Paris Saint-Germain are aiming for their ninth consecutive win in Ligue 1 as they take on Rennes on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain secured a statement win this midweek by beating Manchester City 2-0 on their home turf. It wasn’t a clinical performance, but it did suggest the level of quality they possess, which has also been backed up by their performances in Ligue 1 so far this campaign.
Indeed, PSG are currently at the top of the league table with eight back-to-back wins. They could extend that record to nine games when they lock horns with Rennes on Sunday, at Stade de la Route de Lorient.
The visitors are heading into this matchday on the back of a six-point lead over second-placed Lens, who have already played an additional game. As such, Les Parisiens will have the opportunity to extend their lead to nine points, which is quite considerable given that we are only two months into the new campaign.
Their weekend opponent, Rennes, though, are no pushovers. The Ligue 1 giants haven’t had the best of starts to the season with just nine points in eight matches, but they do possess enough quality to cause an upset and become the first team to put an end to PSG’s run of eight victories in a row.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial matchup in Ligue this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Given the difficult start to the campaign, Rennes need to find answers quick. One of their main issues is the lack of productivity in the final third. The injuries to Jeremy Doku and influential playmaker Lovro Majer certainly haven’t helped, with Sehrou Guirassy also struggling to find the back of the net consistently.
— Stade Rennais F.C. (@staderennais) October 2, 2021
Nevertheless, coach Bruno Genesio doesn’t have too many options, so the former Koln forward will continue to spearhead the Rennes attack, with assistance from the excellent Gaetan Laborde and the club’s top scorer this season, Kamaldeen Sulemana, from the wide areas of the pitch.
Genesio should also opt for the strongest possible options in midfield. That means Baptiste Santamaria will be in charge of the second line of press, alongside Flavien Tait and Benjamin Bourigeaud as they look to disrupt PSG’s flow in midfield and hurry their ball-carriers in the middle of the park.
Loic Bade was sent off in midweek’s UEFA Europa Conference League game against Vitesse. But the youngster is available for selection in this league outing. He should continue in central defence, alongside Nayef Aguerd, with Birger Meling and captain Hamari Traore operating in the full-back positions.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Gomis; Traore, Bade, Aguerd, Meling; Bourigeaud, Santamaria, Tait; Laborde, Guirassy, Sulemana
Mauricio Pochettino will have to be careful with his team selection, especially in the offensive department this weekend. Star player Lionel Messi recovered from an injury to star in the victory over Manchester City this midweek but is likely to be rested against Rennes, thus paving the way for Angel Di Maria to return to the squad.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 1, 2021
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, though, should retain their respective places in the starting eleven. The two have had a difficult start in regards to their link-up play and that needs to improve if PSG are to have any chances of doing well in the Champions League this season.
Things get a lot more interesting in the midfield unit. Marco Verratti was the club’s star performer in the game against Manchester City. But the Italian, too, could be rested in order to avoid further layoffs. It should pave the way for Leandro Paredes to come back into the side, forming PSG’s second line of press alongside Gini Wijnaldum and the in-form Idrissa Gueye.
Defensively, PSG are missing out on Sergio Ramos due to lack of fitness. The veteran centre-back isn’t likely to return before the international break, which means the visitors should continue with the central defensive duo of Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe.
In fact, Abdou Diallo might be the only defensive change from the side that featured against Man City. The former Dortmund star will replace Nuno Mendes at left-back, thus providing more balance to the PSG backline, especially with Achraf Hakimi bombarding forward on the opposite end.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Paredes, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar
- Only Lyon have beaten PSG more than Rennes in Ligue 1 since the beginning of the Qatar era in 2011/12.
- Rennes have won just one of their last ten home games against PSG in Ligue 1, having won seven of the previous 10.
- PSG have won each of their first eight Ligue 1 games this season. This is only the third time in the history of the top-flight that a team has posted 100% wins at this stage of a season after PSG in 2018/19 (14 wins) and Olympique Lillois in 1936/37 (8 wins).
- Rennes have won just one of their last five Ligue 1 games, which was a 6-0 victory over newly-promoted Clermont Foot.
- Paris Saint-Germain have won ten consecutive Ligue 1 games, for the first time since 14 straight wins during Thomas Tuchel’s debut season in August-November 2018. This is the longest ongoing such run in the division.
Player to Watch
PSG goals this season:
Messi + Neymar + Mbappe = 5 goals
Idrissa Gueye + Ander Herrera = 8 goals pic.twitter.com/1WKWriILfv
— Goal (@goal) September 28, 2021
Amid all the superstars available in the PSG camp, it is Idrissa Gueye, who has arguably been the club’s best player this season. The exciting midfielder already has three league goals to his name while he also scored the all-important opener in the crunch fixture against Manchester City this midweek.
Gueye has truly made an impression with his ability to control the game and drive forward with the ball. The former Evertonian is also a threat from long-range, making him one of the most dangerous players on the pitch for PSG. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the midfielder can maintain his excellent run of form and sign off for the international break on a positive note, preferably with a goal to help his side continue their winning record in Ligue 1.
Rennes 0-2 PSG
Rennes are not an opposition to be taken lightly and harbour a relatively impressive record against PSG. But they have had problems finding their feet this season despite some high-profile signings. As such, we expect them to struggle in front of the goal whereas the offensive quality of PSG may overpower their defence that has conceded silly goals this season.