Marco Verratti held PSG together but he needs more help
Paris surely welcomed Marco Verratti back to the starting lineup after he missed last weekend’s game against OGC Nice after getting suspended for one Ligue 1 match.
If not for Messi’s goal and Gigio’s supreme shot-stopping night, Verratti would have been the best Parisian player on the pitch yesterday for most PSG fans. So much so, in fact, that he got awarded the official Player of the Match Award by UEFA.
As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s been exactly 10 years since the Italian arrived in Paris. And 10 years later, he’s still, arguably, the best player in the Paris Saint-Germain lineup week in and week out.
Remove Verratti from the field, and the already-big gap between the defensive and offensive line would be so wide that it’s hard to imagine how Paris would make things work for 90 minutes in any reasonable capacity.
That, though, is a curse in disguise. Verratti was lucky to escape the game alive (literally) after suffering a horrid tackle that could have easily broken his leg and that VAR didn’t consider worthy of a red card.
Vitinha, Verratti’s partner in the middle of the park, wasn’t the worst player for Paris yesterday but he was, as is often the case, dependent on the Italian to put on a nice performance. Whenever the veteran Marco disappears or is not on the pitch, Vitinha feels lost and lacks confidence.
And of course, there is no third option in the middle with Christophe Galtier favoring a 5-2-3 formation in which three center-backs are flanked by two wing-backs as opposed to the 4-3-3 system employed by Mauricio Pochettino last season.
I’m not saying that change will make wonders for the team and fix all of their wrongs, but the midfield surely needs to have some more weight added to it with a line of four backing it instead of two wing-backs shuttling up and down the field without adding a lot to the build-up play.