Josh Mart takes the opportunity to preview Paris Saint Germain’s final home match of this seasons Champions League group phase against Scottish champions Celtic. PSG opened their UCL campaign against Celtic at Parkhead in September which culminated in a 5-0 thrashing in favour of ‘Les Parisiens’. Since then PSG have gone from strength to strength winning all four matches in the group so far.
Celtic have struggled somewhat losing three matches against the two heavyweights of the group; PSG and Bayern Munich. On the other hand, Celtic did win impressively in Brussels against Anderlecht meaning that the ‘Bhoys’ are in pole position to finish 3rd in the group, which means Europa League knockout football in the new year,
PSG’s league form in recent weeks has been great with 9 points out of 9 in the last 3 matches. Saturday’s 4-1 home victory against Nantes was another great win for PSG who have extended their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table to 6 points, ahead of last seasons sensation Monaco. PSG are a side in full confidence and Unai Emery will be keen to see his side keep up their 100% record in the Champions League tonight.
Celtic have been simply superb domestically over the last couple of seasons since Brendan Rodgers took over. The ‘Bhoys’ are on an unprecedented unbeaten run which extended to 64 games after Saturday’s 1-0 away win at St Johnstone, who incidentally were the last side to beat Celtic back in May 2016. Rodgers will hope that some of their form and luck in the league can be transferred to the Champions League as they look to secure third position in the group.
Team News and Tactics
PSG head coach Unai Emery has a couple of issues ahead of this one in terms of team selection. Thiago Motta is out until 2018 with a knee injury and Julian Draxler and Thomas Meunier are both doubtful as they missed the weekend’s match with Nantes due to injury concerns.
With this in mind I expect PSG to lineup in their typical 4-3-3 formation with Areola behind a back four of Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Layvin Kurzawa who is expected to be preferred ahead of summer signing Yuri. With Motta missing, I think that the midfield trio will consist of Rabiot, Verratti and possibly Javier Pastore if Draxler doesn’t make it. The front three of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappé almost picks itself due to the huge amount of goal threat they possess.
Celtic have no fresh injury concerns although on loan Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts is still missing from action. With this in mind, I expect Celtic to opt for a similar lineup and formation to the one played at the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich. Craig Gordon will start in goals behind a potential back 3 of Lustig, Boyata and Bitton/Simunovic.
James Forrest and Kieran Tierney will start as wing backs if Rodgers decides to start with this 5-4-1 formation. The midfield four has to provide support for lone striker Moussa Dembélé so I expect the attacking players such as Scott Sinclair and Callum McGregor to start as the wider midfielders, with Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown likely to partner in midfield.
Verratti (PSG)- Heavily linked with a move to Barcelona this summer, Italian midfield maestro Marco Verratti is hugely important to PSG’s hopes in this competition. His ability to dictate play and the tempo of the match, as well as providing the odd killer pass is what makes the former Pescara man so admired in European football. He could be the one to unpick the Celtic defence tonight.
Armstrong (Celtic) – Much loved by Celtic fans, Armstrong has been superb for the club since Rodgers took over at the beginning of last season. His goalscoring form last campaign from midfield was brilliant and he is also great at providing for his teammates. Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair may be the bigger names but Stuart Armstrong is just as important to this Celtic side.
PSG seem in unstoppable form at the Parc des Princes in these seasons Champions League and Celtic wont have fond memories of their trip to Glasgow earlier this season either. It would be difficult to predict anything other than a convincing win for the home side but Celtic are capable of producing going forward.
I’m not sure if Celtic are good enough as a unit and individually defensively against such high calibre opponents and with an arguably more important home match against Anderlecht still to come, I think PSG will be comfortable winners here.
Prediction: PSG 3-0 Celtic