Paris Saint-Germain will enter today’s Champions League clash with Club Brugge knowing that a win would see them book their spot in the knockout-round of the competition with two games to spare.
The French champions have picked up nine points from their three Group A fixtures, thus far, meaning that another victory against third-placed Brugge would see them qualify for the last-16 stage of the tournament.
PSG’s form in this season’s Champions League has been excellent, recording three straight wins over Real Madrid, Galatasaray and Brugge and scoring nine times in the process and conceding zero.
Thomas Tuchel’s side started their campaign with a 3-0 win over Real Madrid in Paris, before beating Galatasaray 1-0 in Turkey at the start of October to make it six points from two matches.
The capital giants then recorded a stunning 5-0 win away to Brugge last time out, with Kylian Mbappe scoring a treble against the Belgian side. As a result, a win on Wednesday night would be enough for the club to book their spot in the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two games to spare.
PSG will enter the match off the back of a 2-1 defeat to lowly Dijon in Ligue 1, although they are still seven points clear at the top of their domestic table and should have more than enough to land another league title.
The Champions League is the competition that the French side really wants to win, but they have been eliminated in the last-16 stage of the tournament in each of the last three years, with Manchester United incredibly knocking them out last season courtesy of a comeback victory in Paris.
It was always going to be difficult for Brugge to finish first or second in Group A considering that they were drawn alongside two powerhouses in the shape of Real Madrid and PSG. Galatasaray complete what is a strong section, but finishing third – and securing a spot in the Europa League – would be considered a success.
Third is where Brugge sit at this moment in time having picked up two points from their three matches. Indeed, they recorded back-to-back draws against Galatasaray and Real Madrid before suffering that five-goal home defeat to the French champions towards the end of last month.
Philippe Clement’s side will enter this match off the back of a 3-0 win over Kortrijk in the league at the weekend, though, which has left them six points clear at the top of the Belgian league with a game in hand over second-placed Standard Liege.
Blauw-Zwart have only won three of their last 21 fixtures in the Champions League proper, however, while they have never progressed to the knockout rounds of this particular competition.
Brugge remain the only Belgian side to have reached a European Cup final, though, which occurred back in 1978 when they finished as runners-up to Liverpool. It is going to take some effort for the club to even make the knockout round this year, but a positive result tonight would put them in with a chance.
PSG have a number of injury concerns at the moment, with key midfielders Ander Herrera and Marco Verratti again expected to miss out with ankle and calf issues respectively.
Defenders Thomas Meunier and Thilo Kehrer are also doubts, while Neymar is still out with the hamstring problem that he picked up during the last international break.
Julian Draxler appeared as a second-half substitute against Dijon, though, and is an option, while Edinson Cavani is battling Mauro Icardi for the role at centre-forward.
It does appear that Tuchel will again be forced to send an under-strength XI onto the field with the likes of Colin Dagba and Leandro Paredes keeping their positions.
As for Brugge, central defender Clinton Mata is a doubt with a hamstring problem, but Matej Mitrovic recovered from injury to feature at the weekend and could feature at the back. – SportsMole