PARIS, FRANCE - Tuesday, February 16, 2016: Paris Saint-Germain supporters unfurl a banner of the Eiffel Tower before the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match against Chelsea at Parc des Princes. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Paris Saint-Germain to head to Liverpool with multiple key starters missing

Liverpool return to Premier League action this weekend, but the Champions League starts straight after with a key match against Paris Saint-Germain.

The Reds are looking to go deep into the competition once again this year, after reaching last year’s final under Jurgen Klopp.

But this time around it’ll mean a very impressive start, with PSG and Napoli both presenting formidable group-stage opposition, while Red Star Belgrade will also be a challenge, especially away.

Liverpool can at least point to some good early-season form as a key reason for self-belief, while most of the squad is also fit at this point.

Adam Lallana has struggled with injury but is no longer a regular starter, and only Dejan Lovren is missing who might have been in the 11 from the start of the campaign.

For PSG, however, it’s looking rather different at this point, with several key starters ruled out.

Football - soccer: FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010, Italy (ITA) - Paraguay (PRY), IL PORTIERE DELL' ITALIA GIANLUIGI BUFFON

In goal, the legendary Gianluigi Buffon joined the Ligue 1 champions from Juventus this season, and has been sharing goalkeeping duties with Alphonse Areola.

It will be the Frenchman in goal at Anfield, however, with Buffon suspended in Europe due to being sent off as Juve crashed out against Real Madrid last term.

Another who is suspended for the opening match is playmaker Marco Verratti—though he has also been missing this season through injury, playing just once so far.

At full-back, PSG also have problems.

Right-back Dani Alves is definitely out and will likely miss all the group stage, as he recovers from an ACL injury suffered in May, causing him to miss the World Cup.

On the opposite side, Layvin Kurzawa would be the first-choice defender, but he has not played yet this term.

The French international hurt his back early on this campaign and, yesterday, PSG announced he had required and undergone surgery on a herniated disc. Le Parisien speculate this means he’ll be out for the remainder of the calendar year at least, thus missing both group games against the Reds.

Finally, veteran midfielder Lass Diarra has been absent recently with a knee injury, but no date has been put on his return and he has only missed one match.

28.07.2011, Coface Arena, Mainz, GER, UEFA Europa League, Mainz 05 vs CS Gaz Metan Medias, im Bild Thomas Tuchel (Trainer Mainz) // during the GER, UEFA Europa League, Mainz 05 vs CS Gaz Metan Medias on 2011/07/28, Coface Arena, Mainz, Germany. EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Roth ****** out of GER / CRO / BEL ******

With so many absences, new boss Thomas Tuchel has been shuffling his pack this season, both in terms of formation and personnel.

While the forward trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are guaranteed starters, they may not play as a ‘front three,’ with the Brazilian deployed centrally and behind Cavani more than once this term.

In a 4-2-3-1, Angel Di Maria would likely start from the left, with Marquinhos in a central midfield double pivot alongside Adrien Rabiot, recently linked with the Reds.

The alternative has been a back three system, which leaves Neymar playing just behind Mbappe and Cavani as a potent strike pairing.

Neymar Jr ( PSG ) - Kylian Mbappe ( PSG ) FOOTBALL : Paris Saint Germain vs Angers SCO - Ligue 1 - Paris - 25/08/2018 FedericoPestellini/Panoramic.

Thomas Meunier will play on the right of defence in either system, but Tuchel has a decision to make on the left.

New signing Juan Bernat has yet to feature, though would make an ideal wing-back, while Thilo Kehrer could play left-back in a four if PSG opt for a more resolute, disciplined system given they are away and it’s the first match.

A succession of youngsters have featured in the lineups early on, with Stanley N’Soki (left-back), Colin Dagba (left-back), Timothy Weah (forward), Christopher Nkunku (attacking midfield) and Antoine Bernede (central midfield) all playing at least twice each.

More from This Is Anfield

Fan Comments