All just a little bit of history repeating?
By D. Crossan
Last season Strasbourg inflicted Paris Saint-Germain's first defeat of the Ligue 1 Conforama campaign. Can Thierry Laurey's fired-up side do the same at Stade de la Meinau on Wednesday evening?
Strasbourg thrashed Rennes 4-1 at Roazhon Park on Sunday to climb to eighth in the table, while later that day runaway leaders PSG dropped points for the first time this season as they were held 2-2 by Bordeaux despite leading twice at Matmut Atlantique. In 2017-2018 PSG also went to Strasbourg in Week 16 and they fell 2-1 as Nuno Da Costa and Stéphane Bahoken scored either side of a Kylian Mbappé goal as the capital club fell in a game they had dominated in terms of chances.
Neymar went off with a groin injury after netting the opening goal at Bordeaux and PSG are desperate to have the world's most expensive player fully fit for their crunch Champions League game at Red Star Belgrade on December 11. PSG boss Thomas Tuchel said: "He said it was no problem to play on Sunday but the pitch was heavy. The decision was taken with everybody that he would play, with Neymar, and the medical staff. I think he has the same injury that he sustained with his national side. I think he'll be rested against Strasbourg and I hope he'll be fit for Montpellier."
Mbappé signalled he need to be substituted immediately after scoring PSG's second goal in the south west but it turned out to be a false alarm for the French international, the top scorer in the five major European leagues this season with 12 goals. Tuchel elected to rest Edinson Cavani to the bench at Bordeaux, saying of the club record scorer: "He needed the rest in order for him to be able to play against Strasbourg. He played a lot before the international break, then twice against Uruguay, and then he played against both Toulouse and Liverpool."
Laurey impressed with Tuchel
Strasbourg boss Thierry Laurey has been impressed with the way the German boss has dealt with his stars. Laurey told Le Parisien after PSG's win over Liverpool last midweek: "He came up with a very good tactical plan. The three attackers defended infield and it meant the Liverpool full-backs needed to come out and that left space. Paris constantly posed Liverpool problems. In the big clubs, one of the keys is the relationship between the coach and the stars. You need to know how to cajole them and be direct to them so they know it's not an open bar when it comes to what they do. What he has achieved with Neymar is very impressive."
Strasbourg have lost only one of their last eight league games, falling 1-0 in their last home outing to promoted Nîmes and the Meinau atmosphere promises to be fantastic for the visit of the champions. Laurey and his players will pay close attention to the PSG teamsheet to see how far Tuchel goes with his rotation. After Bordeaux, a match Tuchel said Adrien Rabiot missed for family reasons, the coach said: "There will be changes for Strasbourg, that's necessary. It will mean I'll be able to ask the entire team to play with intensity and you need to be in good shape both physically and mentally in order to be able to achieve that."
Strasbourg: Sels - Lala, Caci, Koné, Martinez, Liénard - Thomasson, Martin (c), Sissoko, Zohi - Mothiba
PSG: Areola - Kehrer, Thiago Silva (c), Kimpembe - Meunier, Verratti, Rabiot, Diaby - Mbappé, Cavani, Draxler