Ligue 1 2019/20: PSG vs Angers – tactical analysis
Ligue 1 powerhouses PSG continued their dominance in the league with a comfortable 4-0 win at home against Angers. Les Parisiens showed their attacking intent from the get-go and the Angevin side were really struggling to weather the storm throughout the full 90 minutes.
Neymar and co. have been collecting tight 1-0 victories on their road to this game as well as a surprising 2-0 loss at home against Reims on 25 September. They’ve notched up 12 points out of possible 15 in their last five games. Angers, meanwhile, have also been quite impressive this season as apparent with Le SCO sitting in third place in Ligue 1 with 16 points from eight matches. Angers managed to win three matches out of their last five, losing and drawing each of the other two.
Thomas Tuchel deployed his side in his favoured 4-3-3 formation. Several changes can be seen in the matchday squad for this game with Ander Herrera playing at right-back, replacing Thomas Meunier. Playmaker Leandro Paredes and flamboyant winger Neymar also saw their names on the teamsheet while Marquinhos and Angel Di Maria got some well-deserved rest following a UEFA Champions League match against Galatasaray few days before this game.
Stéphane Moulin also set his team up with a familiar 4-1-4-1 system with a few changes of personnel. Vincent Manceau, Antonin Bobichon, and Casimir Ninga all started the game against PSG, while Ibrahim Cissé, Thomas Mangani, and Sada Thioub were relegated to the bench having played in a 1-1 home draw against Amiens the week before.
There seemed to be no significant changes made in terms of shape and system throughout the game. PSG were extremely comfortable with the possession while Angers had to pick the right moments to attack and really hurt PSG on the break.
Dominant in every aspect of the game
PSG clearly looked to get the upper hand over Angers right from the start of the game. They kept most of the possession and would immediately press after losing the ball. They looked to always get the ball at their feet, trying to tire out their opposition by moving them around and making them chase the ball whilst also unsettling them and forcing them into mistake when they had the possession by defending with high block, creating an overload on the flank (where Angers usually tried to progress the ball and attack), and applying aggressive pressure.
Angers defended with a low block in this game and were quite cautious in their approach.
As you can see in the picture above, Angers tended to drop below the halfway line with 10 men behind the ball. They’d let the two PSG centre-backs to play the ball around while also blocking their access to the middle. PSG tended to play from the back with the goalkeeper distributing it short towards either of the two centre-backs. PSG seemed to be going forward with more urgency in the first half but seemed much more patient and moved the ball a lot laterally in the second half.
Striker Rachid Alioui tended to stay close and mark the passing lane towards Paredes whilst also trying to disturb the Argentinian playmaker when he’s in possession of the ball. Midfield partnership of Mathias Pereira Lage and Bobichon would usually hold their position in the midfield and only press when the ball was played towards Marco Verratti or Idrissa Gueye.
Paredes was supposed to be the first pass in the midfield before distributing the ball forward or towards more creative players. However, with the Argentinian often inaccessible, PSG would need to be more creative in the build-up. This forced PSG’s three-man midfield to actively move and rotate their positions in order to release themselves from their marker and find some space to exploit. In the picture above, Gueye dropped deeper to receive the ball while Paredes was preparing to move into the small pocket of space around the centre circle, giving Gueye more passing options as well as allowing his team to progress.
As you can also see, PSG were playing with their full-backs sitting high and wide even in their build-up phase, forcing the opposing winger to stay deeper. Both PSG wingers tended to sit in the half-space, dragging the opposing full-back to sit narrower which allowed some space for Herrera and Juan Bernat to exploit.
Again, in the picture above, you can see that both Ninga and Pierrick Capelle (in the yellow circles) were supposed to protect the width by dropping deeper and then staying wider while the full-backs were occupied by the PSG wingers who moved into the half-space (see Neymar in the red circle).
However, Capelle was out of his supposed position in this situation and was completely unaware of Bernat’s movements behind his back. Manceau, meanwhile, was very much focused on marking Neymar, thus also not paying attention to the Spaniard’s movement.
Verratti, who just received the ball, saw Bernat’s run and immediately lofted it onto the path of Bernat. The left-back was left free with an abundance of space out wide. He then brought the ball into the box before delivering a low cross across the goal but was intercepted comfortably by goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.
This happens numerous times in the game but most often in the first half. PSG tended to force situations like this to happen by moving the ball quickly with high-tempo passing and using only one-two touches when exchanging passes.
Les PSG tended to progress through the half-space although often can be seen trying to the more difficult route which was to break through the crowded middle. Tuchel’s side would increase their tempo and urgency as they got the ball closer to the box, tending to combine quickly in order to allow the opposition little time to think and react.
From the half-space, PSG could either move the ball wide towards the marauding full-backs, deliver diagonal passes into the box (usually done by Verratti), or cut inside and take a shot which was usually done by both Neymar and Pablo Sarabia.
Breaking forward quickly
Despite only having 27% of the possession compared to PSG’s 73%, there were times where Angers could have really exploited PSG’s high defence, hit them hard on the counter, and even scored a goal or two.
Butelle tended to distribute the ball short towards either of the two centre-backs. However, Angers seemed to often be too rushed to go forward. This was perhaps due to PSG’s aggressive pressure to Angers’ backline, forcing them to move the ball quicker whilst also blocking their short passing options.
Angers seemed to try to attack mostly through the flanks, usually combining in a fairly quick tempo when going forward. However, as mentioned before in this tactical analysis, PSG would try to create an overload on the flanks when the ball’s there. As you can see in the picture above, Bernat quickly closed down Capelle to allow him little space to turn, meanwhile, Verratti and Paredes also moved to the half-space compressing the space and giving even more pressure to the Angevin side.
In this situation, the ball was played back towards Manceau who tried to lob the ball forward onto the path of Pereira Lage, however, the ball was intercepted by Bernat who returned the ball towards the French right-back with his head. Manceau then played the ball backwards while PSG players push higher up to press them while they’re in an uncomfortable position.
Angers were able to enter PSG’s box mostly through the counter although they were a bit ineffective up front. Usually, this was due to the lack of numbers upfront and the indecisiveness.
As you can see in the picture above, PSG were actually quite vulnerable when in transition to defence. Both full-backs positioned themselves high and wide, far from their designated defensive position. In this situation, Pereira Lage successfully won the ball from Neymar and kickstarted a counter-attack for Angers.
Angers tended to break forward very quickly through the wings, most often through the left-wing where they could utilise Ninga’s explosive pace to deathly effect. After winning the ball, Pereira Lage laid the ball for Capelle and the left-footed winger cut into his stronger foot before trying to make the through pass. However, Gueye was very quick to react and muscled Capelle off the ball before he could execute the pass which could have put his team in extreme danger.
According to the stats, 25% of Angers’ attacks came from counter-attacks (15 attacks) while 75% of them came from positional play (44 attacks). However, only three out of 10 shots were created inside the box. Even worse, only two out of those total shots were on target, strangely those on-target shots were from outside the box – meanwhile, the three shots from inside the box were all off-target.
PSG were thoroughly dominant in the game and utterly rampant. Though having most of the possession doesn’t automatically translate to a win, Tuchel’s side managed to expose and exploit Angers’ weaknesses in this game. PSG were pounding at Angers’ door and it surely was a matter of time until goals were flowing in.
Angers, on the other side, didn’t manage to get the most out of their possession. Though able to break forward quickly and cause some trouble at the other end of the pitch at some rare occasions, Angers’ lack of cutting edge really hurt themselves in the game.
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