Paris Saint-Germain opens their Champions League campaign at the Jan-Breydel-Stadion in Belgium when they face Group A opponents Club Brugge.
Club Brugge would have hoped of playing in a group that looks less daunting than the one they currently find themselves in. Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig and Manchester City are their fellow opponents, which makes it a challenging prospect to finish third, let alone in the top two.
Despite the Belgian side’s ambition-driven attitude, they will be coming up against two teams in Group A that are most desperate to win the Champions League. At the same time, Leipzig always fight to stay relevant in the competition. Club Brugge will nevertheless fight for their chances, and what better start than to beat one of the favourites this season in PSG.
Club Brugge, under Philippe Clement, ensured automatic qualification into the group stages after winning their 17th Belgian Pro League title. However, they have failed to make it out of the group stages eight times in a row now. Looking at the group, it seems difficult, but they will give their best to change their past.
PSG President Nasser El-Khelafi would be hoping his team start the competition opener with a bang, as he harbours an ambition to win the competition this season. After near misses in the last two editions, Paris Saint-Germain will go all guns blazing this season, after some masterful transfer additions in the summer.
All eyes will be on the star trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and the summer acquisition Lionel Messi. The latter’s transfer caused a worldwide frenzy while tipping the Parisians to win the elusive European crown finally. Furthermore, full-back Achraf Hakimi, Gini Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos bring further hope to their quest.
PSG are unlikely to take anything for granted given the quality of the opposition in Group A. Manchester City, and RB Leipzig are equally big threats that could scupper their chance to qualify from the group. Mauricio Pochettino will be wary of the consequences of playing in the Europa League in the second half of the season and would certainly want his galaxy of stars to show their mettle on the field and take charge of the group.
Team News & Tactics
Although there are a few injury issues to key players, Philippe Clement does not have suspensions to deal with. Eder Balanta hobbled off against Oostende over the weekend with a reported hip flexor strain and should be unavailable against the Parisians.
Former Brighton attacker Jose Izquierdo remains out of contention with a knee injury, while Aston Villa loanee Wesley is still short of match fitness to participate in this midweek clash.
Mats Rits is expected to replace Balanta in the lineup, while Clement could call upon the services of experienced striker Bas Dost to lead the line. However, if the manager feels Dost might not be the right choice, he can include Charles De Ketelaere in his place.
Clement is expected to field an attacking lineup in a 4-3-3 shape. Rits will play at the base of midfield, with support from Hans Vanaken and Ruud Vormer on either side. The back-four is likely to be unchanged from the previous league fixture, with former Liverpool star Simon Mignolet taking charge between the post.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Mata, Mechele, N’Soki, Sobol; Vormer, Rits, Vanaken; Sowah, Ketelaere, Lang
Mauricio Pochettino will be missing a host of stars through injuries and suspensions. Angel Di Maria and Idrisa Gueye remain suspended following their red cards against Manchester City in last season’s semi-finals. Layvin Kurzawa, midfielder Marco Verratti and summer signing Sergio Ramos will not make it to the squad as they still recover from their fitness problems.
Those absentees are unlikely to make a dent in Pochettino’s plans for the game, as PSG have more than enough quality cover to offset those missing stars. The defence will remain unchanged from recent fixtures, with Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos taking central roles.
Summer signing Achraf Hakimi and Abdou Diallo are expected to be PSG’s full-back options. New arrival Nuno Mendes will be pushing for a start, and ideally, these are games where the manager could probably afford to experiment. However, Pochettino will likely retain Diallo over the Portuguese youngster.
PSG fans will likely get the first glimpse of their new lethal front three comprising Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Messi. Pochettino will be hoping the trio get their understanding going, for they have bigger challenges ahead.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Herrera, Paredes, Wijnaldum; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
- PSG have lost their last three games in the Champions League
- PSG and Brugge last met in the 2019/20 season, with the Parisians winning both the ties.
- Club Brugge have not progressed from the group stage in their last eight attempts.
- Club Brugge only have two wins from the last twelve games in the Champions League.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Club Brugge’s last six Champions League games.
Player to Watch
Having played in Ligue 1 already since his high profile move from Barcelona, PSG will hope Messi shines on his full debut for the club. The stage might be perfectly set against an opponent like Brugge to kickstart the season properly; the Argentine will hope his partnership with old friend Neymar and generational sensation Mbappe kicks on.
This will also be the first time the superstar will be playing alongside the aforementioned duo, and it will only delight the fans if Messi ends up on the scoresheet. The former Barcelona star is certainly the player to watch, as he would be hoping to form a lethal partnership with the other attackers for the rest of the season.
Club Brugge 0-4 Paris Saint-Germain
Club Brugge may not have a chance against their formidable opponents, as they could be set to endure another heartbreaking season in the Champions League. As the French side hopes to get a stronghold in Group A, PSG are the overwhelming favourites in this clash.
Expect plenty of goals to be scored from the Parisians, as the lethal new front three could run riot against their Belgian opponents. Although that may not be the case, Brugge will be hoping for lapses in the French side’s defence, as PSG aim to hold on for a clean sheet.