Lionel Messi is set to make his Paris Saint-Germain debut as they take on Reims on Sunday, at Stade Auguste-Delaune.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United this week has rocked the footballing world but not for the first time summer. And, on Sunday, his closest adversary, Lionel Messi is expected to make the headlines again as he looks ser to make his debut for Paris Saint-Germain in the game against Reims, at Stade Auguste-Delaune.
The Argentine footballing icon has failed to make the squad in any of the two matches since confirming his move to PSG earlier this month. But after training with the team for a couple of weeks he is now ready to make his debut, as PSG look for a fourth consecutive win in Ligue 1 this weekend.
The French giants have started the new season with three back-to-back wins over Troyes, RC Strasbourg and Brest. However, they are expecting a tougher test against a Reims side that has remained unbeaten in their first three matches so far.
Although the hosts are yet to secure a single win, they have managed to prevent OGC Nice and last season’s surprise package, Metz, from sealing all three points away from home. Unfortunately, Les Rouges et Blancs had lost both their matches against PSG last term, but there is hope as new coach Oscar Garcia looks to make an early statement by causing the first real upset of the campaign.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of this exciting Ligue 1 contest in Reims this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Reims head coach Garcia is missing a few key players in the squad with injuries, including Fraser Hornby, Moussa Doumbia, Anastasios Donis and most recently, Arber Zeneli, whose ACL injury at the start of the campaign means he could potentially miss out on the entirety of the 2021/22 campaign.
— Stade de Reims (@StadeDeReims) August 28, 2021
From a tactical perspective, Garcia has favoured a wing-back system since coming in at Reims. He is unlikely to make any changes to that setup, though the wing-backs in Thomas Foket and Ghislain Konan could be asked to operate in a more defensive role.
Indeed, they could be critical in aiding the three centre-backs Andreaw Gravillon, Yunis Abdelhamid and Wout Faes, with Reims likely to defend in numbers, frustrating the opposition with their deep line of defence. Nevertheless, Predrag Rajkovic needs to remain vigilant in goal, knowing he could have a long evening dealing with the mighty PSG frontline.
The same applies to the midfield duo of Moreto Cassama and Marshall Munetsi, with the latter likely to play a vital role in screening the backline. He might drop in as an auxiliary centre-back during attacking or build-up phases, with the two wingbacks pushing forward.
As for the attack, El Bilal Toure should lead the line as usual, with the support of Ilan Kebbal and Mathieu Cafaro. Garcia, though, always has the option of deploying Nathanael Mbuku, who is a younger alternative for Kebbal.
Probable Lineup (5-2-3): Rajkovic; Foket, Gravillon, Faes, Abdelhamid, Konan; Cassama, Munetsi; Cafaro, Kebbal; Toure
Paris Saint-Germain will be boosted by the return of a host of key players for this Reims game. While the spotlight is certainly on new signing Lionel Messi, Neymar is back in contention to start, along with Leandro Paredes.
Furthermore, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed the availability of Kylian Mbappe, despite rumours linking him with a move to Real Madrid. “He is doing well and prepared for tomorrow’s game,” confirmed Pochettino, so we are expecting the Frenchman to spearhead the PSG attack, with the support of Messi and Neymar out wide.
🎙 Mauricio Pochettino: "Kylian está muy bien, preparando el partido de mañana." 🔴🔵
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_espanol) August 28, 2021
It is the dream trio many were anticipating after the addition of Messi. However, with Mbappe’s future constantly under doubt, it may not last long and this might actually be the first and the last time we see these three players playing together.
In midfield, Idrissa Gueye could get the nod ahead of Danilo while new signing Georginio Wijnaldum should feature alongside Marco Verratti, thus completing PSG’s three-man midfield setup that offers a perfect balance of power, trickery and technical prowess.
Their work rate and influence in the middle of the park will be crucial in helping the visitors dominate this game, though Reims won’t make it easy, perhaps even deploying a low defensive block that forces them to create something rather than spraying long passes in behind the backline for Mbappe or Neymar to chase.
Defensively, PSG are still without Sergio Ramos while another new signing in Gianluigi Donnarumma may once again have to settle for a place on the bench, as Keylor Navas continues to start in between the sticks for Les Parisiens.
Marquinhos, though, is in contention to return to the starting eleven, perhaps even replacing Thilo Kehrer at centre-back. He could thus renew his central defensive partnership with Presnel Kimpembe, though they will have their work cut out against a sharp attacking Reims side that is more than capable of scoring one or two goals from the counter.
Elsewhere, Achraf Hakimi remains a guaranteed starter at right-back. His attacking prowess should enable him to make marauding runs forward, whereas the left-back Abdou Diallo should operate in a more conservative role, hoping to aid the centre-backs whenever required.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Verratti, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
- Reims have lost 62% of their Ligue 1 games against PSG in the 21st century (8/13), with three wins and two draws. They have lost their last two encounters against Les Parisien in the top-flight but have never lost three in a row.
- PSG have scored exactly four goals in three of their last six Ligue 1 games against Reims.
- Reims have not won any of their last 11 Ligue 1 games, the longest current winless run in the top-flight and their longest one since going 15 games without a win between October 2012 and February 2013.
- Paris Saint-Germain won their first three games of a Ligue 1 campaign and could win four in a row for the sixth time in their history and the first time since the 2018/19 season.
- PSG have won each of their last five Ligue 1 games, the longest current winning run in the top-flight and their longest one since November 2020 (eight in a row).
Player to Watch
ESA ZURDA 🥰 pic.twitter.com/HQg14ZtQ1D
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_espanol) August 27, 2021
Lionel Messi is unquestionably the one player worth keeping an eye on in this exciting Ligue 1 contest between Paris Saint-Germain and Stade Reims. After attracting all the headlines by leaving FC Barcelona, the little magician from Rosario is poised to make his debut for Les Parisiens, as he hopes to start this new chapter on a positive note.
The prospect of seeing Messi once again play alongside Neymar is exciting enough for the majority of football fans across Europe. But the moment will be made even better by the presence of other talented individuals like Wijnaldum, Verratti, Mbappe and Hakimi.
Hakimi, in particular, will be an important asset for Messi as his offensive contribution from the right-hand side should enable the Argentine more freedom, especially in central areas of the pitch. He and the Moroccan creating a formidable partnership out wide could go a long way in helping PSG emerge as a force to be reckoned with.
Stade Reims 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain have been in excellent form in these early parts of the campaign and things can only get better, with a majority of their star players set to return this weekend. Reims, in many ways, could turn out to be a victim of their opposition’s undisputed quality, so we are expecting the visitors to secure a comfortable 3-0 victory this weekend.