Christopher Galtier was dealt with a major blow in their first match of 2023 when fellow title contenders Lens stunned Paris Saint-Germain with a 3-1 victory. This was a result that came out of the blue and took plenty of fans by surprise, most certainly the ones supporting PSG. That victory brought Lens within six points of the Parisian side and are currently three points shy of the top place having played one game extra.
They have a tricky away travel to navigate through against Rennes, who have been in top form as well this season. Although things haven’t worked very well in their favor since the FIFA World Cup 2022 ended, Rennes continue to remain in the top four and are looking for the right occasion to garner the momentum back. What could be a better time than this to strike back and solidify their chances of finishing in a Champions League position than a fixture against PSG at home?
A full house is expected at the Roazhon Park for this clash, which has witnessed some very exciting games over the last few years. Les Rouge et Noir have been the bane of Paris Saint Germain’s existence in recent times and have defeated them more number of times than any other team in the league since the big money take over by the Qatari owners. Add to it, Roazhon Park has not been the kindest of venues for the visitors, who have come away with just one point from their last three trips to the venue.
Rennes’ European ambitions lie very much within their control. They are five points underneath Marseille who are in the third spot and Monaco are fifth only by goal difference. Bruno Genesio has plenty of problems heading into this fixture, who has to deal with two suspensions and also the absence of top goal-scorer Martin Terrier, whose ACL injury is set to rule him out for the remainder of 2022-23.
Their last game turned out to be a massive disappointment for the fans as two Rennes players, Benjamin Bourigeaud and Warmed Omari, were handed red cards, leaving the side down to nine men against Clermont. Adding insult to injury, they put on a reslient effort nearly all throughout the match despite the obvious disadvantage, but conceded a 95th minute winner that saw them return with no points in the kitty.
For Paris Saint-Germain, normalcy seems to have been restored with the return of World Cup-winner Lionel Messi. The Argentine maestro was in action straight away, scoring a 72nd second minute goal to establish a 2-0 lead against Angers in a game where Galtier’s team was tested defensively. Kylian Mbappe was absent for this fixture, but Neymar and Messi saw the side through with a crucial contribution from youngster Hugo Ektite.
Defeat at the home of Lens on New Year’s Day ended a 12-game unbeaten run for PSG away from home in the French top flight, but only five goals shipped on the road is still a division low, and the closest challengers to their league-high 25 away goals are Monaco and Troyes with 19 apiece.
PSG also have the best goal-scoring and defensive record in the division, as they most usually do, despite getting off to a shaky start under the new manager. Their European ambitions hang by a thread having drawn Bayern Munich in the round of 16 and would prefer not to have any excess drama in the competition where they have dominated for over a decade.
REN vs PSG, Ligue 1 2022/23
Date: January 16, 2023
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Roahzon Park, Rennes
Rennes Ligue 1 form:
Rennes form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
Rennes wins: 8
Paris Saint-Germain wins: 17
Rennes team news:
Following their red cards in the defeat to Clermont, Rennes duo Omari and Bourigeaud will serve one-game suspensions for the visit of the champions, and the latter’s place should be filled by Croatian playmaker Lovro Majer.
Christopher Wooh was chosen to come off the bench over Joe Rodon last time out and will seemingly keep the Tottenham Hotspur loanee at bay as he deputises for Omari, while ACL victim Terrier is joined in the treatment room by Xeka and Baptiste Santamaria, who are both nursing ankle problems.
There are fears that Xeka’s issue could render the Portuguese midfielder out for several weeks, leaving 18-year-old Lesley Ugochukwu to man the engine room alongside Flavien Tait for the time being. With Terrier out, Kalimuendo will aim to strut his stuff against his former club.
Captain Hamari Traore has been mentioned as a possible transfer target for Fulham, although Cottagers boss Marco Silva has since denied that his side are interested in the Mali right-back.
Paris Saint-Germain team news:
While Rennes have lost their star attacker, PSG will welcome back theirs after Mbappe returned from his New York holiday with Achraf Hakimi, who was not available to face Angers through suspension anyway.
Galtier is also confident that Renato Sanches will be back for Sunday’s game, but Marco Verratti was another notable absentee from the win over Angers after picking up a thigh injury and will need further assessment. Meanwhile, Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes continue their recoveries from Achilles and thigh issues respectively.
Sunday’s match should see the reunion of the Messi-Mbappe-Neymar for the first time since the World Cup, as Ekitike prepares to drop out despite scoring four goals in his last five appearances in all tournaments.
Rennes possible starting lineup:
Mandanda; Traore, Wooh, Theate, Truffert; Majer, Ugochukwu, Tait; Doku, Kalimuendo, Gouiri
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Ramos, Bernat; Vitinha, Pereira, Ruiz; Messi; Mbappe, Neymar
The Roahzon Park misery might not be much of a threat for PSG players this time, atleast mentally. Their top stars are all available, with the hosts losing out on some crucial players for this big clash. The ambition of plotting an iconic front three like that of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr is a difficult thing to imagine and despite the trio not showcasing their best team skills yet, like how Messi-Neymar-Suarez did at Barcelona, you could sense that the best is yet to come.
Galtier also has the attacking brilliance of Achraf Hakimi back in the team, supplementing the team’s strength further. The team have been reliant on a few good moments to get the job done and when you have the quality of players like PSG do, such moments are bound to occur at regular intervals.
Adding to the current predicant for Les Rouges et Noir is the fact that they have also gone five games without a clean sheet in Ligue 1. Quite remarkably, they have also scored in each of their last 32 matches in the division, and they have strung together an eight-game winning streak at Roazhon Park since going down to Lorient on the opening weekend of the season. But would that be enough to stop the Parisians will be the question answered with no conviction.
Rennes will try to live up to their strengths and defend with all ferocity. However, they should ideally be prepared for a scenario where they don’t find themselves in a position to keep a cleansheet, as it seems incredibly difficult to achieve in this climate against this team. If their existing crop can conjure up some magic on the counters, they could avoid the inevitable.
However, our prediction is for PSG to win this fixture 2-1.