Paris Saint-Germain resume their Ligue 1 campaign on Friday when they take on Angers at Parc des Princes.
After heading into the international break with a shocking 2-0 defeat to Rennes, Paris Saint-Germain will be keen on picking themselves up as play hosts to Angers on Friday.
The Parisians are comprehensively leading the Ligue 1 table with 24 points in just matches, ahead of second-placed RC Lens by six points. But one would imagine that the defeat to Rennes might have broken the shackles for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who cannot afford to become complacent once again.
However, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager will also have one eye on the crucial Champions League encounter against RB Leipzig in midweek. It serves as an opportunity for the underdogs, Angers, to potentially cause an upset as their opponents look to juggle the rather trickery European schedule.
The visitors have enjoyed an excellent start to the campaign, securing 16 points in nine matches. It essentially means that a win could potentially help them overtake second-placed Lens and third-placed Nice by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures in Ligue 1.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial encounter at Parc des Princes this Friday.
Tactics & Team News
PSG are missing quite a few players heading into this game including Lionel Messi as well as pretty much the entire South American contingent owing to international duty. Meanwhile, this summer’s marquee signing Sergio Ramos is yet to return to team training either, making him unavailable for this clash.
— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) October 14, 2021
As such, Pochettino will have to make plenty of changes in this squad, with Thilo Kehrer, for one, likely to form the central defensive pairing alongside Presnel Kimpembe. Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes should serve as fullbacks, as usual, protecting Gianluigi Donnarumma in between the sticks.
In midfield, Gini Wijnaldum had publicly stated his disappointment towards lack of minutes at PSG this week. He will be hoping for a start in this game, particularly in the absence of Leandro Paredes.
The Dutchman should comprise the three-man PSG midfield alongside Marco Verratti and the in-form Idrissa Gueye. These three should provide the hosts with the ideal balance in the middle of the park, with Gueye, in particular, seeking to drive forward and attack the opposition.
Speaking of the attack, the PSG frontline will be entirely dependent on Kylian Mbappe due to the absence of Messi and Neymar. The Frenchman, though, should operate out wide, with Mauro Icardi and Rafhina forming the remainder of the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Mendes; Gueye, Verratti, Wijnaldum; Rafinha, Icardi, Mbappe
Angers head coach Gerald Baticle doesn’t have to deal with too many injury issues heading into this game and is likely to persist with the 3-4-1-2 formation that will look to minimise PSG’s effectivity going forward.
The presence of three central defenders in Vincent Manceau, Romain Thomas and captain Ismael Traore should be useful in keeping tabs on PSG’s front three. But the main onus will be on the wingbacks’ Jimmy Cabot and Enzo Ebosse to offer the additional solidity out wide, knowing both Mendes and Hakimi are bound to get marauding runs forward.
In midfield, Batista Mendy and Thomas Mangani are two reliable central midfielders that will hope to put pressure on the opposition ball-carriers. They are likely to be supported by the attack-minded Angelo Fulgini, although the 25-year-old will mostly be tasked with the responsibility of offering the creative essence in the final third.
Fulgini could be a threat from set-pieces as well, providing the supply for the two central strikers in Mohamed Ali-Cho and Sofiane Boufal, who is likely to operate in a withdrawn role, should Angers need any additional support in the second line of press.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Bernardoni; Manceau, Thomas, Traore; Cabot, Mangani, Mendy, Ebosse; Fulgini; Cho, Boufal
- PSG are unbeaten in their last 21 league games against Angers (W14 D7), their longest run without defeat against a single top-flight opponent. They have not lost against SCO since January 12th 1975.
- Angers have lost 60% of their Ligue 1 games against PSG (15/25), their second-highest such percentage against a top-flight opponent after Nantes (62% – 28/45).
- PSG have lost only once in their last 16 Ligue 1 games (W14 D1), but it was the most recent one, at Rennes on 3rd October. They have not lost twice in a row in the top-flight since September 2020.
- Angers have won twice in their last 14 away league games (D6 L6), winning at Metz in March and at Strasbourg in August.
- PSG are the only team yet to make a substitution before the 60th minute in their Ligue 1 games this season.
Player to Watch
Fresh from triumph in UEFA Nations League, Kylian Mbappe will be hoping to continue his good momentum when he returns to Parc des Princes this weekend. He could be important now more than ever as PSG look to deal without three of their other marquee forwards in Messi, Neymar and Di Maria.
The Frenchman has started his Ligue 1 campaign with four goals and three assists in nine matches. But he will be hoping to improve on that record and more importantly, gain some form ahead of a crucial Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig next week.
At the same time, the absence of key players in the attack could make life difficult for Mbappe to dominate this game, knowing Angers defenders will have the freedom to double down on him this weekend, essentially making him the one player worth keeping an eye on, in this important encounter.
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Angers
Angers are not a team to be taken lightly despite their poor record against PSG. They can be quite lethal on the counter-attack, which is coupled with their opponent’s personnel problems. However, do expect Pochettino’s men to remain resilient and churn out a rather comfortable 2-0, largely thanks to the sheer quality in the team.