Bastia vs PSG Preview: Selection Dilemma for Unai Emery?

Paris Saint-Germain are set to kickoff their 2016-17 league campaign on Friday as they prepare to take on Corsican side SC Bastia at the Stade Armand Cesari. It’s hard to top last year’s record-breaking performance in Ligue 1 but new manager Unai Emery will want to begin in the best way possible to show that he’s up for the challenge ahead.

Like every game PSG play domestically, this one will be theirs to lose as Bastia come into the match having lost some of their best attacking players in the transfer window. While many pick Bastia to be a team on the bubble to finish in the bottom three, their shock 4-2 victory over Paris at the Parc des Princes in the 2014-15 season isn’t one a vast majority of supporters have forgotten and Paris will want to be on their toes and put the game out of reach early.

The reigning French champions will be missing key players as they travel to Corsica for the first match of the season. Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani are both out due to injury and Marquinhos is away with the Brazil national team at the Olympics but nearly the entire squad is fit and available for the game. There could be some changes to the team that demolished Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 in last Saturday’s Trophée des Champions victory though. With neither goalkeeper assured of the first choice spot yet, Alphonse Areola looks set to be handed the starting job for the league opener with Kevin Trapp likely to be benched for making a mistake against Lyon that nearly cost them a goal if not for an offside call. At right-back we could also see new man Thomas Meunier make his full competitive debut for PSG with Serge Aurier not having the best of games against Lyon in attack despite being solid on the defensive end. Such is the high level of competition supporters should probably come to expect from the team this season.

There’s a chance Grzegorz Krychowiak also makes his debut with the club having been suspended for the Lyon game, with Adrien Rabiot who was also suspended probably handed a start. Marco Verratti will most likely come off the bench once again after a sub-par performance against Lyon. Cavani’s absence means Hatem Ben Arfa will most probably continue in the No. 9 role where he played well last weekend, scoring his first goal in the process. New signing Jesé Rodriguez should make the bench and could potentially make his debut depending on how the match goes.

Heading into the match though, Emery’s selection headache will come mainly from the bench as will most likely be the case the entire season if the squad remains fully fit. Man-managing will be crucial given the squad depth and will be one of Emery’s toughest tasks. He looks to have eased questions over Blaise Matuidi’s future talking about his importance in the pre-match press conference but the Frenchman may not feature even on the bench saying he isn’t ready despite being in training for almost two weeks. While his decision on picking Benjamin Stambouli or not will likely determine his future.

Starting XI Prediction (4-2-3-1): Areola; Meunier, David Luiz, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Motta, Rabiot; Lucas, Pastore, Di Maria; Ben Arfa

Substitutes Prediction: Trapp, Aurier, Maxwell, Verratti, Krychowiak, Jesé, Augustin

Score Prediction: Bastia 1 – PSG 3

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Tags Adrien Rabiot Alphonse Areola Blaise Matuidi Edinson Cavani Grzegorz Krychowiak Hatem Ben Arfa Jesé Rodriguez Kevin Trapp Ligue 1 Marco Verratti Marquinhos SC Bastia Serge Aurier Thiago Silva Thomas Meunier Unai Emery
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