PSG and Monaco now share the podium with OGC Nice, the principality side slipping to third having led the way for seven of the 12 rounds of games so far. Paris are now top, but only three points better off than next Friday’s visitors to the Parc des Princes.
Recent history has been kinder to Monaco in terms of their head-to-head record, with two wins – 3-0 and 3-1 – sandwiching a 1-1 draw across their last three meetings, but PSG might feel confident of a first win over their rivals since December 2021. Ligue1.com takes a closer look…
Watch: Highlights of PSG’s last meeting with Monaco – a 3-1 win for the latter
Perhaps the only place to start. You can’t lose if you don’t concede any goals; but you can’t win of you don’t score any. And PSG have the best goalscorer in the business in Kylian Mbappé. The Monaco academy graduate has a league-leading 13 goals this season, and looks well on course for his sixth consecutive top scorer’s award.
Monaco’s primary goal-getter, Wissam Ben Yedder, is some eight goals behind his France international teammate. He does boasts nine goals in 19 career meetings with PSG, but Mbappé has 10 in 12 against his former employers. When it comes to primary goal-threat, there is only one winner.
But what about their supporting cast?
Mbappé tends to have Ousmane Dembélé and Gonçalo Ramos for company in the final third for Paris. Earlier in the season he was on the left on a front three with Dembélé on the opposite side of focal point Ramos, but latterly Luis Enrique has paired Mbappé and Ramos up top with Dembélé deeper.
Ben Yedder has also been one half of a striker partnership with Folarin Balogun on occasion, but normally finds himself leading the line with a pair of No.10s – more often than not Aleksandr Golovin and Takumi Minamino.
While Ramos has two goals and Dembélé four assists, Golovin has matched Ben Yedder’s five in the former column with two in the latter, while Minamino has three of each. When it comes to spreading the load in attack, Monaco take it.
Provision from deep
But those of a rouges et bleus as opposed to a rouge et blanc persuasion might argue that Mbappé’s support comes from deeper than those who start alongside him in attack. And they would have plenty of ammo in pointing out Achraf Hakimi.
The Spain-born Morocco right-back has taken three goals this season whilst laying on four more, making him PSG’s next-most potent player. Monaco’s left-back Caio Henrique has four goals, his Brazilian compatriot on the opposite flank Vanderson one goal and one provision.
In short, Hakimi has one more goal-involvement on his own than Monaco’s full-backs put together. He doesn’t need the more defensively-minded Lucas Hernandez to pad out this victory.
A case for the defence
But a defender’s first job is to defend, Ligue1.com hears you cry. Well, PSG come out on top in that regard too.
Gigio Donnarumma has kept six clean sheets to Philipp Köhn‘s four, and the Paris defence as a whole have conceded nine goals to Monaco’s 14. The Italy No.1 has the second-best save and clean sheet percentages league-wide after Nice’s Marcin Bulka, with Köhn outside the top 10 on both counts.
Wilfried Singo and Denis Zakaria have some of the highest interception numbers in the division, but Manuel Ugarte scoring high for tackles and tackles won might simply suggest PSG are more ruthless in winning back possession, which they tend to dominate.
PSG have perhaps the best player in the world in attack – one who fired Monaco to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title as an 18-year-old in 2017 – but if Monaco can keep Hakimi on the back foot, they have more variance in attack.
They also have recent history on their side, but PSG with Mbappé at one end of Donnarumma at the other are ultimately better and scoring goals and keeping them out.
The Round 13 curtain-raiser will also be a hair-raiser, and French football fans and indeed fans of football would be made to miss it regardless of the outcome.
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