Cursed grass. On March 8, 2017, the day of the “remount” suffered by PSG against Barça (1-6), Angel Di Maria had to sit on the sidelines at Camp Nou because of muscle pain. He finally came into play in the 65th to try to lend a hand to his partners without being able to avoid disaster.
The Argentine will not even see the legendary Blaugrana stadium. Early Tuesday afternoon, Mauricio Pochettino formalized the withdrawal of his striker against Caen on Wednesday and especially Barcelona in a week, in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League. “There will be a reassessment of his case in a week, but he will not be able to be there”, announced the Argentine technician two days after the thigh injury of his compatriot against OM.
Fears of a package had been strong since Sunday and the exit of the field of number 11 in the 11th minute. And the Parisian staff preferred not to stretch the suspense.
A blow for Pochettino
The absence of Di Maria is a big blow for Pochettino. The new PSG coach had made him one of his basic men since his arrival. So much so that the “Fideo” – in delicacy with Tuchel during his last weeks of mandate for physical problems – had started all the meetings since the beginning of the year and the assumption of functions of his compatriot.
The latter will therefore have to reinvent himself and reorganize his attack without his right lane player author of a goal and 4 assists in 2021. It is not so much the effectiveness of Di Maria in front of the goal that will be lacking. But rather this role of transmission belt that the former Madrid player plays within this workforce.
We saw it again on Sunday evening at the Vélodrome with the millimeter pass in the Mbappé race, or the aerial openings for Icardi during the Champions Trophy and its carbon copy in the direction of Sarabia against Nîmes. Each time with goals.
Towards a three-way midfielder
To replace injured Di Maria, Pochettino chose to launch his understudy, Pablo Sarabia, against Marseille. A coherent option, but which must also be scrutinized in the light of the absence of Neymar. Weakened by gastroenteritis, the Brazilian was among the replacements at the Vélodrome before entering on time. Next Tuesday, except for injury or last minute illness, the Parisian number 10 will be on the lawn of Camp Nou, his old stadium. It’s less obvious for Sarabia.
Indeed, the former technician from Tottenham could be tempted to “strengthen” his midfielder. What he did in Marseille by lining up a trio made up of Gueye, Paredes and Verratti behind his attacking trio. In view of the compositions established during the last eight games, we can almost assure that Paredes and Verratti are untouchable and will start in Catalonia to accompany the trident Mbappé, Icardi, Neymar. There remains third place in midfield if Pochettino decides to evolve into 4-3-3. In Marseille, the Parisian coach had decided to place his trust in Idrissa Gueye. The Senegalese acted as double pivot with Paredes, leaving Verratti to evolve more freely in a “box-to-box” role.
It is an interesting option, which did not allow PSG to have a stranglehold on the ball, but to evolve with a low block and rapid transitions to the front. In this diagram, Danilo Pereira and Herrera are direct competitors to Gueye, but they suffer, for different reasons, from a long delay on the Senegalese. There remains the alternative Rafinha, with a more playful profile. This would allow PSG to have more creativity in the midfield, even if for the moment, the former Barcelona does not enjoy great consideration with the technical staff. Pochettino has less than a week to refine his choices.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr