How Paris Saint-Germain Will Line Up Against Anderlecht
Laurent Blanc’s side have the chance to make it nine points from a possible nine in Group C, moving them to the verge of qualification.
Standing in their way are the Belgian champions who find themselves in poor form domestically, having already lost four times this season in the Jupiler Pro League.
John van den Brom’s side have also lost both of their Champions League games so far, to SL Benfica and Olympiakos FC, and are struggling to recover from the loss of some key players over the summer.
The returns of Italian duo Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta to the squad will boost PSG; both players were suspended for Saturday’s Ligue 1 victory over Bastia.
However, Javier Pastore’s injury that kept him out of the clash with the Corsicans has once again ruled him out of the squad, according to the club’s official squad list on PSG.fr. Christophe Jallet, who started on Saturday, also misses out through injury.
The return of Verratti and Motta means that, should he choose to, Blanc can revert back to his preferred three-man midfield. Le President was forced to move away from it over the weekend due to a lack of central midfield options following Pastore’s injury.
Having rotated his side in the league and not facing AS Saint-Etienne until Sunday, the PSG coach can field a relatively full-strength starting XI at the Constant Vanden Stock.
Given the advantage that a third win from three matches would give the side from the French capital, it is difficult to see Blanc trying anything other than his preferred system.
That will mean that Verrati and Motta are reinstated, despite Adrien Rabiot’s impressive performance against Bastia. Jeremy Menez and Hervin Ongenda will also likely drop out with one of those positions being put back in the centre of midfield.
Ezequiel Lavezzi will come in for the other and will find himself back in his familiar role on the left of the front three.
Following their spectacular goal-scoring form from the weekend, it is a perfect match in which to pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani together and to expect them to put in a performance.
Anderlecht’s defence is shaky at times, as shown in Friday's unconvincing 2-0 win at RAEC Mons. Considering that Les Mauves have already conceded 15 league goals this season, PSG will fancy their chances of winning by a big margin.
Considering the trouble Ibrahimovic and Cavani have had in playing together so far this campaign, a clash against limited opponents presents the best possible time to solve their partnership issues.
The Uruguayan will likely start on the right with Ibrahimovic in the middle, as was the case in their last group game against Benfica. PSG destroyed the Portuguese side on the night and Blanc will be keen to keep their impressive goal-scoring start to their continental campaign going.
With that in mind, Blanc will be concentrating on the movement of the pair.
The Swede was excellent against Benfica, but Cavani barely got a chance in the game and it was arguably the one negative point from an evening of positives.
Of course, there is a chance that Blanc will view this match as an opportunity to rotate his squad further and could give another opportunity to the likes of Lucas Digne, Menez and Ongenda.
Digne perhaps deserves more chances than he is getting at present, but that is through no fault of his own. Maxwell is simply too consistent and, when fit, an undisputed starter for PSG.
That is perhaps why Blanc will be keen to get a third straight victory in the competition secured. Not only does it mean faster qualification to the knockout stages but more potential opportunities to rotate his squad and give the likes of Digne and Rabiot valuable Champions League experience.
Should PSG be victorious in Brussels, a victory over Anderlecht in the Parc des Princes return match at the end of the month would almost certainly qualify the French champions for the next round.
Given the momentum that Blanc’s side have built up at present, it seems risky to alter a winning formula too drastically. Further bedding in your star summer signing by going full strength is arguably the more pressing issue at this time.
Plus, the time for rotation will come once Thiago Silva and Pastore recover from their injuries and need to be reintegrated into the side.
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