Paris Saint-Germain will be aiming to put an end to their run of three winless games when they take on Montpellier on Saturday.
It has not been a smooth ride for Paris Saint-Germain ever since they secured the Ligue 1 title. PSG have failed to win their last three league matches, putting immense pressure on Mauricio Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo Araujo, with both running the risk of being sacked at the end of the season.
Despite reclaiming the Ligue 1 title from LOSC Lille, it has been a disappointing campaign for PSG. The Parisian juggernaut were knocked out early in the UEFA Champions League and Coupe de France despite all the new signings last summer.
Their inconsistency has put pressure on Pochettino, who has faced criticism for his inability to maximise the quality of players like Lionel Messi and Achraf Hakimi. With just a couple of games remaining until the end of the season, it will be imperative for the Argentine tactician to end the season on a positive note.
However, things won’t be made any easier by a Montpellier side coming on the back of an awful run of form. With 43 points on the board, La Paillade have secured their top-flight status in the league and won’t be dragged to a relegation fight in these final weeks of the season.
But they have not secured a win in their last seven matches, with their previous victory coming against Bordeaux back in March. They will be keen on putting an end to this wretched run of form when they take on the mighty PSG side at home this weekend.
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🎙 L'Avant-match de Sersou
— MHSC (@MontpellierHSC) May 12, 2022
Montpellier coach Olivier Dall’Oglio will have to deal with a few injury-related issues, with Teji Savanier, Remy Cabella, and Elye Wahi currently suffering from injury. First-choice goalkeeper Jonas Omlin remains out as well, thus paving the way for Dimitry Bertaud to continue in between the sticks.
Defensive stalwart Mamadou Sakho is a doubt heading into this affair. Pedro Mendes is more than prepared to fill in for the former Liverpool centre-back, should he get ruled out for this game. The 31-year-old could accompany Maxime Esteve and Nicolas Cozza in Dall’Oglio’s back three.
Given the quality of the opposition, though, the wing-backs could be asked to play in a defensive role. In that regard, Dall’Oglio could consider recalling Ambroise Oyongo at left-back ahead of the attack-minded Mihailo Ristic while Arnaud Souquet remains a guaranteed starter at right wing-back.
In midfield, the Jordan Ferri is back in contention. He should reclaim his role in the middle of the park, thus forcing the double-pivot alongside Joris Chotard, with Florent Mollet operating in the slightly attacking role.
Mollet and Ferri could play a key role in offering the transition and creativity in the final third. But the onus will be on the front two of Stephy Mavididi and Valere Germain to spearhead the Montpellier frontline, although the absence of top-goalscorer Wahi could serve as a massive blow for the home side.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Bertaud; Cozza, Esteve, Mendes; Souquet, Chotard, Ferri, Oyongo; Mollet; Mavididi, Germain
PSG will have to deal with the absence of Neymar and Presnel Kimpembe due to yellow card suspension, while Julian Draxler and Leandro Paredes have been ruled out for the rest of the season. The likes of Abdou Diallo and Mauro Icardi are unlikely to feature either.
Back to training☀️😃
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 11, 2022
Neymar’s absence could force Mauricio Pochettino to revert to a 3-4-3 setup that should incorporate three strikers. Angel Di Maria could be asked to operate out on the left in the absence of Neymar, with Lionel Messi occupying the opposite flank. The PSG frontline should be led by none other than Kylian Mbappe.
With PSG moving to a 3-4-3, Pochettino can only accommodate two midfielders. While Marco Verratti appears to be a guaranteed starter, the Argentine tactician could consider recalling Idrissa Gueye as Verratti’s midfield partner, ahead of Dina Ebimbe, Georginio Wijnaldum and Danilo Pereira.
Achraf Hakimi should occupy his preferred right wing-back role. His marauding runs forward could go a long way in offering width and creativity in the attacking third. Meanwhile, there could be a change in the opposite flank, with Juan Bernat likely to replace Nuno Mendes, who has committed costly defensive errors in recent weeks.
The return to a back three should pave the way for Sergio Ramos to make his way back into the starting lineup. With Kimpembe absent from this game, the onus will be on Thilo Kehrer to form the three-man backline alongside Ramos and Marquinhos, with Gianluigi Donnarumma starting in goal.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Kehrer, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Gueye, Verratti, Bernat; Messi, Mbappe, Di Maria
- Montpellier have lost seven of their last eight Ligue 1 games against Paris (W1), as many as in their first 23 against them in the 21st century (W4 D12).
- Montpellier have lost their last two Ligue 1 home games against Paris (1-3 each time), but have not lost three in a row against them in the top flight.
- Montpellier have picked up only 12 points in Ligue 1 in 2022 (W3 D3 L11), with only Bordeaux (10) doing worse over this period. No team have lost more encounters than MHSC in L1 since the start of the year (joint with Bordeaux).
- PSG have failed to win 12 Ligue 1 encounters this season (D8 L4), including the last three (D3). They have not failed on more occasions in a top-flight campaign since 2014-15 (14).
- PSG have won only two of their last 11 Ligue 1 games played when they were sure to be French champions (D6 L3), their last win dating to 18 May 2019 against Dijon (4-0).
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— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 12, 2022
There has been a lot of noise surrounding the future of Kylian Mbappe in recent weeks, with the entire footballing world waiting for a decision on his future. While a prolonged stay at PSG could offer him the riches, Real Madrid are ready to offer him the once in a lifetime opportunity of playing for the Spanish giants.
Mbappe, though, will hope to focus on the game ahead as he looks to end the campaign on a positive note. The Frenchman has been the deciding factor for PSG in their quest for the Ligue 1 title this term, with the attacker racking up 24 goals and 17 assists.
Mbappe’s electric pace, coupled with his link-up play and goalscoring prowess could be once again critical for PSG in their hopes to dismantle the Montpellier defence this weekend, although the young attacker did fail to score in the reverse fixture.
Montpellier 0-2 Paris Saint-Germian
With seven games without a win, Montpellier have been on a poor run of form. They have lacked the desired output in the attacking third, especially with their top goalscorer currently sidelined. They have not been in great shape defensively either, coming up against a side known for their attacking might.
Hence, we are expecting PSG to dominate this encounter and get back to winning ways as we move closer to the final matchday. Expect Mbappe and Di Maria to run the show while Messi will play a key role in creating goalscoring opportunities in the final third.