In what has been an entertaining Group C so far, matchday three sees French champions Paris Saint-Germain face Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. Thomas Tuchel’s side enter as favourites, despite currently sitting third in Group C. Napoli remain unbeaten after two games, beating Liverpool and drawing with Red Star Belgrade before their trip to Paris. A competitive game on paper, Napoli will make things difficult for Tuchel and his team, as they proved in their win over Liverpool on matchday two.
Paris Saint-Germain Host Napoli
Entering as favourites, Paris Saint-Germain will be without a few key players on Wednesday. Veteran full-back Dani Alves is still out with a knee injury, with Thomas Meunier set to start once again. On the other side, left-back Layvin Kurzawa will also miss out (back). Beating Amiens 5-0 at the weekend, the win came with a poorly timed injury. Key man Marco Verratti was subbed after pulling his hamstring, which makes the Italian midfielder a doubt for Wednesday’s game. Expected to set-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Tuchel has some decisions to make. Alphonse Areola is expected to keep his place, with Gianluigi Buffon still suspended. With Verratti likely out, Tuchel will either start Lassana Diarra or defender Marquinhos in midfield on Wednesday. Angel Di Maria also faces a late fitness test.
Group C toppers Napoli are almost back to full strength, as three key players return. Lorenzo Insigne returns after missing Saturday’s 3-0 win over Udinese (fatigue). Sure to play a key role, Insigne should return to the starting lineup on Wednesday. Full-back Faouzi Ghoulam returns after a long-term injury, but it’s unlikely the Algerian starts. Backup goalkeeper Alex Meret also returns, with on-loan Arsenal keeper David Ospina set to start. However, Ancelotti lost key man Simone Verdi just four minutes into Saturday’s win 3-0 win against Udinese. Set to play their usual 4-3-3, Napoli will look to counter on Wednesday, with players like Insigne playing a key role. The Italian forward does face a late fitness test before the game.
The Importance of This Game
As Liverpool face Red Star Belgrade at Anfield, it’s fair to say both Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli expect Jürgen Klopp’s team to walk away with all three points. This makes Wednesday’s game even more important. As Liverpool look to top the group heading into matchday four, a win for Napoli or PSG would be vital. To put it simply, a draw for a Napoli would be bad, but a draw for PSG would be a disaster.
Paris Saint-Germain will rely on the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani to carry them to victory once again. They face a tough to break down Napoli team, that don’t give away cheap goals. Deploying hard working, defensive minded midfielders like Allan and potentially Amadou Diawara or Fabian Ruiz, Napoli have a formula capable of going to Paris and pulling off an upset. Centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly will play a key role, marking Cavani and on occasion, Kylian Mbappe.
Against Liverpool, PSG struggled in the midfield, with Klopp’s team controlling the middle of the park. This was due to a real lack of genuine talent in that area, as well as their forward-thinking players failing to track back when necessary. If this happens again, PSG will be playing right into Napoli’s hands, giving Ancelotti’s team an opportunity to overrun the middle. Six Champions League games without a clean sheet, there’s every chance PSG slip up and concede on Wednesday.
One thing is for certain, this game will not finish goalless. Over the previous three Champions League seasons, PSG have averaged 3.6 goals per game. Not only have Tuchel’s team scored in their last 18 Champions League games, but they also come in having won 10 games out of 10 in Ligue 1 this season. Scoring 49 goals in the process, PSG is a team to be feared going forward. A squad full of confidence, Neymar and others will look to take a significant step towards qualifying for the knockout stages. Expect Napoli to play a cautious, possession-based style, with Ancelotti adapting as the game goes on. PSG always score goals, that won’t change this time around, as Tuchel’s team have the talent to eventually break down a resilient Napoli team looking to steal three points away from home.
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