Defending champions PSG will be keen to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games when they travel to the Stade Du Moustoir to take on Lorient

Defending champions PSG will take on a Lorient side that find themselves in the dizzying heights of the fourth spot in Ligue 1. They will now have the opportunity to make a mark against the best side in the country when Christophe Galtier’s side comes calling on Sunday.

Following Napoli’s loss to Liverpool on Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain are the only side in Europe’s top five leagues to taste defeat this season. Lorient, meanwhile, are coming off three league games without a win and faces potentially the toughest test in the French top flight as they look to get the season back on track.

Lorient, however, are yet to suffer consecutive losses in the league this season. It will be impressive should they still hold that statistic come Monday morning. With 24 goals this season, Lorient’s frontline has impressed, being limited to just one shutout all campaign.

The home side’s defence is similarly porous and will have their hands full against a free-flowing Paris Saint-Germain frontline. PSG have shown defensive frailties this season but are also on the lookout for a sixth successive away clean sheet. The stacks are certainly set against Lorient going into the game.

More so, PSG were pipped to the top spot in Group D in the UEFA Champions League by Benfica earlier in the week. Given how they struggled against Troyes last time around, it remains to be seen how Galtier’s side will respond on the night.

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

Team News & Tactics

Lorient

Regis Le Bris welcomed back star striker Terem Moffi last weekend against Nice. The 23-year-old was only on the field for the final 30 minutes, but the runout will have improved his match fitness and put him in better shape for the weekend.

Meanwhile, Laurent Abergel will be ruled out until after the World Cup in a major blow for the home side. The Lorient skipper’s absence has been very detrimental for his side, who have failed to win without him. Given that they won 80 per cent of the games with him playing, the difference is quite telling.

Samuel Loric will also miss out, but Le Bris has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from. Les Merlus will, in all likelihood, line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation that should give them added defensive depth against a side of PSG’s talents.

Yvon Mvogo should start in goal behind a back four of Gedeon Kalulu, Julien Laporte, Montassar Talbi and Vincent Le Goff. Bonke Innocent and the impressive Enzo Le Fee should form the double pivot and will be aiming to keep Marco Verratti quiet.

How well the duo can shackle the PSG playmaker could decide the flow of the game. It should provide a stable base for the trio of Dango Ouattara, Julien Ponceau and Theo Le Bris to get the ball upfront to Terem Moffi, who will be keen to start scoring again.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Mvogo; Kalulu, Laporte, Talbi, Le Goff; Innocent, Le Fee; Ouattara, Ponceau, Le Bris; Moffi

Paris Saint-Germain

PSG will welcome back a star of their own in Neymar after the Brazilian was forced to sit out on the trip to Juventus due to a suspension. However, it is not all good news as midfielder Fabian Ruiz is now potentially ruled out until after the World Cup with a muscular injury.

The Spaniard joins Presnel Kimpembe and Keylor Navas on the sidelines. Christophe Galtier will have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from. The Frenchman has opted for a 4-3-3 in recent weeks ahead of his trademark 3-4-3 that saw PSG score for fun earlier in the campaign.

The new formation offers his side better mobility and control and is the perfect foil for Lorient’s plans to gain control of the midfield. Gianluigi Donnarumma will be the last line of defence behind the back four of Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos and Nuno Mendes.

Marco Verratti will once again be the deep-lying playmaker and will dictate the flow of the game alongside Vitinha and Carlos Soler. Soler, in particular, has taken his game up a notch and will be tasked with carrying the ball forward and providing another body in attack. It will not come as a surprise if Vitinha and Verratti revert to a holding role, allowing the front four to push forward.

Neymar will start front alongside Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Of the three, Messi is likely to drop deeper and act as the number 10. Should they click, the PSG frontline should prove too much for most sides in Europe, let alone Lorient. 

Galtier expects a fast start from Lorient and is likely to be well-prepared for it. Once PSG kicks into second gear, they should take control of the game.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Ramos, Marquinhos, Mendes; Soler, Verratti, Vitinha; Messi, Neymar, Mbappe

Key Stats

  • Lorient have won just one of the last 15 matches between the sides in Ligue 1.
  • Lorient have a poor record against PSG at home and have won just one of the last 11 games at the Stade Du Moustoir against the champions.
  • A loss on the night will see Lorient lose consecutive Ligue 1 games for the first time this term.
  • PSG have won 35 points from their first 13 games in Ligue 1 this season. This is the third-best start to a season in terms of points, only behind LOSC Lille (36) in 1949/50 and PSG themselves (39) in 2018/19.
  • A clean sheet on the day will see PSG make it six shutouts in a row in away games in Ligue 1, a new club record.
  • Following Napoli’s loss to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League, PSG remains the only side in Europe’s top five leagues yet to taste defeat this season.

Player to Watch

Enzo Le Fee

Embed from Getty Images

The Frenchman is enjoying an excellent campaign and has proven to be a key cog in Lorient’s stellar start. With two goals and assists apiece from 13 games this season, he has impacted the game at both ends of the pitch and is a formidable player in the middle of the park.

Technically proficient, the 22-year-old faces a real test against Marco Verratti and could help shape the outcome of the game. Le Fee is an excellent passer and could take advantage of the gaps PSG leaves while attacking to carve out opportunities for the home side on the counter.

With several teams from England likely to be watching, Le Fee will be well served by putting in a solid performance that could see him take the game to PSG. Proving his mettle against the likes of Verratti and co will certainly be a transfer audition worth having.

Prediction

Lorient 1-3 PSG

As Galtier expects, Lorient will in all likelihood start the game quickly. Buoyed on by the home crowd, Les Merlus will be keen to draw first blood and are likely to get into PSG’s faces. However, the French champions have a newfound resolve, and their quality should shine through in the end. 

It will take something special from the Lorient defence to keep PSG’s front three quiet, and from what we have seen of them this season, it is a difficult task. It promises to be an exciting tie, with the visitors coming away with all three points.

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