Opinion: This Formation Unlocks PSG’s Potent Attack; Europe Officially on Notice

In Paris Saint-Germain’s last three matches, they have scored 12 goals and allowed only one. I think it’s safe to say manager Thomas Tuchel has found the ideal formation that allows Les Parisiens to thrive.

Whether you call it a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-2-2, Tuchel finally has PSG stringing together brilliant performances to go along with victories. Previously, PSG was relying on the quality of a couple of players to rescue points but now, the team is working collectively to score goals and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

I have long wanted Tuchel to start Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappé, and Neymar Jr. together, but in a traditional 4-3-3 formation, the team was far too unbalanced for it to work. In this new formation though, PSG’s best attacking players can all thrive, especially Neymar.

On paper, the Brazilian is supposed to play on the left-wing but if you watch the match, he floats inside to pick up the ball and create for the attacking players ahead of him, especially Mbappé as we saw against AS Saint-Étienne on Sunday and against Galatasaray S.K. last Wednesday.

In both games, Neymar played a perfect through-ball to a streaking Mbappé for easy goals. Then you add Icardi, the best goal-poacher in Europe, with Di Maria’s playmaking ability and you have arguably the most potent attacking force in world football.

The key to this formation to work depends on a couple of factors. First, these four attacking players must be willing to track back and help on defense when the opposing team has the ball. In the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League, PSG could face a quality team like Atlético Madrid or Tottenham Hotspur who will put the capital club under pressure.

The midfield also has to be stout. With a healthy Marco Verratti, you don’t have a whole lot to worry about given his world-class talent. Next to him, Marquinhos is a more than capable defensive midfielder and I believe that is who you will see in the Champions League. Leandro Paredes has been in great form lately but I don’t think you can start him in a high-pressure match in Europe. Idrissa Gueye had a bright start to his PSG career but has faded in the games he’s played in recently. I’m not sure I would trust him either when it counts but he’s a solid player to have on the bench in case of injury.

The back-line will also be vital. With Juan Bernat, Thiago Silva, and Abdou Diallo (or Presnel Kimpembe when he’s healthy), you have a pretty solid defense in front of Keylor Navas. The right-back position worries me with Thomas Meunier and Colin Dagba our best options. Thilo Kehrer can play there but he’s missed a lot of the season due to injury. I could see opposing teams in the Champions League attacking PSG down that flank and swinging crosses in repeatedly. If there’s a position that needs to be upgraded in January, I believe it’s the right-back position.

Much was said about Tuchel’s tactics and how boring PSG was to watch. What they failed to realize, or refused to realize, is that injuries to key players complicated the German’s ability to work in training to perfect the ideal formation. Now that he’s had a month or so with most of his squad available, we’re seeing him work his magic and it’s beautiful to watch.

On Monday, we’ll find out which team PSG will play in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. If Paris can continue to play at a high level like this, no one in Europe will want to draw the reigning French champions.

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Tags Abdou Diallo Angel Di Maria AS Saint-Etienne Champions League Colin Dagba Galatasaray Idrissa Gueye Juan Bernat Kylian Mbappé Leandro Paredes Ligue 1 Marquinhos Mauro Icardi Neymar Presnel Kimpembe Thiago Silva Thilo Kehrer Thomas Meunier Thomas Tuchel


  1. Fantastic article yess psg is playing superb Like barca Play 4/4/2 is good I think psg played best football of the season against saint fantastic to watch

    1. Thank you for reading! PSG rounding into form at the right time. They need to continue to grow as a team until the knockout phase begins (and avoid injuries!).

  2. I still believe that PSG is best with 4-3-1-2 formation with Marq-Veratti-Gueye in midfield, Neymar as false 9 & Icardi – Mbappe as strikers…

    In big games you can’t really play with two real midfielders because NEYMAR & Di Maria are wingers and not known for defensive works…you can’t compromise midfield dominance in crucial games…also, NEYMAR is an excellent goal-scorer..so, playing him in midfield doesn’t make any sense…

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