Paris Saint-Germain had a returning Neymar Jr. to thank for their valuable away goal against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. With the Brazilian back, perhaps PSG's preferred formation will follow against Girondins de Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes…
PSG have been playing a variation of a 4-4-2 in recent months - Thomas Tuchel's ideal of Neymar, Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria from left to right across the final third when possible - in order to get the best out of each of the club's Quatre Fantastiques.
Icardi was rested for the Dortmund game on Tuesday, though, as the coach sought to pack PSG's midfield against his former club. The French champions may have suffered their first defeat in 23 games in all competitions, but Neymar returned from injury to seal a valuable away goal in a 2-1 reverse.
Still in control
Allied to last Saturday's 4-4 draw at Amiens SC, PSG have failed to win consecutive games in all competitions for the first time since May 2019, when they had a stutter on their way to their eighth Ligue 1 Conforama title, and Tuchel has dismissed any suggestions of a dip in form.
Watch: Highlights of PSG's 4-4 draw with Amiens
"We lacked a bit of rhythm, and we need to find that in order to be at our best for the return leg at the Parc des Princes," he conceded. "We're losing 2-1, and can do a lot better. There's a second half to play at the Parc and we have everything needed to win.
"I knew in advance it'd be a difficult game for Mbappé," the coach also said of his young striker, who led the line alone and assisted Neymar's goal. "Neymar and Kylian have a good relationship, but Neymar missed a bit of rhythm. That's why we missed Kylian's usual quality. It's a connection between the two."
Further back, Abdou Diallo and Colin Dagba remain sidelined with thigh and knee complaints respectively, but PSG have an otherwise clean bill of health against a side whom they have won seven of their last 10 meetings, drawing the other three.
History on PSG's side
Les Girondins last beat PSG back in March 2015 when Lamine Sané, Wahbi Khazri and Diego Rolan goals were enough to drown out Zlatan Ibrahomivic's brace in a 3-2 win Bordeaux's old Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Paulo Sousa - who won the Champions League with Dortmund as a player in 1997 - and his side are heavy underdogs in the capital on Sunday. Bordeaux begin the day in 10th, nine places and 27 points worse off than their hosts, but they have steadied their ship since the turn of the year.
Watch: Highlights of Bordeaux's 2-2 draw with Dijon
The wine country club were third as recently as Round 16 but suffered four consecutive league losses either side of the New Year. They dominated Dijon FCO last Saturday, though, Mounir Chouiar's moment of magic denying them all three points in a 2-2 draw, and their recent run of five games without defeat has reduced the aforementioned to a wobble, rather than terminal decline.
"It was a difficult match against a team that needs points to stay in Ligue 1," said Sousa. "Dijon had three dangerous counter-attacks and, with a little luck, scored from one of them. The team worked well and had the right attitude to achieve victory."
Right-back Enock Kwateng is out with a knee injury but Bordeaux will be at full-strength otherwise. Paris-born Jimmy Briand, who scored his team-high seventh goal of the season against Dijon, has made the striker spot his own, while Toma Basic has impressed in the central midfield position vacated by AS Monaco-bound Aurélien Tchouaméni.
Whether that will be enough for Bordeaux to end their drought against a Parisian Fantastic Four remains to be seen.
PSG: Navas; Meunier, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Di Maria, Gueye, Verratti, Neymar; Mbappé, Icardi
Bordeaux: Costil; Sabaly, Koscielny, Pablo, Benito; Otavio, Basic; Oudin, De Préville, Hwang; Briand