This Saturday, PSG will be back at Parc des Princes as Thomas Tuchel’s side host Bordeaux. The Parisians will be looking to get back to winning ways after their shock defeat away at Monaco last weekend. The 2-3 defeat makes it their fourth loss in 11 games already this season. While PSG still sit top by two points, the pressure will be mounting on Tuchel’s shoulders to turn it around.Meanwhile, Bordeaux sit 12th in the table and will be in good spirits thanks to their tricky away win at Rennes 1-0. Les Girondins have had a season of mixed results so far, but their mix of youth and veteran players will look at Monaco’s win as a template for how they might defeat PSG this weekend. This preview will provide a tactical analysis into how the two teams will look to play, ways in which Bordeaux will try to hurt PSG based on their defeat to Monaco, and how PSG can get back to winning ways in Ligue 1.
The predicted line-ups can be seen above with PSG on the left and Bordeaux on the right. We believe Bordeaux will go into this game unchanged as they were able to grab an away victory last weekend with this lineup. Bordeaux have often used a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout Ligue 1 this season. They have an interesting blend of experienced and young players that can produce. In defence, they have experience with 32-year-old Paul Baysse and their captain former Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny. These two, along with the goalkeeper Benoît Costil, have been the reason for Bordeaux’s strong defence. Bordeaux’s xGA (expected goals allowed) is currently 16.6, but they have only allowed 10 goals through 11 games so far.
Moving up the field, Bordeaux’s Otávio and Toma Bašić provide cover for the back four and will be kept busy tracking PSG forward players. Hatem Ben Arfa, now aged 33, can still provide magic when needed for his team. The two Nigerians, Samuel Kalu and former Sunderland striker Josh Maja, are leading goal scorers with two goals each. Both are quick and strong players that will need to be at the top of their game if they are going to get past PSG’s defence. Bordeaux will realise that they will not be seeing much of the ball during this match and will need to be clinical when their chances do come.
PSG will more than likely start a strong 11 as they will be looking to further boost their gap at the top of the table. Thomas Tuchel will also feel the pressure and not want to suffer back to back league defeats. Barring any injuries from their mid-week UEFA Champions League match against RB Leipzig, the Parisians lineup should look a lot like the above formation of 4-4-2. PSG’s 4-4-2 formation when in possession can augment into a 2-4-4 formation with the full-back and wingers pushing further up the field. Neymar and Draxler will push up and inside in number ten positions to provide creativity and passing options inside. Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappé will try and run in behind the older and slower defenders of Bordeaux. PSG currently lead the league in goals scored with 28, whilst Bordeaux’s tally is second-worst with only 10. If PSG do manage to score early, it would not be surprising to see them put quite a few past Bordeaux. That being said, however, Bordeaux will recognise that PSG can be beaten and the fact that they will not have a mid-week match will also help them. We will now examine what went wrong for PSG against Monaco and how Bordeaux will look to exploit this against them on Saturday.
PSG’s loss to Monaco
PSG’s loss to Monaco would come as surprise given the fact they had a two goal lead going into halftime, however, once Cesc Fàbregas was brought on for Monaco, the tides completely shifted. Bordeaux will not be able to call on the former Barcelona player in their match at the weekend, but they can try and replicate the outcome by pressing PSG as Monaco did. Monaco made the match difficult for PSG as they did not allow them to have the game be played their way. They pressed PSG and got tight to them when they were in possession.
Monaco can be seen here in a 4-4-2 defensive formation. The wide midfielders have come narrow to cut off the passing lanes for PSG’s central players to their wide players. Kevin Volland can be seen here standing next to Idrissa Gueye and he will press him when he is given the ball. If one of PSG’s central midfielders did collect the ball they would be immediately shut down as seen below.
Here we can see Danilo Pereira received the ball from Colin Dagna in a central position. When he receives the ball he is quickly pressed by two Monaco players. There is also Monaco’s wide midfielder Sofaine Diop, who is blocking off the passing lane to Ángel Di María. The pressure by Aurélien Tchouaméni was able to block Pereira from advancing the ball forward and recycling possession. This shows an example of how Monaco were defending against PSG and their prevention of PSG advancing the ball forward. This is an example that Bordeaux should identify to prevent PSG. The pressing required to play against PSG like this is exhausting, but it can pay off when done collectively. The tactics of pressing used by Monaco would eventually pay off as the winning goal for Monaco came from pressing as seen below.
Colin Dagba is seen here making a back pass to the centreback Abdou Diallo. When the pass is made, Kevin Volland sprints forward to close him down. Diallo, under pressure, looks to make a pass out of the back rather than clearing the ball. He is about to pass the ball to Leandro Paredes, but Sofaine Diop closes him down and ultimately stumbles while on the ball.
Kevin Volland would run into the box and Diallo is left with the only option of bringing Volland down in the box. Fabregas would go on to score the winning penalty from this phase of play. However, this penalty would have not been possible without the relentless pressure used by Monaco’s press. PSG is not used to playing under constant pressure. They are used to teams sitting back and defending deep hoping to soak up pressure and have a chance at hitting PSG on the break. For Bordeaux, the task of beating PSG will not be easy but if they are looking to get a result from this match they will have to realize that disrupting PSG tactics of play will aid them in getting results in this match.
PSG’s efficient counter
We have shown an analysis of how Bordeaux will look to exploit PSG by staying tight to PSG’s central midfielders and pressing efficiently to disrupt the way PSG want to play. However, Tuchel will be well aware of this and will be spending lots of time trying to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We will now look at how PSG will try and turn around last week’s defeat and get back to their usual high standard.
PSG have been dominant this season in attacking metrics and they are complete outliers for goals scored. They have scored a total of 28 goals this season, the next closest being Monaco with 20. PSG also lead the league in xG with 27.7, shots on target: 69, and shots on target percentage with 39.4%. The reason they lead these attacking metrics is that when they win, they win the ball in areas that allow them to be successful. What we mean by this is that PSG is extremely clinical in transitions. They have the ability to quickly move the ball upfield and get behind opposition defenders. An example of this counter-attacking play can be seen here.
PSG had just won the ball back in their match against NÎmes and Idrissa Gueye unpressured passed the ball forward to the unmarked Pablo Sarabia. As soon as this ball was played, PSG’s forwards and full-backs began to burst forward in behind the defence of the opposition.
The quick transition was unexpected by the Nimes players as they can be seen standing flat-footed here. Sarabia had received the ball unmarked in the half-space, allowing himself to pass the ball in behind for Mbappé. Mbappé went on to score here as he was in behind and just left with the keeper to beat. This phase of play only took three passes vertically from winning the ball back to scoring. They can quickly transition from defending to attacking to catch the opposition defence out. The Nimes midfield is bypassed and sprinting back, unable to aid their defence.
Another example of PSG’s efficiency to win them back and explode forward can be seen in their first goal against Monaco seen below.
PSG are defending very deep and narrow here. Having the wide midfielders Ángel Di María and Pablo Sarabia tucked inside. Moise Kean, highlighted in yellow, has also dropped back in support of winning the ball back.
Moise Kean would win the ball back in midfield, and the ball would be quickly played out by Di María to Mbappé who’s rapid speed allowed him to get on the end of the through ball and go on and score the open goal against Monaco. This phase of play took a total of three passes for the ball to be won back and then scored. PSG are extremely efficient at scoring once they win the ball back from defensive play. They defend tight in central areas and when they win the ball back explodes forward to catch out opposition defences. With Neymar also back in the side, they will be looking to catch Bordeaux on the break as well this weekend.
PSG’s defeat to Monaco last weekend came from their inability to play against a team that defended tight centrally and pressed them in their own half. Bordeaux will look to try and replicate what was done by Monaco by it will not be an easy task. PSG will be looking to right their wrongs from last weekend and will want to be back at their best. They will need to play to their strengths and be clinical on the counter as they so often are this season.