hoping to replace Alessandro Florenzi at right-back. The young Mitchel Bakker, too, is likely to replace Abdou Diallo on the opposite flank, as PSG deal with the absence of Layvin Kurzawa. The Dutchman is expected to operate in a more attacking role while Dagba should remain deep and assist the centre-backs.
Pochettino interestingly opted for a three-man midfield setup in the final against Monaco in midweek. This time around, he could go for a more attacking 4-2-3-1, with his favoured Leandro Paredes operating in the double pivot Idrissa Gueye, whose control in possession could be vital in helping PSG control things in the middle of the park.
In the attacking department, the visitors are set to welcome Neymar back into the mix after he missed the cup final against Monaco. The Brazilian remains a guaranteed starter in the number ten role, hoping to become the focal point of the PSG attack, with additional support coming from the wide attacking duo of Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler.
All of the three attackers will hope to breach the Brest backline with their trickery on the ball. PSG’s main weapon, however, will be the pace and quality of Kylian Mbappe on the break, as the Frenchman looks to spearhead the line for Les Parisiens.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Paredes, Gueye; Di Maria, Neymar, Draxler; Mbappe
- Brest have only won 11% of their Ligue 1 games against Paris Saint-Germain (3/28), their lowest ratio against a current top-flight team. Their last league win against Les Parisien dates back to January 1985.
- Only one point separates Lille (80) and PSG (79) before the last Ligue 1 matchday of the season, the smallest gap between a leader and their runner-up at this stage of the competition since the 2001/02 season (Lens with one-point lead over Lyon, who became champions). PSG will be crowned French champions for the 10th time if they better LOSC’s result.
- Brest have lost their last three Ligue 1 home games against PSG, while they have never lost four in a row against a single opponent in the top-flight.
- PSG have 79 points after 37 games in Ligue in 2020/21 campaign, only Monaco (79 in 2013/14) and PSG themselves (86 in 2016/17) have had as many or more points without being top of the table at this stage of the season in the division.
- Brest are currently 16th after 37 games in Ligue 1, only two of the 53 teams in this position at this stage have dropped to 18th place or below: Strasbourg in 1970/91 (18th, relegated) and Niort in 1989/88 (18th, play-off and then relegated).
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Kylian Mbappe stepped up brilliantly in midweek, in the absence of Neymar, helping the French giants secure their 14th league cup title with a 2-0 win over AS Monaco. Absent for the most part this month, Mbappe has a point to prove after being criticised for his performance in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.
Mbappe 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 and indeed, in the final over Monaco.
He will be desperate to finish the campaign on a high note by securing the Ligue 1 title once again, but with Brest unlikely to offer too much space in behind the backline, it will be interesting to see how the 22-year-old navigates in the final third this weekend.
Brest 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Despite their poor form for the most part of the campaign, Paris Saint-Germain have fared well in recent weeks, especially with Kylian Mbappe firing in all cylinders. They still need to improve defensively, but with Present Kimpembe returning from suspension, we are expecting Mauricio Pochettino’s men to seal a comfortable win away from home this weekend.