Scouting the enemy: A guide to Paris Saint-Germain

(Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images) /

Strengths and Weaknesses


PSG depend a lot on their attackers, especially Neymar. The Brazilian constantly pops in between the lines to receive the ball from the midfield, lays it off to a midfielder, and would look to exploit the space behind the back line. His shots from outside the box and set pieces are dangerous and effective and Real Madrid should look to avoid foolish fouls around their box.

The Paris midfield plays a close triangle and they look to control the ball in the middle of the pitch. Wing forwards drop in frequently to the midfield to allow the fullbacks to overlap. Fullbacks look to offer wing play which could lead to crosses for Mbappe and Cavani.

Those two are capable of darting runs through the heart of opposition defense to meet the incoming ball. Ramos and Varane will need support from the defensive midfielder to stop those runs.

Another strength of PSG, which could really hurt Real Madrid is the pace down both the wings. Neymar and Mbappe are seriously quick and could really exploit the space behind Marcelo, given the Brazilian’s lack of pace. Expect PSG to continuously make runs behind the Madrid back-line. It’ll be a busy night for Keylor Navas.


Finding weaknesses in a side which has been in the form like this Paris Saint-Germain side might sound like a rhetoric, or so it would seem. After spending some time on matches that PSG lost, things begin to fall in perspective. There are glaring issues for PSG across the pitch and Bayern exploited each one of those in their 3-1 win in the group stage.

The most obvious one is the amount of space PSG leaves in the midfield. Bayern exploited it perfectly by overcrowding the midfield. It left no space for the midfield to reach to their forwards or advance the fullbacks.

As a result, Mbappe and Neymar had to drop deep to retrieve the ball. Consequently, their effectiveness going forward was impacted. Zidane would have surely referred to the game in the preparations for this game.

The other glaring weakness of the squad is defending set pieces. Out of 17 goals PSG have conceded in Ligue 1, seven are from set pieces.

Real Madrid could look to exploit this gap as they excel in such dead ball situation. In Areola, PSG has a goalkeeper who tends to leave his line and come forward to collect the ball. Real Madrid has an excellent opportunity there, with players like Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Gareth Bale who are dead ball specialists.

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Paris also has a specific weakness to stop opponents from creating goalscoring opportunities from open play. As a result, PSG has conceded six out 17 in Ligue 1 and three out four goals in Champions League from open play.

Zinedine Zidane will really depend on his midfield for this tie. Given how PSG approaches any game, the midfielders will have to do a lot of two-way work. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will be key to the way Real Madrid shape for the 180 minutes against PSG, given their capacity to control games.

They have time and again proved their resistance to press. It is that attribute, along with their game controlling capabilities, that is the most important for Los Blancos.

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