PSG’s Five-Step Plan for Milan Doubleheader

Paris Saint-Germain take on Milan at Parc des Princes on Wednesday in the first of back-to-back UEFA Champions League Group F meetings. The French giants are currently second after their heavy defeat away at Newcastle United last time out, and Les Parisiens need a performance and result to match. Their Italian visitors are one of the competition’s most titled sides, yet the Rossoneri find themselves without a win or even a goal after consecutive goalless draws against the Magpies and Borussia Dortmund.

Luis Enrique saw his team return from the October international break with a victory over RC Strasbourg Alsace in the capital last weekend. Yet the French champions are yet to hit the top spot in Ligue 1, with AS Monaco and unbeaten OGC Nice still clear. The Spanish tactician came in for understandable criticism after the Newcastle debacle, and he is now facing a must-win game against Milan if PSG want to hold onto one of the top two positions in the group.

Ahead of a crucial home clash with Milan before the return trip to San Siro, we look at five key areas that could shape the capital club’s ability to take all three points. Failure to do so would mean unnecessary complications in an already challenging task to make it out of Group F as one of the top two.

Read the full article at PSG Talk Extra Time on Substack.

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Clear tactics and no experiments

Luis Enrique’s formation and game plan in Newcastle cost PSG all three points as well as the damage inflicted by such a heavy defeat to the Saudi Arabia-owned Premier League club. The Spaniard cannot afford to gamble this time and must get his home approach spot on from the system to the personnel and their chemistry.

The players’ showings in England should have discouraged a similar approach being used in Europe with Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Randal Kolo Muani, and Gonçalo Ramos from the off-too-much-attacking firepower on top of just Warren Zaïre-Emery, and Manuel Ugarte in the midfield. The French teenage sensation’s fitness could dictate Luis Enrique’s options in the middle of the park, which would further dissuade a repeat.

Instead, PSG needs to return to the relative defensive solidity they exhibited earlier in the season and a more balanced tactical setup with a return to a possession-based 4-3-3 more likely than an attempt to persevere with a 4-2-3-1. The latter could work depending on the personnel, but the former has enjoyed greater success so far this term.

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No unnecessary defensive risks

Achraf Hakimi and Lucas Hernández have done an admirable job so far this year in terms of remaining solid at the back and not charging forward too much. Obviously, that comes more naturally for the Frenchman than for the Moroccan, but Hakimi is using his forays into attacking positions more effectively under Luis Enrique. This is crucial against Milan, who possess Rafael Leao, who would relish any space afforded to him on PSG’s right.

Marquinhos and Milan Škriniar are not as exposed as they could have been had Hakimi spent as much time in attack as he did in the past, and Hernandez is adept at slotting into a back three when needed with Nuno Mendes and Presnel Kimpembe yet to feature under their new head coach. Gianluigi Donnarumma is arguably the weakest link when he has the ball at his feet, and Marquinhos’ suicidal loss of possession which gifted Newcastle their opening goal, did his team no favors.

A repeat showing cannot and will not be accepted, so the importance of keeping things simple in the rearguard is absolutely vital. Hernández must keep his cool, too, with no obvious replacement for him on the left in the Champions League, with Layvin Kurzawa ineligible for continental competitions despite starting to make a return domestically.

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Be bolder at home

Depending upon how the game plays out, PSG are likely to find it tough to break Milan down, given the Italians’ watertight defense so far, which has kept two clean sheets. If Les Parisiens can get into a situation where they are dictating the pace of the game as well as possession, then Luis Enrique can throw caution to the wind and turn up the attacking intensity. The importance of breaking through past Mike Maignan to win the game cannot be understated, given how difficult it will be to exert as much control in Milan for the return game.

Read the full article at PSG Talk Extra Time on Substack.

Tags AC Milan Champions League Kylian Mbappé Lucas Hernandez Luis Enrique Manuel Ugarte Ousmane Dembele Randal Kolo Muani Warren Zaire-Emery
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