The international break is set to conclude on Wednesday, March 31, with players set to flip the switch and return to their respective clubs. Such a quick transition between squads is bound to have negative effects, but the absence of pity among those in the football world means they’ll have to find a way to get it done.
Paris Saint-Germain will have to ignore the fatigue and prepare themselves for their bout against LOSC Lille on Saturday, April 3 at 11 a.m. The Parisians currently sit in first place with 63 points; while Lille have the same amount of points, they sit in second on goal difference.
PSG is coming off an impressive 4-2 win over third-place Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday, March 21. This victory will be a massive blow to Rudi Garcia’s men, who had been legitimate title contenders at one point in the season. Ultimately, Paris’ intensity from the onset foreshadowed the excellent performance that was as bright as the electric pink and purple on their kit.
Neymar Jr. seems to have fully recovered from his abductor injury. Neymar replaced forward Kylian Mbappe in the 70th minute, and was given 20 minutes to scrape the rust off and find his rhythm, as the squad need the magician from Santos for their bout against Lille. One look at the scoreline against FC Barcelona and Lyonnais and you may question Neymar’s importance, but he showed dominant performances in both matches.
Neymar influences the match in ways that do show up on the stat sheet. He opens the field for others, as defenders are constantly weary of him due to his incredible skill set. Neymar can pick the ball up at midfield and create something out of nothing in a matter of seconds. The lack of creativity without Neymar is evident; although Mbappe is incredible, he is still more of a pure goal scorer than a creator. Midfielders Leandro Paredes and Pablo Sarabia are average at best, which creates problems in Paris’ attack.
All things considered, PSG can afford nothing less than a victory against “Les Dogues.” They would sit three points clear from Lille at the top, and momentum would be on their side heading into their crucial Champions League bout against FC Bayern Munich on Wednesday, April 7 at 3 p.m.
The current European Champions wait menacingly in the shadows, as Hansi Flick’s men are determined to break Parisian hearts for a second consecutive year. The Bavarians defeated PSG 1-0 in last year’s Champions League final to win their fifth Champions League cup in their history. Furthermore, they prevented Paris from lifting their first ever Champions League cup, which means Olympique de Marseille could remain the sole French club to ever win the tournament.
With this in mind, there will definitely be bad blood between the two sides, especially because the Germans aided Marseille, the club all of Paris despises. Of course, PSG’s other main source of motivation will be their drive for revenge against a club they believe they should have beaten.
Paris’ drive for revenge has been overshadowed by the news that forward Robert Lewandowski injured his knee in Poland’s World Cup qualifying match against Andorra. Tobi Altschaffl, a reporter for the German publication Sport Bild, reported on March 29 that Lewandowski will miss Poland’s next match against England. However, Altschaffl also speculated there is a 50% chance for him to participate in Bayern’s match against Leipzig.
However, that same day another German publication reported that the Polish international will undergo further tests on his knee to give the medical staff a better sense of the injury. Bild also reports that as of March 29, he is doubtful for the Bayern’s matchups against RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain.
No one knows for sure what will happen, but for now it’s clear that there is plenty of concern over the injury Lewandowski sustained over the international break.
The main priority for PSG is to focus on themselves, and not let the absence or inclusion of Lewandowski cloud their overall game plan. Regardless of who plays up top for Bayern on April 7, Paris will still need to come out with the same intensity, passion and cohesion that helped them eliminate Barcelona in the Round of 16.