Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to make it three wins in a row as they take on Brest at Stade Francis-Le Ble on Friday night.
Paris Saint-Germain have enjoyed resounding success this summer, both on and off the pitch. While the capture of Lionel Messi along with some of the other superstars in world football has certainly caught the eye, they have performed very well in these early stages of the campaign as well, notably kickstarting their 2021/22 Ligue 1 with two wins in a row.
On Friday, they will have the opportunity to make it three wins in three as they travel to Stade Francis-Le Ble to face Brest. It is going to be a vital affair for the Ligue 1 giants, in their quest to regain the Ligue 1 title after LOSC Lille’s triumph last season. PSG secured a resounding victory over Strasbourg in their last game, after initially edging out Troyes.
It is questionable whether Brest would represent a tougher challenge, having only narrowly escaped relegation by a point last term. The hosts have had a positive start to the season, though, having managed to take points off both Stade Rennais and Olympique Lyon. They are currently in mid-table in these early stages, with PSG in third, behind Angers and Clermont Foot.
It remains to be seen whether any of these three clubs manage to retain their hundred percent winning record heading into this third Matchday in Ligue 1, but Brest will certainly try to cause an upset that could serve as a confidence-booster in the weeks to come.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides in their enticing encounter in this northwest city of Brittany this Friday night.
Tactics & Team News
Brest are not smissing too many players, although there are slight doubts over the involvement of Haris Belkebla. The Algerian is vital to the team’s creative output in the final third, so coach Michel Der Zakarian will be keen on having back to full fitness.
Romain Faivre operated in the number ten role in the absence of Belkabla, but with the latter likely to return, Faivre may start in his preferred wider attacking role.
The attacking combination between him, Belkabla and Irvin Cardona could be extremely dangerous for the PSG defence, as the trio look to provide the support for lone striker Steve Mounie. The 26-year-old himself offers a lot of work-rate and might be a threat on the counter.
Another impact of Belkabla’s return could see Hugo Magnetti being replaced in central midfield, with Franck Honorat moving further on the right hand side. Belkabla could thus feature alongside Hianga’a Mbock, essentially forming a flexible 4-4-2 that can easily turn into a 4-2-3-1.
Defensively, Der Zakarian has no reason to make any changes. But the central defensive combination of Brendan Chardonnet and Lilian Brassier could be faced with a much more difficult task of keeping the PSG attack at bay. They will require maximum support from the full-backs in Ronael Pierre-Gabriel and Jere Uronen as the four defenders look to cover Marco Bizot in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Bizot; Pierre-Gabriel, Chardonnet, Brassier, Uronen; Honorat, Mbock, Belkebla, Faivre; Mounie, Cardona
Fans worldwide may have to wait a bit more in order to witness Lionel Messi make his debut for PSG. A recent report from Sky has claimed that the game against Brest on Friday might come too soon for the Argentine icon, who has had no pre-season match practice since winning the Copa America for his country.
As such, it will be his compatriot Mauro Icardi leading the line for Les Parisiens once again. Coach Mauricio Pochettino has no reason to make any changes in the attack, as Julian Draxler made quite an impression against Strasbourg. He should continue to feature alongside Kylian Mbappe and Icardi in the PSG frontline, with Pablo Sarabia serving as an alternative.
Counting down the days to Messi's PSG debut ⏳ pic.twitter.com/MkyQi7Z6ub
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 19, 2021
Pochettino’s 4-3-3 formation has worked well at PSG so far. The new signing Georginio Wijnaldum, in particular, offers variety thanks to his aggression that combines well alongside the robust Danilo and the more creative Ander Herrera.
Danilo didn’t actually start the last game but should be recalled this time around, at the expense of young prodigy Eric Ebimbe. The 20-year-old is one of many talented young players PSG have in their ranks and may feature on the bench this Friday.
In defence, the addition of Achraf Hakimi has worked like a charm. The Moroccan international has offered a lot of pace and attacking support from the right hand side, allowing PSG to become more influential in the final third.
Hakimi will be supported by the central defensive duo of Thilo Kehrer and Presnel Kimpembe, with Abdou Diallo retaining his place at left-back. Meanwhile, in goal, Gianluigi Donnarumma could soon replace Keylor Navas, although perhaps not this week as the Italian international had only arrived in Paris last week.
It won’t be surprising to see the likes of Neymar, Messi and Angel Di Maria on the bench, though, as they have all been training recently. Sergio Ramos, unfortunately, remains out with injury but may make his debut in the game against Reims at the end of the month or after the international break.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Diallo; Herrera, Danilo, Wijnaldum; Draxler, Icardi, Mbappe
- Brest are winless in their last 19 Ligue 1 games against PSG (D7 L12), losing their last seven, their worst runs against the same opponent in the top-flight. Only Angers and Metz (10 each) are currently on a worse run of losses against the same opponent in Ligue 1, each time against PSG.
- PSG are unbeaten in their last nine Ligue 1 games (W8 D1), the longest current unbeaten run in the league. PSG haven’t won five league games in a row since November 2020.
- Brest are winless in their last ten home league games against PSG, losing their last four. They have failed to score in seven of their last nine home Ligue 1 games against Paris.
- They are also winless in their last six league games, their worst run since their return to the top flight in 2019/20.
- Brest’s winless run of six home league games came after winning three of their first six in 2021.
Player to Watch
Achraf Hakimi is 22-years old and has already played:
At Real Madrid with Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale.
At Borussia Dortmund with Haaland, Sancho and Reus.
At Inter Milan with Lukaku and Martínez.
And now he will play at PSG with Mbappé, Neymar and Messi.
— The Football Arena (@thefootyarena) August 17, 2021
While there is certainly excitement over the potential involvement of Messi and Neymar, one player who is hoping to stamp his authority in this PSG side is Achraf Hakimi. Unlike most other new arrivals, the Moroccan international is actually vital to the club’s long-term future and has the potential to become the best full-back in Europe.
Hakimi has started the season well, notably scoring on his Ligue 1 debut against Troyes. He wasn’t as effective in the last game, but his ability to make marauding runs forward should be enough to cause all sorts of problems for the Brest defence this weekend.
Not to mention, the former Borussia Dortmund starlet may have the opportunity to link up with Messi, which is certainly an exciting prospect for PSG and quite a deadly one for the opposition. He is THT’s Player to Watch for this exciting encounter.
Brest 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Brest have a dismal record when it comes to playing against Paris and despite remaining solid in their first two matches against tough oppositions, they are likely to crumble under pressure on Friday. This mighty PSG frontline might indeed be too much for the hosts, who would want to avoid any sort of humiliation in front of their own fans. The Hard Tackle predicts a relatively comfortable 2-0 victory for PSG.