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Ligue 1

Neymar, Icardi, Mbappé, Cavani, Di Maria: Tuchel's PSG problem

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel faces a selection dilemma, or will have to change his formation, with his five attacking stars available for the first time.

Cavani, Neymar, Icardi, Mbappé y Di María, los delanteros del PSG.

It is a problem many managers would like to be handed but Thomas Tuchel faces a selection dilemma at Paris Saint-Germain with his attacking quintet of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani, Mauro Icardi and Ángel di María all available for the first time this season.

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Tuchel has rarely strayed from his preferred 4-3-3 so far in 2019-20, deploying the system just twice in Ligue 1 against Strasbourg and Stade Brest in the final fixture before the international break, a 2-1 win with Di María, Cavani, Pablo Sarabia and Julian Draxler starting and Icardi coming off the bench to provide the winner. Mbappé and Neymar were both unavailable. Against Strasbourg, Neymar and Di María started with Cavani and Mbappé both injured and Icardi on the bench.

The depth of Tuchel’s squad this season is a blessing and a curse. Players such as Draxler, Leandro Paredes and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have been handed bit-part roles and summer addition Ander Herrera has failed to nail down a permanent place in a constantly rotating midfield. The previously undroppable Cavani has been mostly confined to the bench after returning from injury, starting only the game against Brest out of a possible four in all competitions.

Icardi keeping top scorer Cavani on the bench

PSG forwards' attacking stats in 2019-20

PlayerGamesMinutesGoalsAssistsGoals per MinuteAssists per minute
Di María181,33589166.88148.33

The form of Icardi is the main reason for Cavani’s splinter-gathering. The on-loan Inter Milan striker has taken to Ligue 1 like a duck to water, bagging 9 goals in 10 games, the same amount as Mbappé but at a quicker average rate than even the France international.

Di María, such an integral ingredient in the PSG pudding, has provided the icing by coming out of the blocks in the form of his career. The Argentinean has scored eight goals and provided nine assists in 18 games and has played by far the largest number of minutes of Tuchel’s star quintet, dragging the side through the fixtures that his attacking colleagues have sat out.

As it stands, Cavani appears to be the spare part in what will probably become a quartet when all five are fit and firing. PSG’s 4-3-3 will be compromised by dropping one of the more natural attacking players into midfield, although Di María can fill a number of roles and covers as much ground as any player at the Parc des Princes. And although Tuchel told L’Équipe that “I’m not sure changing the system for a player is a good idea,” the German tactician may be willing to experiment further with a 4-2-3-1 to better accommodate at least four of the five.

Neymar will likely be eased back into the side amid ongoing concerns over his injury record at PSG but when the Brazilian is fully fit Tuchel will have to reveal his hand. And as it stands, it will not be one Cavani, the club’s all-time record scorer, will enjoy the sight of.


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