MATCH PREVIEW: PSG VS MONTPELLIER, CAN POCHETTINO'S MEN MAINTAIN THEIR PERFECT START?
PSG VS MONTPELLIER
The ever-growing Ligue 1 is back this weekend and has a tricky fixture on cards. Early league leaders Paris Saint Germain welcome Montpellier languishing in the tenth position. PSG made a perfect start to the season with seven wins in seven games. With their so-called super squad, they’re supposed to win the league without a fuss. Montpellier thus faces an almighty task against PSG during the weekend.
🔢 Let's take a look at the @Ligue1_ENG as it stands after tonight's games 👇
— Ligue1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) September 22, 2021
Mauricio Pochettino took charge of the French giant midway through last season. The Argentine won his first-ever managerial trophy just days into his PSG career. But he suffered an incredible reverse in the league as Lille stormed to the league title on the final day. It bruised PSG’s ego and as a result, they have gone on to have one of the best ever transfer windows a team could possibly have. They signed Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi to name a few.
Understandably they started the season on fire with straight wins. The fact that Lionel Messi hasn’t scored or assisted once and Sergio Ramos hasn’t even made his debut shows how strong they are. With Mbappe and Neymar performing regularly, picking three points is becoming the new routine again. Pochettino has instilled a never give up mentality as PSG scored late winners in their previous two games to snatch a victory.
Montpellier had a rocky start to the season before finding stability. Their backline is leaking goals as they conceded three goals thrice already in seven games. In Germain, they have found a scoring source to get them over the line with late goals. They would be pushed to the ropes throughout the game. However, they could find solace in the pace they possess on the break.
Pochettino divided opinions when he took of Messi against Lyon. The game was finely poised at 1-1 with PSG chasing the goal and the manager decided to take off the best player of all time. Though PSG won the game, the decision was scrutinized. It was later revealed that Messi was hooked only to prevent a further injury. This bruised bone of Messi would keep him out of the clash against Montpellier as well. They might hope he recovers in time for the Champions League clash against Manchester City.
🗣️ Pochettino on Messi's substitution:
“These are decisions we make for the team. Everyone knows that we have very great players, we have to make choices. Sometimes it may appeal, other times a little less. After the match Messi told me he was fine, in private. ” pic.twitter.com/hn1eYDfJER
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) September 20, 2021
Sergio Ramos is out of contention for this game with a return date not given yet. The same goes for the Italian midfield maestro Marco Verratti.
PSG tried a host of combinations in attack and defence to get the best of their attackers. The Argentine manager might try something similar yet again.
Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Pereira, Wijnaldum; Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe; Icardi
Oglio on the other hand has only Pedro Mendes’ long time injury to deal with. The Portuguese centre-back is slated for a return in October.
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Montpellier deploys a similar 4-2-3-1 every game. They have intelligent players in the midfield who could counter with their pace and finesse. Germain in good goalscoring touch would be expected to start again for Montpellier against PSG.
Omlin; Souquet, Thuler, Cozza, Ristic; Ferri, Leroy; Mollet, Savanier, Mavididi; Germain
The French superstar has bounced back from a disappointing Euro 2020. He failed to score a single goal and missed the crucial penalty that sealed their fate in the knockouts. Moving on, the World Cup winner knows he couldn’t let it hurt him. As a result, he has amassed four goals and as many assists already.
Kylian becomes the player who has won this distinction the most times! 👏pic.twitter.com/FVFKMAXjMM
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 23, 2021
Mbappe had to adjust to a new role because of Lionel Messi. However, he was playing at his favoured striker position regularly too. With Messi taking the right-wing, Neymar moved central pushing Mbappe to the left. Owing to his brilliance Mbappe has stood out again. With direct running and pace, on the wing, he is not only scoring but also assisting.
He could be feasting on a leaky backline of Montpellier. The defensive midfielders should screen their defence and cut off the channels and prevent Mbappe from running into them.
He is a natural leader who came into the side and took the armband with respect. Savanier leads by example and drives his troops as well. While playing as the number 10, he shows his best with his passing and dribbling.
Savanier has two goals and three assists to his name already this season. He is the chief tormentor of opponents and can pick the lock of defence with delightful passing. Also, Germain offers a strong target man like option for Savanier’s set pieces making him a direct threat.
Georginio Wijnaldum has come under immense pressure for his failure to hit the ground running. This game presents an opportunity for him to keep Savanier quiet and kickstart his PSG career.
On paper and on form, this is a straightforward fixture for the Parisians. However, the beauty of the game makes things play out otherwise on the field. Yes, Montpellier is struggling defensively but so is PSG’s new faced backline. So they can always back themselves to land a punch.
This is a match that would be decided on the breaks with playmakers making crucial contributions. PSG would still be the favourites to protect their perfect record and register an eighth successive win in the league.
FootTheBall predicts a 3-2 victory to PSG with Kylian Mbappe leading the way against Montpellier.