PSG could all but secure the Ligue 1 title should they beat Auxerre on Sunday.

A lot will be at stake at both ends of the table when Auxerre welcome PSG to the Stade Abbe Deschamps for the first time since 2012 on Sunday night.

Christophe Galtier’s men hold a six-point lead over RC Lens at the top of the table with three games to go. Given Paris Saint-Germain’s better goal difference, a win on the night should more or less guarantee them the title.

Auxerre, for their part are just one point off the relegation zone and are in real danger of being sucked into the mire. With Nantes falling to Montpellier, they will stay out of the bottom four for at least another week. A point or more is unlikely on the night but would do wonders to Auxerre’s hopes of retaining top-flight status.

PSG have been far from dominant since the turn of the year. Several chinks have been exposed in their armour and Galtier despite being on the brink of Ligue 1 glory will be less than confident about his seat.

The disparity between both teams is huge, and PSG, even without getting out of second gear, will go into the game as overwhelming favourites. Auxerre are unbeaten in their last seven home games in Ligue 1 and will be dogged in their approach.

With five at the back, the home side will aim to use numerical advantage to cut off passing lanes and crowd out the PSG attackers. It promises to be a game of few chances and whoever takes them should secure the bragging rights. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

AJ Auxerre

The French minnows are just one point above the relegation zone heading into matchday 36 and will hope that their home form can help them secure a result of some sort against the defending champions.

Auxerre face an injury concern regarding striker M’Baye Niang. The striker is currently recovering from illness and it remains to be seen if he will make the cut for the night. Given that he was rested last time around, the home side have reasons to be optimistic.

Nuno Da Costa was taken off after 64 minutes against Brest and it remains to be seen if he will be available to take to the field from the start. Goalkeeper Ionuț Radu is also far from fully fit but should continue in goal.

A 5-3-2 formation is likely to be used by Christophe Pelissier as he hopes to spring a surprise. Radu should continue in goal while the trio of Julian Jeanvier, Jubal, and Souleymane Toure will occupy the centre-back slots. The narrow shape they occupy should free up Rayan Raveloson and Gideon Mensah to push forward when possible.

Birama Toure will be the central piece in midfield, with Youssouf M’Changama and Han-Noah Massengo in support, Niang is likely to start upfront with Gauthier Hein beside him in attack. The pressure would have been on Auxerre to get a result had Nantes won their game earlier tonight. Since that was not the case, it remains to be seen if AJA will be motivated enough to have a go at PSG.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Radu; Raveloson, Jeanvier, Jubal, Toure, Mensah; M’Changama, B. Toure, Massengo; Niang, Hein

AJ Auxerre vs PSG Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats.

Paris Saint-Germain

In what has been a poor season for the French giants, securing the Ligue 1 title will be at best a consolation. Christophe Galtier will be keen to get the mickey off his back before discovering whether he will continue as the boss in the summer.

PSG will be without Neymar, Presnel Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes, and Nordi Mukiele, all of whom are out for the season. Timothee Pembele is also yet to recover and is unlikely to make the cut for the game. The visitors will also be without Achraf Hakimi who was sent off against Ajaccio last weekend.

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 retain their spots at the back, with Warren Zaire-Emery and Juan Bernat occupying the other wing-back spots.

Marco Verratti and Fabian Ruiz should be deployed in the middle of the park, dictating the pace of the game, and linking the defence with the attack. The former is likely to play as the distributor while the latter will have more freedom to carry the ball forward.

Lionel Messi should start upfront alongside Hugo Ekitike and Kylian Mbappe. However, the Argentine will in all likelihood, drop deeper into the number 10 role. Mbappe was in excellent form against Ajaccio and will hope to have a similar impact on the night.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Zaire-Emery, Ruiz, Verratti, Bernat; Messi, Ekitike, Mbappe

AJ Auxerre vs PSG Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats.

Key Stats

  • Auxerre are unbeaten against PSG in their last three home games in Ligue 1. However, this is the first time the champions are visiting the Stade Abbe Deschamps since 2012. Auxerre are yet to win a single game against sides in the top three of the French top flight.
  • A win on the night will see PSG win the title, making them the most successful side in French top-flight history.
  • PSG are in line to become the first team to spend all of the 38 weeks at the top of the Ligue 1 standings.
  • Auxerre are unbeaten in their last seven home games in Ligue 1. This is the second longest such current run of any side in the French top flight.
  • A win on the night will see PSG equal their record for most away wins over the course of a league campaign (14).

Player to Watch

Lionel Messi

AJ Auxerre vs PSG Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats.
Lionel Messi will function as a number 10. (Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)

The Argentine legend looks likely to leave Paris in the summer and will want to do so on a high. His ability to drop deep and dictate terms going forward is difficult to pin down, given his mobility.

Auxerre will have their work cut out against Messi and will in all likelihood try to cut off his passing channels. The PSG setup is rather imbalanced meaning Kylian Mbappe and Hugo Ekitike could be isolated should Messi not work his magic with the ball.


AJ Auxerre 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain

Auxerre are difficult to beat at home and their five-man backline should make life difficult for PSG. A lot will depend on how well they can shackle Lionel Messi and limit his ability to craft opportunities. PSG are unlikely to get too many clear-cut opportunities but the difference in quality should swing the tie in their favour.

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