Paris Saint-Germain will face sixth-division club Pays de Cassel on Monday, Jan. 23, as part of the French Cup Round of 32. The Parisian club just returned from their Middle East tour on Friday after defeating a Saudi All-Star XI 5-4 last Thursday in Cristiano Ronaldo's debut on Arab soil.
After Christophe Galtier's press conference on Saturday afternoon and the news coming out on Sunday afternoon, we know that none of Nordi Mukiele, Presnel Kimpembe, and Marco Verratti (announced Saturday), nor Gigio Donnarumma or Lionel Messi (announced Sunday) will feature on Monday's game.
Keylor Navas is PSG's goalie for cup games and that will remain the same today. If you like Navas and only watch Paris Saint-Germain matchups, though, pay attention and don't miss Monday's game as it might be Navas' last one featuring at the club from the French capital.
No surprises in the defense considering who is available for coach Galtier. Nuno Mendes' return to the lineup is expected whether that is on a starting gig or coming off the pine. Achraf Hakimi is also back available and the center of the line is barebones so there is no other option than using veterans Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos then and there.
Neymar should rest today instead of starting this rather unbalanced game for PSG
The question marks start to pop up in the middle of the park. There are plenty of options available for Galtier, starting with a returning (and struggling mightily) Renato Sanches. According to the latest information revealed by L'Equipe, both Luis Campos and Galtier want him to succeed in Paris and trust his skill set so he will keep getting as many chances as anyone else on the team.
Sanches will be paired by Danilo on a holding/defensive role (whatever that means against a sixth-division team...) along with Fabian Ruiz getting to more advanced positions as he's often done in past games.
There is the chance of using Vitinha or Warren Zaire-Emery but those look like long shots from the start of the game as the former has done enough to prove he's a must-start in important games and the latter is still a bit green and only a 15-minute type of player in this PSG.
There have been a lot of loud whispers about Neymar and Mbappe starting this game "to build chemistry." It could happen, but we see Carlos Soler taking the starting call on Monday with Neymar still nursing his banged-up ankle.
If Neymar starts the game, forget about him and Kylian Mbappe (a clear starter today as the face of Paris putting on his record-chasing cape even against minnows Pays de Cassel) playing more than 50 or 60 minutes. No need for it with Bayern around the corner.
An in-form Hugo Ekitike (at least until the last Ligue 1 game when he disappeared once again) should be the starting striker because there are no alternatives at the position with Sarabia off to England and no reinforcements in tow with one week before the transfer window closes.
PSG should deal with Pays de Cassel quickly, move on to the Round of 16 of the French Cup (games to be played on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8), and host Stade Reims next Sunday with at an early 14:45 CET kick-off.