The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Dortmund-PSG: Kolo Muani, Barcola, Lee... Who will replace the indispensable Dembélé

2023-12-11T15:38:54.846Z

Highlights: Dortmund-PSG: Kolo Muani, Barcola, Lee... Who will replace the indispensable Dembélé. The absence of the 26-year-old French winger will represent a major problem for Luis Enrique, who has several options to replace him. Luis Enrique needs the man he sees as "the most unbalanced player in the world" to compensate for the departures of Leo Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti during the off-season. The surprising return of Warren Zaire-Emery widens the field of possibilities.


DECRYPTION – The absence of the 26-year-old French winger will represent a major problem for Luis Enrique, who has several options to replace him.


Small gesture, big consequences. Shortly before the hour mark, Ousmane Dembélé sent the ball into the stands during the draw against Newcastle (1-1), at the Parc des Princes. It was a gesture of temper that was punished with a "ridiculous yellow card", as Luis Enrique called it. All the more ridiculous as it will deprive "Dembouz" of Wednesday's clash (21 p.m.) at Dortmund, his former club (2016-17). The reunion with Signal Iduna Park will be for later. And it is without him that the Parisians will play "their lives" in the Champions League, according to Randal Kolo Muani, who would qualify in the event of success but would be dependent on the result of Newcastle-Milan in the event of a draw or defeat.

To discover

  • Champions League fixtures and results
  • Champions League standings

Problem? Ousmane Dembélé, a "unique player" as Luis Enrique explains, has been essential in PSG's attacking animation since the start of the season. With only one goal and five assists in 19 games since the start of the season, we could doubt it. The match against Nantes (2-1) on Saturday, however, confirmed what we already knew: there is a PSG with and one without Dembélé. Substituted at kick-off in order to prepare Dortmund, Paris lacked ideas, depth and impact until they came on on the hour mark. Admittedly, the 42-year-old French international (5 caps, 26 goals) has neither scored nor made an assist, but his impact has been significant. "In love" with his game, Luis Enrique needs the man he sees as "the most unbalanced player in the world" to compensate for the departures of Leo Messi, Neymar and Marco Verratti during the off-season.

Last but not least, the Hakimi/Dembélé tandem on the right represents one of the great strengths of PSG 2023-24, while the game has naturally leaned to the left – on Kylian Mbappé's side – in recent years. This time, the bulk of the attacks are coming from the right. Above all, this is where a large number of chances and situations, imbalances caused in the opponents come from. In short, a real blow for Paris-SG.

Read alsoPSG: and now, let's go to Dortmund

Multiple Options, Multiple Profiles

It remains to be seen how to replace Ousmane Dembélé at Dortmund. Puzzle. Multiple options, multiple profiles. The surprising return of Warren Zaire-Emery widens the field of possibilities. Not that the 17-year-old is destined to occupy the right wing, but his potential presence in the 11 can allow Luis Enrique to shift a midfielder. Boys like Marco Asensio and Carlos Soler are not in the race, we imagine them to be in the heart of the game. However, Soler has been used in all sorts of ways since the start of the season, including as a left-back! "Lucho" is not a surprise in terms of team composition or game plan... One thing is certain: Paris Saint-Germain will try to control the game, have possession and play in BVB's half.

The two most natural candidates to make up for Dembélé's absence, however, are Randal Kolo Muani and Bradley Barcola. If he wants to continue with an overflow, dribbling, fast and impactful winger, who would bring both width and depth, Luis Enrique would opt for the latter. It would still be a bit of a surprise knowing that the player has never started a Champions League match before. He has appeared three times in C1 since the start of the season, 33 minutes against Newcastle (4-1), once in Milan (2-1) and 28 against Newcastle (1-1). In this last appearance, he brought as much in terms of dynamics as... lacked realism. He started but was substituted after 12 minutes in Le Havre (0-2), but made up for it against Nantes (2-1) on Saturday, with his first Parisian goal at the end of the day. "This is the present and the future of the club. He's having a great game," enthused Luis Enrique, praising his one-on-one qualities. Except that it was on the left that the former Lyon man started on Saturday.

Read alsoPSG-Nantes ratings: Mbappé discreet, Barcola's response, Kolo Muani ruthless

Bradley Barcola had a very good game as well, he can start. Even if I scored, it doesn't mean anything...

Randal Kolo Muani

And it was Kolo Muani who took his place in the 79th minute, on the left. Which Kolo Muani scored as well. "It will be up to the coach to decide. Barcola had a very good game as well, he can start. Even if I scored, it doesn't mean anything... There's a lot of quality on the bench, it's up to the coach to choose," said the former Nantes player, who has started every C1 match since the start of the season, but in a centre-forward position. The 13-year-old French international (2 caps, 25 goals) alternates between good and bad at PSG, whether in terms of statistics (15 matches, 5 goals, 2 assists) or content. He admits to having experienced "a lot of lows" since he moved to Paris after an XXL transfer (€90 million).

However, his rival at centre-forward, Gonçalo Ramos (17 matches, 3 goals, 1 assist), is not much more convincing despite his efforts and an interesting profile. "They're two typical strikers. Kolo Muani may have an easier time playing on the flank and Ramos is more of a box 9 but they are two very strong options," Luis Enrique explained recently.

Read alsoChampions League: PSG first, second or third in their group, we explain everything

What about Mbappé?

Logic would therefore dictate to find an attacking trio composed of Mbappé on the left, Ramos in the middle and Kolo Muani on the right against Borussia, or even Mbappé-Kolo Muani-Barcola or Mbappé-Ramos-Barcola. Not so fast. On the one hand, Ramos' playing time has been drastically reduced in recent weeks. And for good reason, Luis Enrique now regularly uses Mbappé in the middle. "He's free on the attacking front, total freedom," corrected the Spanish coach. However, against the Canaries, Barcola played on the left and... Kang-in Lee, right. Mbappé did indeed have the freedom to wander between the two. Will Luis Enrique opt for this option at Dortmund? If necessary, he could line up Barcola and Kolo Muani on the flanks, or one of the two on the left and the South Korean on the right. Still, the latter showed its limits in terms of risk-taking on Saturday. Comfortable keeping the ball, he obviously doesn't have the same abilities as Dembélé to unbalance opposing defences, that's more than clear.

His connection with Hakimi didn't seem obvious either, while the Moroccan gets on much better with Kolo Muani for example, the latter also offering more possibilities to take the deep. Against Dortmund's very heavy central defence, it can be useful... It should be noted that Mbappé's refocusing may also have an interest in this register, even if everyone has understood that it is not his preferred position. Nor is it Kolo Muani's, who above all needs spaces to express himself, as was the case in Frankfurt in 2022-23 (50 matches, 26 goals, 17 assists). "It's always nice to score, but it's up to me to keep working, to listen to the coach's instructions. Whether I'm playing on the right, left or up front, as long as I'm on the pitch, it's up to me to give the best of myself," commented the world silver medallist on Saturday.

Donnarumma under pressure

For the rest, given the absentees (Mendes, Kimpembe, Ruiz), we can imagine that Kylian Mbappé, Manuel Ugarte, Warren Zaire-Emery, Hakimi, Milan Skriniar, Marquinhos and Lucas Hernandez will complete the starting 11. Vitinha should also be on the bench given his current level of performance, but Luis Enrique had relegated him to the bench in favour of Kang-in Lee against Newcastle. In any case, Gigio Donnarumma should find his place in goal. The latter has three balls in his last three outings. He served the first of his two-match suspension in Ligue 1 against Nantes. His status as number 1 is not (yet?) questioned by his coach, especially since Keylor Navas has a back injury, but the Italian is under pressure, more than ever. Dembélé's absence will be problematic. It's up to Donnarumma to make sure his presence isn't.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2023-12-11

You may like

Trends 24h

Latest

© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.