Idrissa Gueye has earned rave reviews for his standout performance in Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League win over Real Madrid in midweek and the midfielder looks to be exactly what they have been sadly lacking in recent seasons.
The Senegal international joined PSG in the summer from Everton for a reported 32 million euros ($35.3 million) in a deal that may not have set pulses racing in Paris.
However, the 29-year-old’s combative, all-action style gives his team a balance in midfield which they have lacked since the departures of Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta in the last two years.
Gueye harassed and pressed the Real midfield all evening at the Parc des Princes, constantly won balls back and set up Angel Di Maria’s second goal in a convincing 3-0 victory.
“We fought to bring him to the club. He is a machine. He never stops running, he recovered so many balls for us and against a team like Real that is super important,” said his coach, Thomas Tuchel.
PSG veered towards a model based around individual stars when they signed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for the two biggest transfer fees in history in 2017, but those two were not even on the field in midweek.
The Brazilian was suspended and will be back for Sunday’s trip to Lyon, which has been PSG’s toughest domestic fixture in recent seasons.
They have lost in Lyon in both of the last two seasons but will be hopeful of coming out on top, even if it remains to be seen if either Mbappe of Edinson Cavani will be fit.
While PSG have not entirely convinced in the league, they ended last weekend two points clear at the top of the table.
Lyon, meanwhile, won their opening two games of the season under new coach Sylvinho but have picked up just two points in three games since.
They also drew their opening Champions League game, with Memphis Depay scoring a penalty in a 1-1 home draw against Zenit.
One to watch: Leonardo Jardim
Could Monaco’s Portuguese coach be close to the sack at the principality club for the second time in 12 months?
It has been another terrible start to the season at the Stade Louis II and Jardim is under increasing pressure after last week’s 4-3 home defeat against Marseille left them with just two points and in the relegation zone.
Fans are unhappy, but Jardim insists he still needs time to gel together a new team after a massive summer turnover of players.
“The supporters have their reasons for being unhappy, but it is also a delicate period for us,” he said ahead of Saturday’s match at Reims.
“We have quality, experienced players but we are not yet a team.”
The architect of Monaco’s title success in 2017, Jardim was dismissed in October last year. He was brought back just three months later after Thierry Henry’s ill-fated spell at the helm and steered the team to safety.
Nevertheless, they have won just one of their last 14 league games.
2 – PSG have lost in Lyon in each of the last two seasons and have only won there twice in their last eight league visits. This has been the toughest domestic fixture for PSG since the Qatari takeover of 2011.
4 – The number of goals scored by Dario Benedetto in his last three games. Have Marseille finally found in the Argentine the top-class centre-forward they have sought in recent years?
12 – Lille have failed to win in 12 matches in Europe after a 3-0 loss at Ajax in the Champions League. They will hope to bounce back when they visit Rennes on Sunday.
Strasbourg v Nantes (1845)
Marseille v Montpellier (1530), Bordeaux v Brest, Metz v Amiens, Nice v Dijon, Nimes v Toulouse, Reims v Monaco (all 1800)
Rennes v Lille (1300), Angers v Saint-Etienne (1500), Lyon v Paris Saint-Germain (1900)