League leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) will look to maintain their undefeated home record in Ligue 1 when they take on an in-form Toulouse side on Saturday afternoon (4 February). The Parisians have not been beaten at home in Ligue 1 since April 2021, recording 27 wins and five draws in that stretch.
PSG, who are five points clear of second-placed Marseille at the top of the table, are coming into Saturday’s game with a 3-1 win over Montpellier (1 February). While the win was straightforward, it came at a grave cost.
Kylian Mbappe, who has scored 25 goals in 26 games this season, picked up a thigh injury during the game and has been sidelined for three weeks. He is set to miss the first leg of the Champions League Round-of-16 clash against Bayern Munich on February 14.
Toulouse, on the other hand, are at the top of their game, enjoying a five-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1, out of which they have won four.
In the reverse fixture, PSG secured an easy 3-0 win over Les Pitchouns. However, with Mbappe ruled out, Neymar a major doubt due to an ankle problem, and Sergio Ramos down with a head injury, PSG could struggle to match Toulouse’s intensity.
Here is the lineup coach Christophe Galtier could pick for their Ligue 1 gameweek 22 appointment with Toulouse:
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Gianluigi Donnarumma was pretty much untroubled in the Parisians’ 3-1 win over Montpellier.
He had to make only two saves and could do very little to stop Arnaud Nordin’s 89th-minute strike from going in. He might have a busier outing this weekend.
Right-back: Achraf Hakimi
Achraf Hakimi was one of the PSG’s best performers against Montpellier. He made three key passes, completed a game-high five dribbles, and assisted Warren Zaire-Emery’s 92nd-minute strike by releasing him at the perfect time.
The Morocco international will be required to bring his A-game once again against Toulouse.
Center-back: Timothee Pembele
With Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe, and Nordi Mukiele all ruled out due to injuries, 20-year-old defender Timothy Pembele is expected to start at the heart of the defense on Saturday.
The youngster is yet to play in Ligue 1 this season but looked quite impressive in the 7-0 French Cup Round-of-32 win over Pays de Cassel. He created a chance, completed 15 passes, and made six recoveries.
Marquinhos produced a sure-footed performance against Montpellier on 1 February, doing all the basics right. He completed 70 passes (97.2% accuracy), delivered five accurate long balls, won all three of his duels, and lost possession only twice. It will be interesting to see how he copes without the experienced Ramos beside him.
Left-back: Nuno Mendes
Having recovered from a hamstring injury, Nuno Mendes returned to Ligue 1 action against Montpellier. He was not at his explosive best on Wednesday but that is to be expected after such a lengthy layoff.
The Portuguese is expected to be given more minutes against Toulouse to regain his confidence before the Champions League showdown against Bayern Munich.
Defensive midfield: Danilo Pereira
With Marco Verratti serving time out courtesy of his red card against Reims, Galtier could opt for a four-man midfield against Toulouse, placing Danilo Pereira at the base of it.
The Portuguese midfielder looked sharp against Montpellier, making three interceptions, recording four clearances and delivering six accurate long balls from deep. He could be instrumental in breaking Toulouse’s rhythm on Saturday.
Right midfield: Carlos Soler
Carlos Soler operated on the right side of PSG’s midfield against Montpellier. He rarely threatened to create or score but his link-up play with Lionel Messi was noteworthy.
Galtier could give the Spaniard another opportunity to come good this weekend.
Central midfield: Renato Sanches
At the post-match conference on Wednesday, Renato Sanches expressed his discontent over game time. The Portugal international insisted he was fully fit now and claimed that he needed more minutes to get back to his best.
With Vitinha operating below par since the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Galtier could look to give Sanches the opportunity he so desperately craves.
Left midfield: Fabian Ruiz
Fabian Ruiz was the standout player in PSG’s win over Montpellier. The former Napoli man ran the show from the left side of midfield, scoring the opener in the 55th minute and playing a slide rule pass to assist Messi for PSG’s second.
Following such a stunning performance, Ruiz ought to be an automatic pick for Galtier against Toulouse.
Right forward: Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi dinked the ball past the Montpellier keeper to give PSG a 2-0 lead in the 72nd minute. The 2022 World Cup winner also completed three dribbles, played two key passes, and delivered three accurate long balls.
In Mbappe and possibly Neymar’s absence, all eyes will be on Messi to step up and lead PSG’s attack.
Left forward: Hugo Ekitike
PSG’s young attacker Hugo Ekitike has produced the goods whenever called upon this season. The 20-year-old has scored thrice in 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season and will look to add to his tally this Saturday.
Ekitike brilliantly assisted Ruiz’s goal against Montpellier on Wednesday, expertly spotting his run and finding him with a header into the middle of the box. He was also unlucky not to score, with him hitting the woodwork with a low drive in the 62nd minute.
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