Football Features

PSG’s worrying start to Ligue 1: Portugal hangover or genuine cause for concern?

By Ben Green

PSG's start to Ligue 1 2020/21 season: A cause for concern?

Published: 15:30, 15 September 2020

Paris Saint-Germain continued their worrying start to the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season at the weekend with a second successive 1-0 defeat, following up an opening-day setback against Lens with a Le Classique loss to rivals Marseille. 

Having failed to find the back of the net against Lens and Marseille, this is now only the second time in PSG’s history that the club have lost their first two games of a Ligue 1 season without scoring — the first coming all the way back in 1978/79. 

To add insult to injury, Thomas Tuchel saw three of his players sent off in the dying ember of the match at the Parc des Princes, with Layvin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes and Neymar all shown red after a full-scale brawl erupted in the middle of the pitch.

Referee Jerome Brisard also brandished rouge in the direction of Marseille duo Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto for their part in the scrap.

For Tuchel, the defeat has raised huge concerns about the mentality of his squad and their capabilities in the absence of key players. Kylian Mbappe, Marquinhos and Mauro Icardi all sat out the defeat in the capital, while Neymar and Angel Di Maria were omitted from the opening-day squad that failed to produce the goods against Lens.

The defeat now means PSG are seven points off the top of the table, albeit with a game in hand, while Marseille — their closest challengers last season — have picked up maximum reward thus far. Champions League semi-finalists Lyon are also off to a strong start, with a win and a draw on the table.

William Hill’s* 2020/21 Ligue 1 title odds:

  • PSG – 1/12
  • Lyon – 14/1
  • Marseille – 20/1
  • Lille – 50/1
  • Monaco – 50/1

*You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (11:45, 15/09/2020). BeGambleAware.

With Kurzawa, Paredes and Neymar all set to sit out of the next few matches through suspension, this will be a real test of Tuchel’s mettle and tactical resolve. It was only three weeks ago the German guided PSG to a Champions League final, but already cracks have started to emerge in his side post-Portugal.

The Parisians also fired a blank in the Champions League final, making it three games on the spin without a goal for the French club, marking a worrying trend for a side that boasts so much world-class attacking quality, though the absence of Mbappe has been truly striking.

Indeed PSG looked off the boil without Mbappe even before this season began. Last month it took the Frenchman’s introduction against Atalanta to turn the tide in the Champions League quarter-finals, while he was absent for the only Ligue 1 game they failed to find the back of the net in during the 2019/20 campaign: a 2-0 loss to Reims.

It is clear that Tuchel will have to find a way of putting together a side capable of playing attacking, penetrative football without their young superstar, particularly given the strength of reports that he has informed the club that he intends to leave at the end of this season — these are truly testing times for the European heavyweights.