Josh Mart takes the opportunity to preview PSG’s first Champions League game of the 15/16 season, at home to Swedish side Malmo FF. Les Parisiens were drawn into Group A alongside Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid and Malmo, of course.
Laurent Blanc will be slightly concerned with the difficulty of this group, as any tie against Real Madrid is certain to be fraught with problems and trips to the Ukraine are always a challenge, even for the elite of European football, which PSG are desperate to become a part of on a regular basis.
The demand and need for success in this competition means that Laurent Blanc and his men need a good start against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first club, Malmo, if they are to keep in touch with Los Blancos in Group A.
PSG have started the Ligue 1 season in fine fettle. 4 wins and a draw from 5 games is a great return, and this run of form sees PSG sit prettily at the top of the table. Friday night’s 2-2 draw at home to Bordeaux has been the only blip in a previously perfect start to the season.
The game has definitely been regarded by all with a PSG affiliation as 2 points dropped rather than 1 point gained, as Bordeaux scored the equalizer despite being down to 10 men. Edinson Cavani has been in great form for Les Parisiens and Angel Di Maria seems to be settling into the team very nicely indeed, so Laurent Blanc will take lots of positives into Tuesday’s match at the Parc des Princes.
Malmo did fantastically well to qualify for the Champions’ League group phase, defeating the much fancied Celtic over two legs in the play-off round. Malmo’s domestic form has been better of late, but a poor beginning to the campaign has resulted in Malmo currently sitting in 5th place in the Allsvenskan standings. Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Elfsborg was a missed opportunity for Malmo to gain some ground on the European places.
Due to the huge names and difficult opponents in this group, Malmo are realistically fighting to finish 3rd, a spot which will mean Europa League football after Christmas. This doesn’t mean to say that Malmo aren’t capable of causing an upset or two, especially at the atmospheric Swedbank Stadion.
Team News and Tactics
PSG should be able to welcome back Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is set to return to the squad for this match of huge significance, both to him personally, and to PSG collectively. Serge Aurier is suspended but aside from that, Laurent Blanc has no real injury concerns.
With this in mind I expect PSG to lineup in a 4-3-3 formation. Sirigu could deputize for Trapp, who made a big blunder at the weekend. The back four is likely to be Marquinhos, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and possibly new signing Layvin Kurzawa, who will be challenging Maxwell for the left back berth.
The dynamism of Matuidi and the tenacity of Verratti will likely support the brains of Thiago Motta in central midfield. PSG’s midfield (when at full strength) is arguably one of the most balanced in Europe. Angel Di Maria and Lucas Moura could well flank Cavani who is likely to spearhead the attack ahead of Ibrahimovic, who may not be ready to start the match.
Malmo could line up in a 4-5-1 formation, with talisman Rosenberg and play off hero Berget interchanging behind target man Durdic up front. The rest of the midfield is likely to consist of Saturday’s goalscored Adu, Lewicki and possibly Eikrem, who may be recalled to the team.
Bengtsson was substituted at the weekend and his replacement, Carvalho may take his place at the Parc des Princes. Goalkeeper Wiland is likely to be very busy so will need to command his area brilliantly if Malmo are to have any chance in Paris.
Matuidi (PSG)– Only recently has Blaise Matuidi gained full global recognition for his fabulous performances for both France and PSG in recent seasons. He possesses sublime pace, great dribbling ability and also has a fantastic shot.
He is, in my view, as important to PSG, as the star names of Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Cavani. Expect him to shine again in this encounter.
Rosenberg (Malmo)– Markus Rosenberg has been fantastic for Malmo since returning to his boyhood club in 2014, 9 years after he left for Ajax. Rosenberg has had a good career, particularly during his two spells at Werder Bremen where he was an invaluable member of the squad.
A move to the Premier League with West Brom didn’t work out but Rosenberg has been prolific since returning to Sweden, and was a huge part in last year’s title winning side.
It is difficult to predict anything other than a home win for PSG here. The relative budgets and wage bills of the two sides would suggest a rout in favor of the French giants, but as we know, football is played on the pitch and anything can happen. Despite this though, PSG’s great form and a huge desire to succeed in this fabulous competition should see them win this rather comfortably. It would be extremely special for Ibrahimovic to get some minutes and possibly even score against his hometown club, and you wouldn’t bet against it if he gets an opportunity.
Prediction: PSG 3-1 Malmo