Paris Saint-Germain will face Belgian side Club Brugge KV at the Jan Breydel Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. to open up their 2021/22 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Last season, PSG defeated FC Barcelona and FC Bayern Munich to reach the semifinals of the competition. There, they would be subsequently eliminated by the runner-up of the 2020/21 tournament, Manchester City, who dominated the Parisians throughout both legs.
The main objective in the French capital has not changed, as they continue to strive for their first ever Champions League trophy. Due to the lack of domestic competition in Ligue 1, it is almost a guarantee that the Parisians will lift both the league title and the Coupe de France. As a result, the club’s sole focus to conquer Europe’s most prestigious trophy creates an immense amount of pressure, both for the team and managerial staff alike.
In the pre-match press conference, Paris manager Mauricio Pochettino attempted to downplay the amount of pressure felt at the club: “The pressure exists among all the big clubs,” he said. While one must commend his attempt at diversifying the pressure, the reality is that no other European club is as demanded to win the Champions League as are PSG.
Center back Marquinhos, who serves as club captain, also acknowledged that there is a certain degree of pressure. Nevertheless, the Brazilian international was more keen on discussing Paris’ upcoming match against Brugge.
Marquinhos stated how nice it was to face such a great team as Brugge in the pre-match press conference. Pochettino also heaped praise upon the reigning Belgian Pro League champions: “Club Brugge is a great team. They have different playing systems. It will be a great game because the best teams play in this competition,” he said.
Pochettino also answered questions as it related to the starting lineup: “The starting 11 has not been decided yet, there are still some doubts after the last game. We will have to wait for the last training session,” he said. While he did say nothing was confirmed as it related to the starting lineup, Pochettino did state that attacking midfielder Neymar Jr., winger Lionel Messi and forward Kylian Mbappe could potentially start tomorrow night. This would be the first time that all three players would be on the pitch at the same time since PSG acquired Messi over the summer.
Marquinhos commented on the tactical setup of the team if all three were on the pitch at the same time: “Everyone will know what to do on the pitch. If the three of them (Neymar, Messi, Mbappe) play up front, they are experienced, they know that we have to be compact, defend together. If we have to talk to them, we will do it.”
According to French media outlet RMC Sport, Messi was at the front of the attacking line during Tuesday’s training session, which gives more credibility to the potential inclusion of the Argentine in the starting 11.
PSG have yet to field their strongest squad, due to a multitude of factors such as injuries and international breaks. However, that will most likely change tomorrow night, as the club’s strongest lineup will most certainly be fielded.
Keylor Navas would be in goal, the backline would consist of center-backs Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe, along with the fullback duo of Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes. The midfield would be made up of Idrissa Gana Gueye, Georginio Wijnaldum and Ander Herrera, and the front three would consist of Neymar, Messi and Mbappe.
Paris will look to secure the three points against Brugge in what is bound to be a difficult match. With English side Manchester City and German side RB Leipzig also in Group A, it is crucial that PSG secure these three point against a side which, on paper, is inferior to the French giants.