Already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League and sure to finish in second place in their group, PSG face Bruges at the Parc des Princes in a non-participation match for the capital club from an accounting point of view. Except that it could precisely offer the game and thus serve as a trigger for the next matches.
The seasons follow one another and are similar for PSG, which has acquired the habit of not stressing out on the last day of its Champions League group. Since the arrival of the Qataris, the capital club has only contested their C1 round of 16 qualification in the final group stage match once. It was in 2018 and PSG won without subtleties on the pitch of Red Star Belgrade (1-4). So yes, many times this last match was decisive for the first place of the group and the status of the seeded in the next round that accompanies it, but not enough to play with fear in the stomach. This year, as in 2019, PSG have absolutely nothing to look forward to from an accounting point of view, as they will finish what happens at the end of this match against Bruges in second place in the group. At that time, Galatasaray, who hoped, like the Belgian club on Tuesday afternoon, that the rival would relax a bit due to the circumstances, had eaten a violent 5-0. But it is a no-brainer to say that the current PSG dynamic is not the same as that of winter 2019.
A classic composition?
There are several ways to approach a non-stakeholder meeting. And the first question that each coach, and therefore Mauricio Pochettino, asks himself is the composition of the team. It is already a golden rule, all players slightly injured or too physically fair are removed to avoid the slightest risk, such as Sergio Ramos or Colin Dagba. In 2019, Thomas Tuchel took advantage of the match against Galatasaray to carry out a slight roster review, giving regular substitutes Sergio Rico and Layvin Kurzawa playing time and allowing little Tanguy Kouassi to become the youngest PSG player to participate in a match. Champions League match. A mission that had proven to be a success since the Parisians took a clean sheet and the one currently waxing the Bayern Munich bench had delivered a promising performance.
Two years later, Mauricio Pochettino was able to use the same mechanisms. Except that the Spanish goalkeeper is not on the C1 list, and the French left-back, who has not appeared in the Parisian shirt since his 10 minutes against LOSC during the Champions Trophy, seems so far away in the hierarchy that the interest of seeing it in the green rectangle for the rest of the season is minimal. As for the young shoots that the fans demand each week so much that the players in the place do not give satisfaction, the Argentine coach could have taken the opportunity to give them the opportunity to show themselves. Except that it would have been cruel for the under-19s who play at the same time against Bruges their direct qualification to the round of 16 of the Youth League and who intend to trust El Chadaille Bitshiabu, Xavi Simons, Edouard Michut, as since the beginning of the season or Ismaël Gharbi to achieve it.
There is no choice, you must play
Therefore, it is with a more or less typical team that PSG will face Brugge. Except that for the first time this season, especially in the Champions League, the Parisians will not have the pressure of the result, although Mauricio Pochettino would like not to chain three consecutive games without victory for the first time since his arrival in the capital. after the draws in Lens (1-1) and against Nice (0-0) in Ligue 1. For their part, the spectators present at the Parc des Princes will only hope for one thing: not victory, but to have a good ending of the day attending a good football game. In the first leg (1-1)Bruges has proven that they can do their part to put on a good show. On the other hand, the Parisians, they, have shown very rarely this season – if not ever – have shown a skillful and sensational game as they could in the past. In addition, the Argentine coach never hid it, declaring at the end of each match that the match was going to happen over time and that he especially remembered the proud reaction of his players and the result.
Except this time, only the game counts, as Pochettino admitted in a pre-match press conference: “I know that we have to do better in the game, that we have to improve several things. We are going to play to win and improve our game, it is a perfect combination for that. ” So it is time to try a new tactic that could be used in the future or simply to get Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, who will have to do without Neymar for long weeks, combine more and find automatisms. In short, try playing soccer. Especially since Marco Verratti could be available. And finally, depending on the game proposed by PSG and the mood of the players, this game without betting against Bruges could be the most important of the season as it is the starting point of a new approach and therefore the true beginning. from Paris. Saint-Germain version 2021-2022. Or on the contrary, marking the end of the era of Mauricio Pochettino, whose future is increasingly uncertain.
by Steven Oliveira
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