Marco Verratti needs to set tone and help PSG avoid complacency against Manchester United

Aditya Devavrat 19:33 05/03/2019
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Marco Verratti will want to banish memories of last year's Champions League exit.

Paris Saint-Germain are in command of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Manchester United, having won the first leg 2-0 with the second leg at home on Wednesday.

Their superb performance from the first leg has given manager Thomas Tuchel some breathing space going into this fixture, with complacency now his side’s biggest enemy as they look to seal a quarter-final berth.

Here’s a look at the tactical talking points likely weighing on Tuchel’s mind heading into the second leg. Check out our analysis of United’s tactical options here.

LET VERRATTI DICTATE PROCEEDINGS

Though PSG are in a commanding position, it will take only one United goal for the nerves to kick in again. And the surest way for United to disrupt PSG’s rhythm is to target their lead midfielder.

They’ll have noted Verratti’s impact in the first leg – he had the most touches and passes in the game – and will be paying him close attention this time around.

The Italian will need support to keep PSG in control of the game. Keep feeding the Italian the ball, make sure there’s a player close by in case he needs to recycle possession, and give him attacking runs to find with his pinpoint passing, and PSG will dominate. Simple enough in theory – they do it every week – but this time, they’ll have to do it while adjusting to United’s counter-plan for the midfielder.

0305 PSG Verratti

TUCHEL’S FORMATION OPTIONS

Tuchel used a 4-2-3-1 formation in the first leg, with Marquinhos sitting alongside Verratti and Dani Alves deployed as a winger, though in attack it often looked more like a 3-4-2-1 as Juan Bernat pushed forward. Though the success in that game may tempt Tuchel to adopt the same tactics this time around, he’s also been experimenting with his tactics in recent weeks.

PSG have played in a 3-5-2, 4-4-2 (twice), and 3-4-3 in the four games since their win over United. The German has a preference for formations with three at the back and he may think that the work rate demanded in such a set-up will help guard against complacency. At the same time, it also leaves space behind the wing-backs that someone like Marcus Rashford would love to exploit.

Could pragmatism rule the day? PSG have a two-goal lead, and playing four at the back will give them enough cover against United’s counter-attacks.

0305 PSG Pragmatism

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