Paris Saint-Germain are looking to maintain their hundred percent winning record in Ligue 1 as they take on Metz on Wednesday.
This past week hasn’t been a good one for Paris Saint-Germain. After being held to a goalless draw by Club Brugge, they narrowly survived a scare against Olympique Lyon, managing to seal all three points thanks to a late winner from Mauro Icardi. The win helped Mauricio Pochettino’s side maintain their hundred percent winning record after six games into the new season.
As a result, the French giants are comfortably leading the Ligue 1 table with a five-point advantage over second-placed Marseille. Les Parisien could now potentially improve on that record when they lock horns with Metz at Stade Saint-Symphorien on Wednesday.
It is the easiest challenge Pochettino could possibly expect ahead of his side’s important league encounter against Montpellier and the following UEFA Champions League affair with Manchester City next week.
Indeed, the hosts Metz have been arguably the worst-performing team in Ligue 1 this season and are languishing at the bottom of the league table with three points from six matches. All three of their losses this term have come in the last three consecutive matches, so they aren’t in the best of rhythm either heading into his home encounter this midweek.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial Ligue 1 match-up at Stade Saint-Symphorien on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
Metz boss Frederic Antonetti is missing out on the services of Thomas Delaine and Kevin N’Doram. But to his fortune, the likes of Farid Boulaya, Sofiane Alakouch and Matthieu Udol have made the squad despite struggling with fitness issues recently.
#FCMPSG [ 𝔾𝕣𝕠𝕦𝕡𝕖 ]
— Fc Metz ☨ (@FCMetz) September 21, 2021
Boualaya is an essential part of Metz’s creative department and his return to the starting eleven could serve as a massive boost for the club. The 28-year-old is expected to operate in the attacking midfield position alongside Lamine Gueye, as Antonetti opts for a more traditional setup that focuses on counter-attacks.
The offensive combination of Ibrahima Niane, Boulaya and Gueye, to that end, could be an ideal weapon on the break. They are set to be further aided by the two wingbacks in Pape Yade and the highly talented Fabien Centonze.
In midfield, Antonetti should opt for the talented duo of Habib Maiga and Pape Sarr, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. The youngster hasn’t had a good start to the season but a solid performance against PSG could give him the much-needed confidence.
Sarr and Maiga will largely be screening the three-man backline consisting of Udol, Kiki Kouyate and captain Dylan Bronn, with Alexandre Oukidja starting in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Oukidja; Udol, Kouyate, Bronn; Centonze, Sarr, Maiga, Yade; Boulaya, Gueye; Niane
Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed that Lionel Messi is set to miss out after picking up a knock in the game against Lyon, joining Marco Verratti on the sidelines. His absence will be a major blow for a side that has evidently struggled despite their perfect record in the league.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 21, 2021
Nevertheless, Messi missing out should compel Mauricio Pochettino to start with Achraf Hakimi at right-back. The former Dortmund starlet can offer the extra oomph down the right-hand side, allowing Angel Di Maria to play his natural game of drifting in centrally.
Neymar should continue on the opposite flank, with Nuno Mendes in the defensive position. But as for the vacant number ten position, there could be a rare start for Rafinha as Pochettino considers the weekend game against Montpellier. It will be an excellent opportunity for the Brazilian to showcase his talents, as he looks to create chances for Mauro Icardi upfront.
In midfield, Georginio Wijnaldum will be pushing for a start. His creative output could be useful against an opposition that is likely to defend deep in their lines. The Dutchman will thus form the double-pivot alongside Idrissa Gueye, whose passing could be essential as PSG look to dominate the entire game.
Defensively, Sergio Ramos is nearing his return to full fitness, but Wednesday’s game against Metz might come a bit too soon for the former Real Madrid captain. As such, both Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe should continue to form the central defensive partnership, covering Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Rafinha, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Di Maria, Icardi, Neymar
- Metz have lost their last 10 Ligue 1 games against PSG, their longest run against a single opponent in the top-flight. The last time they didn’t lose to Les Parisien was back in August 2007.
- PSG have won their first six games of the season in Ligue 1. Only four teams have previously managed seven in a row in the top-flight; Olympique Lille in 1936/37, Lille in 1949/50 and PSG in 2018/19.
- Metz have lost 42% of their Ligue 1 home games against PSG. That is their worst rate against any opponent they have faced at least 10 times at home in the top-flight.
- Metz are winless in their first six games of a Ligue 1 campaign for the first time since 2007/08. They were relegated at the end of that season.
- Metz are winless in their last 11 home Ligue 1 games. This is their worst run at home in the top-flight.
Player to Watch
Neymar has fallen off the radar once again after a slow start to the campaign that has attracted criticism from across the footballing world. But with Kylian Mbappe battling fitness issues and Lionel Messi out injured, it will be his time to step up and make his presence felt at the heart of the PSG attack that will rely a lot on him to deliver the goods against Metz.
Tactically, Neymar’s ability to take on defenders could be critical against Metz, who are expected to defend deep. Moreover, his tendency to drift inside and attract defenders should open up valuable space for Mendes out wide. The Brazilian is also a threat from set-pieces, making him the biggest attacking weapon for PSG this midweek.
Metz 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
Despite the criticism and the absence of a few star players including Messi, Paris Saint-Germain are unlikely to be bothered by Metz, who are sulking at the bottom of the league table right now, with 13 goals conceded in the first six matches. In fact, we are expecting PSG to keep a clean sheet this midweek while Neymar could star in an important victory that is going to extend the hundred percent winning record for Pochettino’s men.