Paris Saint-Germain will aim to move one step closer towards securing the Ligue 1 title when they take on AS Monaco on Sunday afternoon.
Eliminated from both Coupe de France and the UEFA Champions League, the remainder of Paris Saint-Germain’s season will be about reclaiming the Ligue 1 title and restoring their pride ahead of a massive summer overhaul.
With 65 points on the board, PSG already have a sizable 15-point lead at the top of the table. They have not quite been in imperious touch in 2022 so far, but with just ten games left to play, it is perhaps safe to assume that the Ligue 1 title race is all but over.
While PSG can afford to slip up, their upcoming game against AS Monaco could be crucial for coach Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has received fierce criticism for being unable to beat the top teams in France, having dropped points against the likes of Marseille, Nice, Stade Rennais and Lyon.
Monaco, meanwhile, face an uphill task to finish inside the top five and qualify for Europe next season. They are currently sixth in the league on 41 points, six points adrift of fifth-placed FC Strasbourg. A win is imperative if they are to make a push for Europe late in the season.
Les Monegasques succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to PSG the last time these two sides faced each other. But AS Monaco may feel a bit more confident on their own turf and under new manager Philippe Clement, who was brought in to replace Niko Kovac during the first week of January.
Team News & Tactics
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AS Monaco have Cesc Fabregas and Krepin Diatta out due to injury, while Vanderson is likely to miss out due to COVID-19. But on a positive note, Jean Lucas could be back in contention after returning from his suspension.
Lucas is an option to form the double-pivot of the AS Monaco midfield alongside Aurelien Tchouameni. But we expect Youssouf Fofana to get the nod ahead of the Brazilian, with wide attackers Sofiane Diop and Gelson Martins completing the second line of press for the hosts.
Tactically, coach Clement is likely to deploy a 4-4-2 that could operate narrowly and offer very little space to make the transition from defence to attack. But it will require a lot of work-rate from the attackers, especially the front two Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder, who will need to pressurise the PSG centre-backs.
Defensively, Vanderson’s absence through COVID-19 could pave the way for Ruben Aguilar to feature at right-back. There should be no other change to this Monaco setup, with the hosts hoping to put a leash on the PSG attack with their two banks of four covering Alexander Nubel in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Nubel; Aguilar, Disasi, Badiashile, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Tchouameni, Diop; Ben Yedder, Volland
Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be boosted by Marco Verratti’s return from suspension. Ander Herrera is available as well after returning to training.
Leo Messi not in training for the second day in a row due to illness. Unlikely that he will play vs AS Monaco tomorrow.
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Verratti is expected to replace Georginio Wijnaldum, partnering with Danilo Pereira and Leandro Paredes in the PSG midfield. The Italian is set to add the much-needed creative output in the middle of the park, which could go a long way in helping the visitors create chances in the final third.
Sergio Ramos and Juan Bernat, meanwhile, are both doubts heading into this contest. As such, we are not expecting any changes in defence, with Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe likely to form the heart of the four-man backline, partnered by the wide defensive players in Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes.
As for the attack, Angel Di Maria has been ruled out due to his hamstring injury. Lionel Messi remains a doubt as well after missing training due to illness. There is a chance the Argentine could start on the bench, with Julian Draxler likely to occupy his role out wide after being called up to the German national team by Hansi Flick.
Draxler and Neymar may occupy the wide attacking roles, hoping to offer the supply for the main number nine Kylian Mbappe. It will be a glorious opportunity for Draxler to prove himself after yet another injury-laden campaign.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Paredes, Danilo, Verratti; Draxler, Mbappe, Neymar
- AS Monaco have won the most games against PSG in Ligue 1, winning 43 of their 91 meetings against the Parisian juggernaut.
- AS Monaco have won only one of their last five league games after winning five of their previous eight.
- PSG are 15 points clear of their nearest pursuers (Marseille) after 28 league games, the third biggest gap between the top two at this stage in the modern era (three points awarded for a win) behind themselves in 2015/16 (23) and 2018/19 (20).
- Monaco have lost just once in their last 11 league games at home, but that was the previous game against Stade Reims at the end of last month.
- Paris Saint-Germain have won just three of their last 10 Ligue 1 away games, losing their most recent two on the road – a first in a single season since April 2019.
Player to Watch
Lionel Messi and Neymar were booed by their own supporters during PSG's 3-0 win against Bordeaux 😳
But why exactly were they booed?
— GOAL News (@GoalNews) March 14, 2022
PSG fans raised many eyebrows when they jeered Neymar in the home game against Bordeaux last time out. The Brazilian, though, turned the whistles into applause by producing a rather impressive attacking display, scoring PSG’s second goal in the 3-0 victory at Parc des Princes.
With doubts lingering over the involvement of Messi, Neymar could once again become a key player for PSG as they attempt to break through the AS Monaco defence this weekend.
The charismatic forward can be a danger on the left flank due to his immense technical prowess. His ability to drift inside and test the goalkeeper should also pile pressure on the relatively young central defensive pairing of AS Monaco. It will also be interesting to see how Neymar links up with Mbappe, especially if Messi starts on the bench.
AS Monaco 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain
With just three wins in their last ten matches, Paris Saint-Germain have a dismal record away from home in Ligue 1. They have not been able to dominate teams on away turfs, lacking in creativity and defensive organisation. It was certainly the case during their last defeat to Nice earlier in the month.
However, Les Parisiens remain the undisputed favourites to seal a win against a Monaco side that is sliding down in the league table after a promising start under Clement. The hosts have made many defensive errors in recent weeks, with the confidence evidently low among the camp. It could ultimately see them stumble to a 2-0 defeat in front of their home supporters this weekend.