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Gueye, Choupo-Moting Offer Interesting Tactical Options For PSG Vs Bayern Munich

Published by on August 23rd, 2020.


These two do not fit the French club’s preference for superstars, but their workmanlike talents provide variety for Thomas Tuchel in Sunday’s final 

Going into Sunday’s Champions League final, German giants Bayern Munich are just about favourites.

That their superiority is not clear-cut, considering they are going for their sixth European Cup while opponents Paris Saint-Germain have never so much as gotten this far before, speaks to the incredible star power the Parisians possess. It is also an acknowledgement of just how vulnerable Bayern can be, with a perilous high line and a risk-reward balance that can, on occasion, tilt too far in the former direction.

Seeing the opportunity is one thing, exploiting it is another, but making the chances count is crucial. Olympique Lyonnais found this out in the semi-final, Karl Toko-Ekambi in particular guilty of fluffing a number of promising situations. PSG are a different proposition, and offer a greater variety of threats, but the lesson applies just the same.

Thomas Tuchel will have his strongest side available, but faces a fundamental question: to stick, or to twist?

Against RB Leipzig in the semi-final, a midfield three of Marquinhos, Ander Herrera and Leandro Paredes were excellent, controlling and consolidating possession in the middle of the park. Without the ball, they also pressed the Germans into errors, affording Nagelsmann’s oddly flat side a taste of their own medicine.

Bayern will be a very different proposition, possessing as they do the speed that Leipzig lacked in attack.

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It is expected that Marco Verratti will return to the starting 11 for the final, and that should see Paredes lose his spot. However, there is a case that, if PSG need greater solidity in midfield against the Bayern swarm, then Idrissa Gueye is just as important an option for selection.

Until the meeting with Leipzig, the Senegal international had started every Champions League game this season while fit. However, he struggled to influence the quarter-final against Atalanta as part of an overly defensive midfield trio – alongside Herrera and Marquinhos – and saw his place taken by the Argentine Paredes.

So far in the competition, Tuchel’s tendency has been to field the 30-year-old on the right of the midfield three, with Verratti on the left. Indeed, both players have developed something of a synergy in terms of role and function: Gueye harries and chases, and will occasionally push on into the final third, but is not required to do too much heavy lifting in terms of the build-up, while the Italian sits deeper and conducts.

The absence of Verratti from two starting line-ups due to injury has effectively broken up that partnership, but his return to fitness may also mean a return for the final for Gueye. There is, however, a concern: the former Everton midfielder has been largely solid, but has struggled when faced with intense pressure in midfield.

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Two performances in particular come to mind here.

In the Group Stage 2-2 draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, Gueye endured a torrid game, constantly hounded and dispossessed by Toni Kroos; shorn of space to operate away at Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16, he did precious little of note, his ineffectiveness shown up by partner Verratti’s industry.

Clearly then, were he to start, he could provide a walking, breathing pressing trigger for an already ravenous Bayern horde. However, Gueye would also potentially make the side more solid, especially in the event that PSG elect, justifiably, to sit a little deeper and tailor their approach to exploit the space in behind rather than contesting the midfield zone actively.

A less palatable eventuality must also be countenanced by Tuchel: the Germans are the leading scorers in the competition this season, and it is not a stretch to imagine a situation wherein his side find themselves chasing the game in the second half.

While the composition of his forward line – Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria – is pretty much set, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting may have an important role to play in this scenario.

The Cameroon international came up clutch in the last-gasp victory over Atalanta, where despite the presence of Neymar and Mbappe, PSG found themselves struggling for solutions. His lofted ball over the top put the Brazilian in behind for the equalizer, and then he popped up himself with the winner on an emotional night.

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It has been quite the redemption arc for Choupo-Moting.

For so long, it seemed his time with the French champions would be defined solely by that horrendous miss against Strasbourg in April 2019.

To haul himself back from the precipice of ridicule has been nothing short of spectacular, and now far from the coach’s pet (he was managed by Tuchel at Mainz), he has grown into a respected member of the dressing room.

He also offers something different tactically, being able to force opponents back with the sort of aggressive, selfless running that, say, Mauro Icardi is wholly incapable of. If the French side need a proper reference point in the middle, Choupo-Moting could provide that option, forcing the Bayern backline backwards to create space in which Neymar can play.

Sunday’s final will probably mark the Cameroonian’s last appearance for PSG (his contract expires at the end of August), and it would be quite poetic if he were to make a decisive contribution coming off the bench in the biggest game in the club’s history.

It would also, arguably, complete an arc of sorts for the club as a whole: from being defined by glitz and superstars, to a legacy founded on more workmanlike talent.

Like Gueye; like Choupo-Moting.

source:- goal

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