Deprived of Kylian Mbappé, PSG must find depth
Having to do without Kylian Mbappé, at least for the next five matches (Toulouse, Marseille, Monaco, Bayern Munich, Lille), will profoundly change the way Paris-Saint-Germain play. The Frenchman brings a depth to PSG’s game that no one in the squad can fill. It is in this management of the vertical game that Christophe Galtier will have to find a solution to compensate for the absence of his striker.
It’s a blow for the French coach who is struggling to find the space-devouring team that we saw at the start of the season. In this area, Mbappé is a size, well accompanied in Paris by Neymar, Nuno Mendes and Achraf Hakimi. In the pass, Lionel Messi, Marco Verratti and Vitinha feasted before the World Cup. But these players have evolved too little together, 100%, at the same time.
After Mbappé’s exit from Montpellier (3-1, Wednesday), Galtier chose not to change the system by bringing in Hugo Ekitike. The former Rémois evolves in a totally different register: less mobile and more pivotal. This also requires change from his partners, in particular Messi, who is more often present in the area.
Without Mbappé, the opponent can press higher
Montpellier, on the other hand, did not take advantage of this at all to try to come and press the Parisians higher. This will surely be one of the most visible consequences in the coming weeks. Without the world champion, the opponents will be less afraid of leaving spaces and will be able to come and press Paris in his half of the field.
The roles of Nuno Mendes and Hakimi will be essential to come and make deep runs behind the back of the opposing defense. Galtier will also have to designate a midfielder to break the opposing lines. Renato Sanches has the weapons to achieve this but he is often used lower down. This is the profile that Paris was looking for during the winter transfer window, especially with Malcom and Hakim Ziyech.
Renato Sanches has the weapons to bring verticality to the Parisian game. (B. Papon/The Team)
The only “good news” that can be found in the absence of Mbappé is defensively. The first Parisian pressing can be more effective and only Messi will have a lower defensive load. This does not necessarily mean more balance because the mere presence of Mbappé could have slowed down a player like Cancelo in his attacking momentum when facing Bayern Munich.
As was the case with Kyle Walker in the quarter-finals of the World Cup between France and England (2-1). Galtier will therefore have to adapt the game of his team. Not an easy task when PSG will play every three days.