PSG will progress to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League should they defeat Maccabi Haifa at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday

French champions PSG will be keen to guarantee their spot in the knockout stages of this season’s UEFA Champions League when they welcome Israeli giants Maccabi Haifa to the Parc des Princes.

Barak Bakhar’s side arrives in the French capital with just three points to show for their efforts. Despite going into matchday four as the bottom side, the Israelis have been impressive this season. Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica and Juventus were all pushed to the limit in the first three match days as they had to dig deep to get the better of Haifa.

The Israeli side finally got their just desserts when they comprehensively dismantled Juventus at home last time around to win 2-0. It saw them get off the mark in this season’s competition and keep alive hopes of qualifying for the Europa League at the very least.

PSG are the dominant side in every aspect but will face a buoyant Haifa side riding high on confidence. The Ligue 1 side are yet to taste defeat this season, and should they let their guard down, they could be privy to a massive upset.

The reverse fixture on Matchday 2 saw PSG come out 3-1 on top. However, they were given an almighty scare when Haifa took the lead in the 24th minute. The French side’s irresistible attack eventually turned the tide but it was far from an easy night out.

Both sides are yet to play out a 0-0 draw against each other and have much to play for on Tuesday. It promises to be an exciting game at the Parc des Princes.

The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Paris Saint-Germain

Christophe Galtier will be pleased with the return of several of his players following the weekend’s Ligue 1 fixture against Ajaccio. The absence of numerous stars saw the Frenchman do away with his 3-4-3 formation on the night, but the strength in depth saw the Parisians come away with another league win.

Sergio Ramos and Neymar will both be available for selection this week, handing PSG a massive boost at both ends of the pitch. Midfield maestro Marco Verratti will miss out after picking up his third booking of the season last time around against Benfica.

Presnel Kimpembe is back in training but is unlikely to be rushed back into the playing XI. He might have to settle for a spot on the bench. Nuno Mendes and Danilo Pereira are close to returning to training but look set to miss out on this game.

With Neymar back, PSG can once again deploy their effective 3-4-3 formation against Haifa. Gianluigi Donnarumma is sure to start in goal behind a back three of Nordi Mukiele, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos.

The impressive Fabian Ruiz looks likely to partner Vitinha in the middle of the park, giving the duo of Achraf Hakimi and Juan Bernat freedom to push forward on the flanks. Lionel Messi looks set to don the role of a number 10 once again, with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe leading the line.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Mukiele, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Vitinha, Ruiz, Bernat; Messi, Neymar, Mbappe

Maccabi Haifa

The Israeli side have shown little fear this season and are not afraid to take the game to their opponents. They ended their four-game winless streak away from home with a 3-2 victory over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at the weekend. They will be keen to keep the momentum going on the night.

Curiously, Haifa’s only point secured on French shores came against PSG in 1998. A lot has changed since then, but Barak Bakhar will hope that his side can go one better and inflict the French champions’ first defeat of the season.

Haifa have three major injury concerns going into the game. Winger Suf Podgoreanu, Dolev Haziza and Mahmoud Jaber are all out of contention. The visitors have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from and look set to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Josh Cohen should start in goal behind the back four of Daniel Sundgren, Dylan Batubinsika, Sean Goldberg, and Pierre Cornud. The trio of Neta Lavi and Mohammad Abu Fani will form the double pivot and will hope to take advantage of Verratti’s absence.

This protection in midfield should give the trio of Omer Atzili, Tjaronn Chery and Dean David the chance to push forward. Frantzdy Pierrot is likely to lead the line and get into the face of Marquinhos to hold up the ball and bring his fellow attackers into play. 

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cohen; Sundgren, Batubinsika, Goldberg, Cornud; Abu Fani, Lavi; Atzili, Chery, David; Pierrot

Key Stats

  • A win on the night will make Maccabi Haifa the first side from Israel to record consecutive wins in the UEFA Champions League.
  • Both teams have faced off against each other three times so far. Haifa and PSG have won one game each, with the third ending in a stalemate.
  • Maccabi Haifa have travelled to France thrice in the UEFA Champions League and are yet to win any of their trips. Curiously the lone game where they avoided defeat was against PSG in 1998.
  • PSG have lost just one of their last 32 home games in the UEFA Champions League.
  • PSG are among eight teams in this season’s UEFA Champions League who are yet to keep a clean sheet.

Player to Watch

Tjaronn Chery

Embed from Getty Images

The Suriname veteran has been impressive for Maccabi Haifa in this season’s UEFA Champions League and is likely to play a key role for them at the Parc des Princes this week.

With six goals and three assists in 18 games this season, the 34-year-old is the glue that makes Haifa’s attack tick. He scored against PSG in the reverse fixture and caused Juventus plenty of issues over their two games.

Chery is also a deft hand on set pieces and could hit PSG hard should they give away any cheap free-kicks in dangerous areas. The midfielder has built up a solid rapport with right-winger Omer Atzili. The duo could have some joy against the defensively suspect Juan Bernat and hit PSG during one of the Spaniard’s forward forays.


PSG 3-1 Maccabi Haifa

The Israeli side are likely to pose PSG problems, especially on the counter. In this aspect, the return of Sergio Ramos will be a boon for Galtier and co. However, Neymar’s return reunites the vaunted Parisian attack, and their clinical impact in front of the goal should make the difference on the night. PSG will be made to sweat, but should they play to their strengths, the home side should come away with a win by two goals.

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