The French giants arrive at the Sammy Ofer Stadium on the back of a run of results that have seen them overtake most of the opposition. There should be a slight change in the script in Matchday 2 of this season’s UEFA Champions League.
The Israeli giants have impressed in their domestic league but have historically struggled to make it in Europe’s top competition. Their first outing in the competition in 13 years ended in a 2-0 defeat to Benfica
Baraka Bakhar’s side have had their moments this season, notably in their 4-0 win over Olympiacos in the qualifying stages. Maccabi Haifa also held on in the first half against Benfica before being gifted a mad dash after the break. While they will be hoping to put up a fight against PSG, especially at home, the quality of the visitors should ultimately decide.
PSG will be hoping to pull away as quickly as possible and secure qualification for the last 16. With Juventus and Benfica facing each other, this presents a golden opportunity for the French side to consolidate top spot in the group. Until they are intimidated by the home atmosphere, Christophe Galtier et al. could be set to another known day at the office.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides might line up on the night and what tactics they might use.
Maccabi Haifa go into the game sans the injured duo of Mahmoud Jaber and Suf Podgoreanu. Raz Meir is another player who has a 50-50 chance of making the matchday squad on the night.
Barak Bakhar has an otherwise full-strength side to choose from for the game. He is likely to deploy his side in a 3-5-2 formation that will, to an extent, ape PSG’s setup on the night. Josh Cohen should start in goal behind the back three of Abdoulaye Seck, Dylan Batubinsika and Sean Goldberg.
The trio could struggle to keep up with PSG’s indomitable front three, forcing wing-backs Daniel Sundgren and Dolev Haziza to drop back and revert to a 5-3-2 formation. The midfield trio of Tjaronn Chery, Neta Lavi and Mohammad Abu Fani will have a big job on their hands to neutralise Marco Verratti and Vitinha’s grip in central midfield.
Doing so will ensure that the striker duo of Frantzdy Pierrot and Dean David will have opportunities to cling on to against an experienced but at times naive PSG backline.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cohen; Seck, Batubinsika, Goldberg; Sundgren, Chery, Lavi, Fani, Haziza; Pierrot, David
PSG will be without senior defender Presnel Kimpembe, who injured himself in the win over Brest at the weekend. Apart from Renato Sanches, who faces a late fitness test, Christophe Galtier has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from with several options available.
He is unlikely to deviate from the 3-4-3 formation that has brought the best out of his attacking trio. PSG have suffocated opposing teams the last few weeks by attacking them relentlessly, and another fast start could set the ball rolling on the night.
Gianluigi Donnarumma appears to have rediscovered his touch and should start between the sticks. Sergio Ramos will keep his position in the back three with Danilo Pereira and Marquinhos coming into the playing XI. The rearguard has both experience and the ability to thwart a comparatively inferior opposition attack.
Achraf Hakimi looks set to continue at right wing-back with Nuno Mendes coming in for Juan Bernat on the opposite wing. Marco Verratti and Vitinha have been the cornerstone of PSG’s midfield dominance, and Galtier is unlikely to drop the duo unless otherwise forced to.
The front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe more or less picks itself and could be the deciding factor in the game. Mbappe and Neymar have reportedly not been on the best of terms of late, and it remains to be seen how the duo get along on the field.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Donnarumma; Ramos, Pereira, Marquinhos; Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Mendes; Messi, Neymar, Mbappe