This Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain travel to Old Trafford to challenge Manchester United in the 5th round of the group phase of the Champions League, and for this clash, Thomas Tuchel can count on three returns. Indeed, Keylor Navas and Marquinhos, who were spared against Bordeaux (2-2), are well present, as is Thilo Kehrer.
On the other hand, Juan Bernat, Julian Draxler, Kays Ruiz, Pablo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi, still in the infirmary, are unavailable.
In the French capital, the devil is hiding in the details, so much so that the victory against Leipzig last Tuesday (1-0), the first of the three “finals” to be won to qualify for the last 16, has been relegated to the background.
Behind the positive result, the poor quality of the game leaves some worries, which accompany with shadows the move into the den of the “Red Devils”, winners in the first leg in Paris (2-1).
The team-mates of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé didn’t have the ideal preparation before another crucial meeting, admittedly, on an accounting level, they remain masters of their own destiny.
A full house in the last two days, with a final match against Basaksehir Istanbul on 8 December, will be synonymous with eighth place for the outgoing finalist, who vowed this summer to return to the European summits as soon as possible.
But Paris SG, who are paying for their two defeats in the first leg, have no margin either. A new defeat on Wednesday, combined with a victory of Leipzig in Turkey, would put them on the verge of a chasm, since the German club will only need one point against the English, who have already qualified, to push them out of the final phase.
An unimaginable scenario for the club, which has always managed to get out of the group trap since the arrival of its rich Qatari owners in 2011.
“Playing more as a team”
The recruitment of “Ney” and “Kyky” at a golden price in 2017, more than 400 M EUR between them, was to act as a guarantee to avoid this kind of sporting and financial accident. However, at the moment, the two superstars are going through a difficult period that embodies the fragility of their team.
The young French world champion remains out of eight C1 matches without scoring, an unprecedented series for this monster of statistics. He was also mute in the championship against Bordeaux, where he showed as much clumsiness as irritation.
“It’s a question of time. It’s going to happen,” reacted his coach Thomas Tuchel, when asked about the possibility that Mbappé, just one unit away from the symbolic 100-goal mark at club level, is thinking too much.
For the Brazilian, if he scored from the penalty spot against Leipzig and against Bordeaux, it is rather the lack of attacking animation that puts him at a disadvantage.
After the tasteless victory against Leipzig, Neymar himself deplored a “timid match” on Saturday, stressing that he had to “play more as a team, otherwise it (was) going to be difficult.
Cavani in good shape
More generally, Tuchel pointed out the lack of “attitude, effort and discipline” of his players, who conceded too many chances to the current third worst attack of the French championship… “I’m not worried about Manchester,” he said.
I’m not worried about Manchester,” he said. “I’m not worried about Manchester,” he said. With the 3-2 defeat at Monaco, followed by a series of lacklustre matches against Leipzig and Bordeaux, Paris has gone well below its usual standards.
If Mauro Icardi has withdrawn, the returns of Keylor Navas and Marquinhos, who were spared, or the presence of Marco Verratti (absent from the first leg) give him reason to hope for better at Old Trafford, where his team had shone during his last visit in February 2019, in the first leg of the Round of 16 (2-0).
But the Red Devils are still on two cards at home, behind closed doors, in C1 (5-0, and 4-1), and their last success in the championship, in Southampton on Saturday (3-2), has also awakened some memories.
Edinson Cavani, PSG’s all-time top scorer who left this summer, scored a double and a decisive pass to show that he was in good shape before the reunion, he who had been absent at the Parc des Princes. Enough to feed all the bad dreams for the Parisians.
An attacking trio Neymar, Mbappé Di Maria
A group that gives big clues about the starting composition prepared by the German tactician. With an offensive trio again composed of the 3 Parisian stars: Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria.
Kimpembe should normally be lined up in defence next to Marquinhos whereas Verratti could finally start after having entered the last minutes of the game against Leipzig.