PSG vs. Clermont possible lineup: How will Mauricio Pochettino handle missing Messi, Neymar, and Di Maria


Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Lionel Messi, Neymar, Angel Di Maria, and Leandro Paredes are all unlikely to be involved at all against Clermont Foot 63 in Ligue 1 on Saturday after international duty in South America.

All four were in action in the early hours of Friday morning (at least as far as the clock in France is concerned) and Messi even scored a hat-trick as the Albiceleste made a triumphant return to their home country after this summer’s Copa America success with a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia.

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Keylor Navas, Idrissa Gueye and Abdou Diallo have also racked up the air miles over the past fortnight with their respective national teams while Kylian Mbappe, Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe all picked up knocks.

Although the France international pair are not ruled out, there is no guarantee that both will be fit enough to start while Sergio Ramos and Juan Bernat remain out injured and it is too early to go with deadline day signing Nuno Mendes from the off.

“He will not start as he has only just arrived,” said Pochettino on the new Portuguese arrival in his Friday press conference. “However, he is a player with great potential and the club have been following him for a very long time. It was a brilliant piece of business by (sporting director) Leonardo and the President (Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi).”

Better news for Pochettino is that Mauro Icardi is fit after his shoulder problem which wrecked hopes of a return to the Argentina national team while Marquinhos and Achraf Hakimi’s international breaks were cut short for very different reasons.

The Brazilian soccer federation were unsure where Marquinhos’ suspension stood after the clash with Argentina was abandoned in farcical fashion while Hakimi was part of a Morocco squad which witnessed political unrest in Guinea which resulted in the qualifier being cancelled.

Fortunately for the Argentine tactician, he has the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum who have returned from the European internationals unscathed while Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer and Ander Herrera have all been at home and available for training.

While any potential XI aligned is likely to feature some youth, such as Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe who has already seen action this season, there will be enough proven quality to make PSG competitive against a side they have rarely faced in their entire existence.

In fact, the only time these two teams have met was a wild 4-4 draw in the Coupe de France back in 1997 which saw PSG lead 4-1 against their hosts from the fourth tier only to go down 4-3 on penalties despite the involvement of the legendary Rai and others.

Trying to predict a Parisien XI is difficult after any international break, especially one as contentious as this last one, but Pochettino will likely rely heavily on his European-based players and hope that some of the travelers from further afield might be able to make cameo appearances.

Donnarumma making his debut behind a defense of Marquinhos, Kimpembe and Kehrer would be more than solid enough in Ligue 1 with Hakimi, Herrera, Wijnaldum and Danilo Pereira potentially making up the midfield with Icardi leading an attack with Draxler, Mbappe and maybe even Rafinha.

Pochettino certainly has his work cut out and it will be interesting to see who makes the cut when PSG officialize the squad early on Saturday, but Mbappe declaring his excitement at returning to Ligue 1 action via social media suggests that he is ready to boost his boss by being available to start.

There is also some unexpected availability news for the hosts on Clermont’s side as star striker Mohamed Bayo will not be involved in Paris after being on the other side of the Coup d’Etat which saw the clash with Hakimi’s Morocco postponed.





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