Paris Saint Germain have developed a well-oiled system under Thomas Tuchel. The tactical flexibility of players like Dani Alves and Julian Draxler have allowed the French giants to flourish in a number of different systems, seemingly chopping and changing their formation every week without ever missing a beat. However, without star men up top like Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria, PSG have suddenly looked like a mid-table team, wobbling and floundering under the pressure as players like Christopher Nkunku and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting have failed to make a mark.
PSG’s world record signing Neymar was first to suffer injury back in February. His metatarsal injury happened to come at the worst possible time as Tuchel’s men crashed out of the UEFA Champions League to Manchester United. Cavani also fell victim to an injury around the same time and a month later, Argentine superstar Angel di Maria did too. But with World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe still around, the Parisians looked set to be alright. However Mbappe has had to take on more responsibility than he’s perhaps ready for and partnering alongside a player who failed to really make a mark at both Stoke and Schalke 04 in Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, perhaps isn’t helping the cause. On Wednesday the Parisians were left without Mbappe and that left Choupo-Moting alongside someone who isn’t even a striker in Christopher Nkunku. As a result Les Rouges et Bleu looked fruitless in attack and lost to FC Nantes, a team who sit 14th in table with not even half the amount of points that PSG have accumulated. This coming off the back of their biggest defeat in 18 years – a whopping 5-1 loss against LOSC Lille on Sunday. Mbappe, who assisted PSG’s only goal that day, said after the game that the team played like a group of beginners. Mbappe, still only 20 years old, was clearly looking for a response from his team. Unfortunately the response didn’t come and the World Cup winner did damage to himself and was left out of the squad altogether. Although they dominated possession, they struggled to finish and needed to rely on goals from Dani Alves and 19-year old Methean Guclu. Tuchel’s side also failed to stop Nantes from attacking down the middle and were over-zealous in far too many challenges, giving away unnecessary free kicks. But worst of all, they made basic errors in front of goal and defended just like Mbappe had pointed out a few days prior, “like a group of beginners.” Without Cavani, di Maria, Neymar and Mbappe, PSG lack the necessary attacking verve to unlock the opposition defense. This is a very worrying thing given that Mbappe is the only one of their four star men currently not suffering from an injury.
Nantes’ 3-2 win over Paris-Saint-Germain was Tuchel’s third game in a row without a win and although the Ligue 1 giants look set to walk to their sixth title in seven years, it is very clear that without their star men, PSG are nowhere near the same side.
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