Josh Mart previews PSG’s trip to Belgium, as the French Champions face Anderlecht as we reach the midway point of the Champions League group phase.
Wednesday’s game in Brussels could see PSG maintain their 100% start in this competition, after beating both Olympiakos and Benfica in their last two matches beforehand. Anderlecht are going to find it extremely difficult to qualify from the group after losing against both Benfica and Olympiakos, without registering a single goal.
Anderlecht’s league form has also been indifferent, and they currently sit 5th in the Pro League table. PSG on the other hand, have been in devastating form of late, winning their last 5 games in all competitions and they are also top of the Ligue 1 table after a 4-0 victory over Bastia at the weekend.
Laurent Blanc seems to have finally found a way of getting the best out of all of his key players, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani both netting braces at the weekend.
Squad Selection and Tactics
PSG will still be without Captain Thiago Silva for this match, but his absence has not been felt as much as many predicted, with PSG only conceding once in their last 5 games. Argentinian playmaker Javier Pastore will also be missing from the squad, due to injury; although there are suggestions that the Argentinian is actually refusing to play because he is ‘not in the right state of mind’.
Laurent Blanc will probably alter the starting 11 which defeated Bastia at the weekend, despite the comprehensiveness of that victory.
I expect PSG to lineup in a variation of a 4-4-2 if Zlatan and Cavani both start, or a 4-3-3 if not. The impressive youngster Marquinhos expected to partner Alex at the heart of the defence. Lucas Digne could start at left back, but Blanc is perhaps more likely to call on Maxwell’s experience in this encounter.
Anderlecht are likely to start in a 4-3-3 formation, with great emphasis placed on the talented attacking trio of Suarez, Mitrovic and Bruno. All 3 of these players can cause teams problems due to the incisiveness of that attacking trident. Mitrovic was signed in the summer from Partizan Belgrade, and is proving to be a real goal scoring threat. The tricky, young midfielder Praet is definitely one to watch for PSG.
If PSG can control the midfield from the start of this encounter then they should easily go on to triumph tonight. If Matuidi and co perform at their highest level, they should be able to provide ample ammunition for the likes of Lucas Moura and Ibrahimovic to enable PSG to have a successful evening. However, if the visitors are complacent in midfield, then Anderlecht’s creative players could take advantage and potentially cause an upset.
One thing that worries me from Anderlecht’s perspective is their defence. Conceding 5 goals in two Champions League games so far is a poor showing, and on Wednesday they will come up against the strongest strike force yet. If Ibrahimovic and Cavani are up for this one, it will be a miserable evening for Anderlecht fans.
Laurent Blanc will know the significance of a win in Brussels, as it would mean maximum points and a massive step towards qualification so I expect him to name a strong side. Anderlecht will also know that they need to start picking up points soon, if they realistically want to aim for the Europa League place, but they will be really up against it on Wednesday night. I expect the hosts to give it a go, but ultimately, PSG will be much too strong.
Prediction: Anderlecht 0-3 PSG