PSG will be keen to get their Ligue 1 title charge back on track when they take on Ajaccio on Saturday night.
Defending champions PSG will be keen to get their Ligue 1 title defence back on track when they welcome Ajaccio to the Parc des Princes on Saturday night.
Christophe Galtier’s men have seen their form fall off a cliff post the World Cup and have nothing but the league to play for. A run of poor results, especially at home has seen them surrender a healthy lead at the top of the French top-flight standings.
Injuries to key players coupled with the drama surrounding Lionel Messi threatened to see the club explode. However, their 3-1 win over Troyes last time around puts them in pole position to win a ninth Ligue 1 title in the last 11 seasons. PSG’s win over Troyes has more or less consigned the latter to relegation. Ajaccio could be subjected to the same fate should they suffer defeat at the French capital this weekend.
The visitors played out a credible 0-0 draw against Coupe de France winners Toulouse last weekend and will once again undoubtedly give it their all against PSG. Les Parisiens hold a six-point lead over RC Lens at the top of the table with four games to go. They will be keen, however, to avoid dropping cheap points and wrapping up the title as soon as possible.
Ajaccio have the least potent attack in Ligue 1 this season but choosing to be brave and attacking PSG could offer them an opportunity to cause an upset. PSG are the overwhelming favourites in the tie but their ability to shine when under pressure is suspect. That is likely to be put on the line once again. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
📄🆗 The squad to face AC Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes#PSGACA I #Ligue1
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 12, 2023
Christophe Galtier has struggled with injuries and a lack of tactical flexibility this season. PSG were the side to beat going into the FIFA World Cup hiatus but have spectacularly fallen off a cliff since. The Frenchman’s job is far from secure and if history is anything to go by, his potentially retaining the Ligue 1 title is likely to be a late footnote. A late collapse is of course unfathomable.
PSG are the overwhelming favourites against Ajaccio but will have to do without several key players who are all out injured. This illustrious list includes Neymar, Presnel Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes, and Nordi Mukiele all of whom are out for the season.
Timothee Pembele is also struggling with a knee issue and is a doubt for the game. All is not lost as Achraf Hakimi returns from a suspension while Lionel Messi is set to be restored from his exile. Galtier is likely to deploy his side in a 3-4-3 formation on the night, with Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal.
The trio of Danilo Pereira, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos will lead a less-than-stellar backline that has succumbed under pressure in recent times. Achraf Hakimi should retain his spot on the right wing, with Juan Bernat occupying the other wing-back spot on the opposite flank. The duo of Marco Verratti and Vitinha will seek to dominate proceedings in the middle of the park, dictating the pace of the game.
Lionel Messi should start upfront alongside Hugo Ekitike and Kylian Mbappe. However, this three-headed snake is likely to be a two-pronged one, with the Argentine legend dropping deeper to function as an auxiliary number 10. Messi’s creativity on the ball should see Mbappe and Ekitike run into channels and get behind the Ajaccio defence.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Verratti, Vitinha, Bernat; Messi, Ekitike, Mbappe
The minnows are on the death step of relegation, and a loss on the night will more or less consign them back to the French second division. Olivier Pantaloni will have his work cut out on the night but will have little to lose.
Going all out could catch PSG off guard and give Ajaccio a difficult yet not impossible chance of securing a result. The home side has largely collapsed when under pressure and their mental fortitude is less than formidable.
L’ours will travel to the French capital without Yoann Touzghar, who is suspended for the game. Youcef Belaili is also facing disciplinary issues, while Michael Barreto is still not fully fit and unlikely to start.
It is not all bad news as Ismael Diallo and Mounaim El Idrissy are back from suspension and are in contention to feature. Ajaccio certainly lacks quality in comparison to PSG, but there will be no lack of fight from Pantaloni’s men on the night.
𝗨 𝗚𝗥𝗨𝗣𝗣𝗨 👥
Les 20 hommes sélectionnés par Olivier Pantaloni pour affronter le @PSG_inside !#PSGACA #ACAjaccio #ForzaAiacciu pic.twitter.com/fOIRpvvKPK
— AC Ajaccio (@ACAjaccio) May 12, 2023
Despite being likely to start in a 4-3-3 formation, Ajaccio are likely to re-deploy to a 4-5-1 when not in possession. Francois-Joseph Sollacaro should start in goal behind the backline of Mohamed Youssouf, Oumar Gonzalez, Clement Vidal and Ismael Diallo.
Vincent Marchetti, Thomas Mangani and Mathieu Coutadeur will be tasked with stifling the impact of Marco Verratti and Vitinha. L’ours will hope that the extra man in central midfield will give them an advantage.
Romain Hamouma and Kevin Spadanuda will start out wide and are likely to drop deeper as the game goes along. Mounaim El Idrissy will lead the line on the night and is likely to be fishing for long balls in an isolated role. Ajaccio have the poorest attack in Ligue 1 this season, with Mbappe alone outscoring the whole L’ours roster.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sollacaro; Youssouf, Gonzalez, Vidal, Diallo; Marchetti, Mangani, Coutadeur; Hamouma, El Idrissy, Spadanuda
- PSG have not lost a home game to Ajaccio in Ligue 1 since 2005. This is a run of seven games, with the home side winning four matches while the remaining three ended in a draw.
- A loss on the night will see Ajaccio lose 24 games over the course of a Ligue 1 season for the first time in their history.
- PSG have experienced three defeats in their last four Ligue 1 matches at home.
- Ajaccio have lost six straight away games in Ligue 1 on the spin heading into the trip to the Parc des Princes. This is the longest such run in the French top flight.
- PSG have failed to keep a clean sheet at home in Ligue 1 since January, a run of nine games.
Player to Watch
Christophe Galtier: “Leo Messi will start tomorrow. He was training at very good level, his attitude was perfect”. 🚨🔴🔵 #PSG
The suspension has been removed on Monday — after Leo’s statement last Friday. pic.twitter.com/M5QEKvroH0
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 12, 2023
PSG showed last weekend that they can get along just fine without Lionel Messi as they stormed home to a 3-1 win. The Argentine has been caught in the crosshairs thanks to his unsanctioned trip to the middle east and was publicly reprimanded.
He will be keen to now do his talking on the field and remind the footballing world the difference his presence makes on the field. Messi’s future at the Parc des Princes is far from certain beyond next summer and he will want to leave on a high. He is very likely to be PSG’s problem creator in chief for Ajaccio and should hold the keys to unlocking the visitors’ defence.
Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 AC Ajaccio
PSG are likely to end their long wait for a Ligue 1 clean sheet at home and take a step closer to retaining their league title. Ajaccio will show fight but the lack of quality between the two sides leaves much to be desired.
Lionel Messi, in particular, will be keen to silence his critics and should amp up his performance on the night. The game is unlikely to be aesthetically pleasing but it will come as a surprise if PSG do not romp home comfortably in front of their own fans.
Leave a Reply