Article by Mizgan Masani – @mizgans
Liverpool resume their Champions League campaign with a tough away game against Paris-Saint Germain. After losing to Red Star Belgrade before the international break, Jurgen Klopp’s men have left themselves with few things to do before they seek to stay in this competition come 2019.
As for the group scenario, if the Reds win this game, they will qualify for the knockout stage. A draw would mean they have to beat Napoli by any margin, and a loss would convey that they have beat the Italian side by at least a two-goal margin.
Liverpool won’t be praying for the latter to happen as Carlo Ancelotti’s men are not an easy team to beat, let alone by a two-goal margin. Henceforth, it is such an important match for the English side, who have lost their last four away games in the Champions League. So they need to make this away trip count.
There are some positive team news for both sides. Sadio Mane was ill on Monday but trained today and travelled with the team to Paris. Joe Gomez, who was not risked on Saturday due to a minor ankle problem, trained normally and travelled.
For the home team, both superstars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar trained normally and should feature from the start tomorrow.
Without further ado, let us preview the game tactically, look at how both managers can their team up in terms of the personnel and shape.
Expected lineups and formation:
As shown in the above image, the lineups and formation with which both teams can start the tomorrow night. For PSG, Thomas Tuchel has preferred the three at the back system, with Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe as central defenders.
Thomas Meunier and Juan Bernat as wing-backs, both of whom like to move forward on every given opportunity. The duo is not really defensively secured as fullbacks, part of the reason why the manager has switched to a back three.
The midfield duo picks themselves up. Marco Verratti missed the first leg of this fixture at Anfield, and the Parisiens missed his presence. With the Italian in central midfield, they look a more secured, reliable prospect. Adrien Rabiot partnering him would be ideal. The Frenchman’s running power with the ball and the ability to go past opponents in tight areas would be vital.
The front three pick themselves up as well if all are fit, and Neymar and Mbappe are fit. Edinson Cavani leads the line.
As for Liverpool, I have gone with Joe Gomez at right-back partly due to the reason that he can provide more defensive solidity than Trent Alexandar-Arnold. That means Dejan Lovren could partner Virgil van Dijk in central defence. Andrew Robertson’s work will be cut out as he has to deal with the ever-present danger of Mbappe and the overlap running of Meunier.
The midfield is where the debate starts. Jordan Henderson should start this game as his energy would be key to press the PSG midfield. Georginio Wijnaldum has been one of the mainstays in the team this season. The Dutchman’s ability to hold the ball in tight areas would be vital.
James Milner didn’t start against Watford possibly to feature in this game, and his running power along with his work rate would be important for the Reds. The front three pick themselves up.
Coming to how the game may pan out over the course of 90 minutes and think how Liverpool can win this game, they have to do three things in the right manner. Firstly, they need to be patient without possession, as they have been this season. The key is to stay in the right shape, defend the spaces in the right manner.
The second thing is to then break from deeper positions and exploiting the correct spaces. Playing against a team who are with three at the back means their wing-backs will be high. This is where Salah and Mane can use their pace and run the channels, on the sides of PSG’s wide centre-backs. What this will do is force Marquinhos and Kimpembe to defend the wide spaces, which will then open the space centrally for Firmino and other midfield runners. It is a perfect way to expose a team on the counter.
Lastly, winning the midfield battle would be vital as well. The Reds are expected to field three physically dominant midfielders who did well when these two teams met at Anfield. They can numerically over-power the duo of Rabiot and Verratti.
Milner and Wijnaldum can virtually man-mark both midfielders when they have the ball, then Henderson will be the spare man to pick any inside runs from either of Neymar or Mbappe.
That’s it from the tactical preview section of the game, let’s hope for a cracking encounter with nuances of highest order throughout the course of 90 minutes.
Article by Mizgan Masani – @mizgans
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