“Penaltygate’ continues to be an unwelcome distraction as Paris Saint-Germain face their first major European test against the mighty Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.
PSG superstar Neymar was bombarded with criticism after throwing a tantrum on the pitch. The Brazilian insisted on taking a spot-kick over designate penalty-taker Edinson Cavani during a Ligue 1 game.
The aftermath of that incident is still being felt. Les Parisiens have gone in to damage-control mode and should Unai Emery’s men may be unable to beat Bayern, the ghosts of that unsavoury incident will bog the team down for the rest of the season.
Bayern have not begun their campaign in top gear and while they beat Anderlecht in their Champions League opener, the hosts seem to have a slight advantage over their pedigreed rivals.
Neymar was missing in action on the weekend as PSG dropped points for the first time this season.
The Brazilian, however, was rested more as a precaution and should slot back into the starting XI.
Meanwhile, reports of a divided dressing room are circulating and it remains to be seen if the team is able to present a united front.
For despite housing the talents of Kylian Mbappe, Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, among others, PSG cannot take a win for granted and Bayern will pounce upon any weakness they see.
David Alaba is racing against time to start at the Parc des Princes and should the Austrian be unable to feature, Mbappe will be given license to wreak havoc on Bayern’s left flank.
Talking Corner: It’s a very important match, and it’s true that it’s a huge match for our fans. We know that thee Parc will be on fire; it’s a huge asset for us- PSG midfielder Marco Verratti (www.en.psg.fr)
Injury concerns: Angel di Maria (Hamstring)
Suspension Alert: None
Robert Lewandowski is banging in the goals but is he the only player performing at a high level at Bayern?
Of course not, but injuries to Manuel Neuer and James Rodriguez’s patchy form hasn’t helped Die Bayern.
The Colombian, on loan from Real Madrid, arrived at the Allianz Arena in the summer to raise hopes of fans but so far, his performances have not quite set the pitch alight and more is expected from the vaunted midfielder.
Without their star goalkeeper, who is nursing a fractured foot, the visitors will be hard-pressed to keep PSG’s expensively-assembled attacking unit at bay.
Can the likes of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng or Javi Martinez keep Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar quiet?
And while it may not seem like that, PSG are so much more than their high-profile forwards, for Verratti is running the strings in midfield along with rising star Adrien Rabiot and grizzled veteran Thiago Motta.
The likes of Arturo Vidal and Thiago will have to be on their toes if they are to win the midfield battle and throttle the supply to the hosts’ sensational forward line.
Talking Corner: We’re going to Paris in order to win. They (PSG) will be very motivated. It’s going to be a big game-Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso (www.fcbayern.com)
Injury concerns: Manuel Neuer (fracture), Bernat (ankle injury) and Felix Gotze (strain)
Suspension Alert: None