Life at Paris Saint-Germain started in a fraught 1-1 draw for Mauricio Pochettino. Les Parisiens found themselves a goal down to AS Saint-Étienne after Romain Hamouma struck on the 19th minute, but managed to swiftly reply with a Moise Kean effort to bring the score to one apiece just three minutes later.
Both sides generated potential goal-scoring opportunities throughout the second half, but it was destined to end a draw. Whilst not the ideal start for the former Tottenham Hotspur manager, there are certainly a few points of interest for PSG fans.
Honours Even for Pochettino, But Strong Signs for the Future
Tactical Flexibility- Smart Tweak Made at Half-Time
In the first half, Pochettino had PSG set up in a 3-1-5-1 when in possession. The idea seemed to be to pack the midfield with bodies, the aim being to play a ball to thread one of the wide players in behind. On paper, it makes a lot of sense as it aimed to maximise the number of times that Kylian Mbappé would be able to break through the defensive lines.
The problem came in the deployment of Marco Verratti in the number ten role. As a player who is usually based deeper in the midfield, several attacks were stifled by hesitant pass selection.
In what should reassure PSG fans, Pochettino noticed and sought to remedy this. Pochettino moved to having two players upfront with a flatter and deeper midfield. The result was that PSG dominated the possession, and did not concede again.
Mauricio Pochettino showed a willingness to experiment, and it will be exciting to see what his long-term tactical plan is.
Neymar Still to Return – Pochettino May Use Him as the Creative Fulcrum
Still missing with an ankle injury, Neymar may just be exactly what Pochettino needs.
As aforementioned, the tactical setup appears catered for a player to occupy the hole behind the forwards and create. In that respect, Neymar is a far better fit for the role than Marco Verratti. Verratti had clearly been instructed to drift through the midfield, but could not make the most out of this role.
Neymar on the other hand would relish the chance to dominate the ball. In this system, he would be given licence to link the forward line and to make attacking runs himself. This would provide a vital injection of aggression and creativity into the midfield.
Mauricio Pochettino may have to be patient, but Neymar’s return could get the ball rolling on an incredibly ambitious formation.
More to Come From Mbappé – Pochettino Can Get the Best Out of Him
After an electric run of eight goals in five matches, returns have slowed somewhat for Kylian Mbappé in recent games. With just one goal in his last three fixtures, it’s fair to say that Mbappé can certainly produce a bit more. Whilst PSG drew, they can still find some optimism in the fact that they will have better days in the future.
In his time at Tottenham, Mauricio Pochettino did a fantastic job of turning players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli into the best versions of themselves. There is no reason why this cannot be replicated with the calibre of player at his disposal at Paris Saint-Germain.
It may sound simple, but PSG fans can be quite excited by the prospect that Pochettino connects with and fosters their already impressive set of stars.