In Turin, Paris hopes to finish in style

In Turin, Paris hopes to finish in style

The score of 11-5 over the last two matches, 7-2 against Haifa then 4-3 against Troyes, sums up this season’s PSG: a goal-scoring machine, thanks to the crazy talent of Lionel Messi, Neymar (suspended in Turin) and Kylian Mbappé, but in permanent imbalance. Even Estac, modest 12th in L1, was able to press where it hurts, “by picking up speed on the sides and exploiting the spaces” and “on transition, one of their flaws”, deciphered the coach aubois, Bruno Irles.

But the whole PSG season is likely to be played out on this tightrope walker’s thread. We must assume to discover ourselves to promote the free expression of the “MNM” formed by Messi, Neymar and Mbappé. “I have three extraordinary players in front”, synthesizes Christophe Galtier, who could replace “Ney” by Carlos Soler, Wednesday evening. “We have to find a system, with a complementary organization in the midfield, so that they can express themselves more freely”.

Oiled threesome

In this organization with a diamond midfielder and Messi and Mbappé at the forefront, “being able to defend more in density allows us to have transitions, when one of the three goes with the ball, it plays fast, it plays fair, it plays the for each other, and it’s very pleasant to see”, continues the technician. When everything is oiled in front, it gives Lille a 7-1 or last week’s 7-2 against Maccabi Haifa. “It’s very important that they have fun, it has to continue. It’s very pleasant to train them, to see them, especially when they express themselves like that”, greeted the coach on the evening of the seven goals against Haifa, two for Messi, two for Mbappé, one for Neymar, who also caused an own goal.

“They like to play together, they work together every day, believe me,” he insisted, to dispel rumors of dissension between Mbappé and the Argentinian-Brazilian duo. The question remains: how to organize to defend, knowing that in addition, with the suspension of Neymar, Galtier loses the one of the three who works the most in the first curtain. And Presnel Kimpembe, who has just resumed after seven weeks of absence, is forfeited for discomfort in the right Achilles tendon.


“Who to put behind them to be fair in the recovery, intense in the recovery”, wonders the coach. He is spoiled for choice with in-form players. Marco Verratti, suspended against Haifa, returns, Fabian Ruiz is going through “a good period”, underlines Galtier, Vitinha has had an excellent start to the season and Renato Sanches is coming back well after two injuries. Be careful, however, the first leg against Juve, won 2-1, had already illustrated the imbalance that still awaits this team: PSG scored two magnificent goals, by Mbappé, before conceding one from a set piece, a another weakness identified, and risking a draw on a misunderstanding in a match that he had yet flown over.

Paris needs a victory in Turin, to keep first place in the group ahead of Benfica. The two teams are tied at 11 points, not separated by the particular confrontation (twice 1-1). But Paris has the advantage over Lisbon, traveling to Haifa, on goal difference, +8 against +4, thanks precisely to its marvelous offensive power. For its part, Juve must obtain the same result as Maccabi to keep third place, synonymous with the Europa League play-off. The two teams are also neutralized (3-1 / 0-2) and the Turinese only have the advantage of a less bad goal difference, -3 against -9.

For Galtier, this match is “very important”. No one at the club has forgotten that second place last year led to a knockout round against Real Madrid and a painful elimination (1-0/1-3). Winning in Turin would also allow PSG to settle a historic score with a team that has always eliminated them in European cups, with even a humiliation in the 1996 UEFA Super Cup: 6-1 at the Parc and 3-1 in Palermo . At the time, it was the record against Juve that was unbalanced, not the game…

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