Fair play to RC Lens. PSG haven’t even played a game in Ligue 1 yet and somehow they’re still behind the Parisians in the league.
And you can probably expect them never to recover from this deficit, either – as grim as it sounds. This is the reality of the French top tier as PSG embark on a mission to equal Saint Etienne’s title record and finally put an end to any doubt that they’re unfortunately the biggest club in France.
But I’m not so sure it’ll go as smoothly as most think early on. I won’t get into the painstakingly dull clichés of this season being unprecedented and all the nonsense commentators are throwing out before every single game of football on the planet, but you know yourself.
PSG haven’t played a game since the Champions League final which was over two and a half weeks ago. Their pre-season camp has also been disrupted by international windows, so I’d suspect they might not be the same side you’re accustomed to watching on BT on Sunday evenings.
So, can Lens sneak one? Here’s your three best bets for this bizarrely scheduled Thursday night encounter at 20:00 in Pas-de-Calais.
I think this one is a safe bet for a number of reasons, but the primary one is due to the fact that Thomas Tuchel’s emphasis will be firmly placed on ball retention.
They’re going to have to treat this as a training session rather than a fully-fledged season opener as their fitness levels will be all over the place due to the odd preparation.
At least by keeping the ball you can ensure you’re not broken down and you can play at your own pace. Lens will be content enough with this outcome as they’ll be holding onto a point.
That goal may never come, but the longer it takes to arrive the tighter Lens will get at the back and fewer players will be committed forward. This is set up to be a single-goal win, but the insurance here is to take the Clean Sheet for PSG.
Lens looked particularly susceptible to big leapers in their opening game against Nice, and the towering centre halves at PSG – specifically Presnel Kimpembe – could well take advantage.
From open play, Lens generally looked okay defensively. But their woes were of their own doing, as they frequently gave the ball away from trying to play out from the back.
Expect the emphasis to be on going longer in terms of distribution from goal kicks and free kicks inside their own half to alleviate this issue, thus making set piece goals all the more likely to be the source of chances in a tightly-contested matchup.
If PSG do take the lead, don’t anticipate that they’ll try to find more goals. Conversely, with Lens sitting in, they’ll rely on hold-up play for whichever of their rotating number 9s they decide to go with this week.
They generally can’t execute this element of their gameplan very well, so bodies being in the final third is probably something PSG won’t have to worry about.
This is all sets us up for a cracking encounter doesn’t it? Unfortnuately Under 2.5 Goals is the way forward here.
Tips for Lens v Paris St-Germain on Thursday at 20:00
*The odds are always bang up to date on our snazzy widgets*
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