PSG will look to get closer to defending the Ligue 1 title when they welcome Rennes to Parc des Princes on Sunday.

The 2022/23 Ligue 1 season will continue on Sunday, with Matchday 28 concluding this weekend. And reigning champions PSG will look to continue striding towards the title when they host Rennes at Parc des Princes on Sunday evening.

PSG bounced back from the disappointment of the defeat to Bayern Munich with a close win over Brest last weekend. But whileΒ Les Parisiens were dreadful in Europe, they have been imperious in domestic football. And Christophe Galtier’s men have won four Ligue 1 games in a row, stretching their lead atop the table to ten points.

On the other hand, Rennes will face an uphill task to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. They once seemed the favourites to clinch a top-three finish but have managed only two wins in six league outings. That run of results has dropped them to fifth on the table, while Bruno Genesio’s men have also bowed out of Europe.

The reverse fixture saw Rennes eking out a 1-0 win over PSG, with Hamari Traore scoring the only goal. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

PSG

Christophe Galtier has seen his squad’s injury woes escalate ahead of another game ahead of their game this weekend. Against Rennes on Sunday, the PSG manager might be bereft of the services of seven first-team players.

Presnel (Achilles) and Neymar (ankle) are out for the rest of the season due to their respective injuries. In addition, Galtier is sweating over the fitness of Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos, Nordi Mukiele, and Carlos Soler. And the quintet could be unavailable on Sunday.

There is no looking past Gianluigi Donnarumma between the sticks, with PSG lining up in a 4-2-2-2 formation in front of him. Timothee Pembele has been rising in stature this season and will start as the right-back. And the 20-year-old will join a makeshift backline consisting of Danilo Pereira, El Chadaille Bitshiabu, and Nuno Mendes.

Vitinha and Marco Verratti will sit at the base of the midfield unit. And the duo will look to assert PSG’s control of the proceedings while initiating quick transitions. They will also link up with Fabian Ruiz and Warren Zaire-Emery.

Ruiz will be the creator-in-chief for PSG, allowing Lionel Messi to focus on goalscoring duties. Meanwhile, there is increased volatility surrounding Messi’s situation amid the delay in contract talks. But he should start on Sunday, lining up alongside Kylian Mbappe in the final third.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Donnarumma; Pembele, Pereira, Bitshiabu, Mendes; Vitinha, Verratti; Zaire-Emery, Ruiz; Messi, Mbappe

Rennes

Unlike his counterpart in the PSG dugout, Bruno Genesio does not have any new issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Parc des Princes. The Stade Rennais manager will be without five first-team players on Sunday.

Martin Terrier is a long-term absentee due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. And the French forward will not play again before the 2022/23 season ends. Lorenz Assignon (knee), Xeka (ankle), Desire Doue (illness), and Jeremy Doku (hamstring) are the other players on the sidelines.

Steve Mandanda should be the automatic pick between the sticks, with Rennes lining up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of him. Captain Hamari Traore will be the most pivotal figure for the visitors as they look to thwart PSG.

The experienced full-back will provide an offensive threat, with left-back Adrien Truffert being more defensive-minded. Warmed Omari and Arthur Theate should be the two centre-backs and will face a stiff challenge against Kylian Mbappe.

Baptiste Santamaria and Lovro Majer will link up in the middle of the park. The duo will primarily be defensive-minded in their approach, looking to contain the moves through the central areas. But Majer’s movement with and without the ball might catch PSG off-guard at times.

Benjamin Bourigeaud and Karl Toko Ekambi will be the two wide midfielders. And their directness in the final third can trouble a makeshift PSG backline. Finally, Amine Gouiri and former PSG striker Arnaud Kalimuendo will be the two strikers.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Mandanda; Traore, Omari, Theate, Truffert; Bourigeaud, Santamaria, Majer, Toko Ekambi; Gouiri, Kalimuendo

Key Stats

  • PSG have lost three of their last six games against Rennes in Ligue 1 (W2 D1), as many as in their previous 15 under the Qatar ownership era that started in 2011/12 (W11 D2). The reverse fixture was the only defeat for PSG without scoring in the top flight this season.
  • PSG have conceded at least one goal in eight of their last nine games in Ligue 1, as many as in their previous 18 this season.
  • Rennes have failed to score in their last two games in Ligue 1 (0-1 vs Marseille, 0-0 vs AJ Auxerre), as many as in their previous 43. They have not failed to score in three consecutive matches in the top flight since September 2021 (L3).
  • Rennes have kept a clean sheet in their last two away games in Ligue 1 (1-0 vs Nantes, 0-0 vs Auxerre) after conceding at least one goal in their previous 22 (37 goals). They have not been on a better such run since January 2021 (3 games).
  • PSG (133) and Rennes (101) are the two sides that have the most build-up attacks in Ligue 1 this season.

Player to Watch

Kylian Mbappe

Embed from Getty Images

Things are getting complicated in and around PSG, with several star players facing uncertain futures at Parc des Princes. It does not get nervier for Christophe Galtier and the club than the speculation surrounding Kylian Mbappe.

The Frenchman has been sensational this season, often scoring goals for fun. And despite the rumour mill being abuzz about his future, he remains focused on the job at hand at PSG. And Mbappe will be particular about delivering the title before deciding whether he wants to leave PSG.

Prediction

PSG 2-0 Rennes

Rennes might have beaten PSG 1-0 in the reverse fixture. But the two teams’ form and fortunes have turned considerably since then. And with the visitors struggling to find the back of the net regularly, the hosts should manage to clinch the three points this weekend.

Make no mistake, Rennes might still trouble PSG due to the makeshift backline. But the hosts should contain their visitors and clinch a hard-fought victory this weekend. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Christophe Galtier’s charges.

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