Josh Mart takes the chance to preview Paris Saint Germain’s first Champions League home match of the season, against European heavyweights, Bayern Munich. Both sides started the campaign well with PSG thumping Celtic 5-0 in Glasgow, whereas Bayern defeated Belgian side Anderlecht 3-0 at the Allianz Arena. This is also the first meeting between the two sides in this competition since 2000.
Despite both sides beginning the domestic and continental campaigns well, all is not as rosy as it appears for either of the two clubs. PSG have been in ‘crisis’ in recent weeks as a huge argument broke out between new ‘Galactico’ signing Neymar and one of the Qatari’s first major investments, Edinson Cavani, over the taking of set plays in a Ligue 1 encounter against Lyon earlier in the month.
The argument continued and almost became physical in the changing rooms after the match was over, and the plot has taken an even more disturbing twist as Spanish newspaper ‘El Pais’ reported recently that Cavani had been offered a €1m ‘sweetener’ to allow Neymar set piece responsibilities. Neymar was left out of the Paris outfit’s 0-0 draw at Montpellier at the weekend.
Bayern have also had a trouble this season, although nothing as soap opera like as Wednesday night’s opponents. Carlo Ancelotti and his players have been under increasing pressure from the media and supporters alike, after some rather stale and disappointing performances this season.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Wolfsburg was another example of this as the Bavarian giants even threw away a 2-0 half time lead, something they haven’t done in the Bundesliga in 6 years. The second goal came about due to a huge error of judgement from stand-in goalkeeper Sven Ulreich who is deputising for the injured Manuel Neuer.
Team News and Tactics
PSG head coach Unai Emery has a lot of options to choose from ahead of this one, and also a few tricky decisions due to the current state of things at the club. Javier Pastore is ruled out with injury though, and Angel Di Maria may have to make do with a spot on the bench for this one.
With this in mind I expect PSG to line up in their typical 4-3-3 formation, which can change into a 4-2-3-1 when defending. Areola looks set to keep his place in goals ahead of Kevin Trapp, although it wouldn’t be a huge shock for if Trapp started. The back four looks likely to consist of the Brazilian trio of Dani Alves (RB) Marquinhos and Thiago Silva (CB) as well as French left back Layvin Kurzawa ahead of summer signing Yuri.
The midfield three should consist of Thiago Motta, Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti as Emery will probably opt for the experience and defensive qualities of Motta ahead of the much more adventurous Lo Celso or Julian Draxler. It is expected that Neymar will make his return and start on the left of the front three, joining Cavani and Mbappé in a lethal looking strike force. It will be interesting to see how Cavani and Neymar behave with each other during this one.
Bayern also have a few injury concerns with Juan Bernat ruled out and Ancelotti has doubts over the fitness of Alaba and Thiago, although the latter is expected to be fit to play. With this in mind, I expect Bayern to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation with a back four of Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels and Rafinha playing in front of Sven Ulreich.
Bayern will hope to have Thiago pairing Arturo Vidal, but if not, Sebastian Rudy could come in. James was rested against Wolfsburg at the weekend but he is likely to start in the number 10 role, flanked by Ribery to his left and Robben to his right. Star striker Robert Lewandowski is certain to start in the lone strikers position.
Kylian Mbappé (PSG) –Mbappé was one of the most sort after players on the market after his sensational season at Monaco last year, with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City heavily linked.Mbappé opted to stay in France and join PSG on an initial season loan with a huge obligatory option to buy next summer. He has lightning pace, something which Bayern don’t particularly have, especially at the back and Mbappé will be keen to isolate Rafinha 1v1. His finishing ability is fantastic too, so don’t be surprised by a Mbappé goal in this one.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern) – Lewandowski is a fantastic striker with phenomenal finishing ability as well as brilliant control and a tremendous knack of being in the right place at the right time. He is seemingly always on the scoresheet for club and country and PSG will have to be guarded against this at the Parc des Princes.
I think this will be a tough match for PSG but they have such a fantastic home record in this competition and will look to extend that here. It would be a great statement of intent for Les Parisiens, as they would sit 3 points clear of Bayern with a double header against Anderlecht to come. One thing is for sure, it promises to be a fantastic night of football in Paris on Wednesday.