Christophe Ena/Associated Press
Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery will reportedly leave captain Thiago Silva on the bench for Wednesday’s clash with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
As relayed by Get French Football News, L’Equipe has noted the Brazilian will be a substitute for the match at the Santiago Bernabeu, with youngster Presnel Kimpembe to step in:
Get French Football @GFFN
Breaking | Huge shock coming out of the PSG camp: manager Unai Emery has decided to drop captain Thiago Silva for young French defender Presnel Kimpembe to face Real Madrid tonight. (L’Équipe)
According to Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC, Marquinhos is set to lead PSG out for the first leg of the last-16 tie:
Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip
Also, if Thiago Silva has been dropped, Marquinhos will captain PSG with Thiago Motta also absent. #RCMPSG #UCL https://t.co/eKIRiwtOzY
During his time at PSG, Silva has established himself as one of the best defenders in world football, although this term he hasn’t been as consistent.
Even so, according to L’Equipe (h/t Get French Football News), Silva is “incredibly surprised” at the manager’s decision.
While he’s not been at his best lately, there aren’t many players in the PSG squad with experience comparable to Silva, and in such a high-pressure game, that knowhow may prove to be vital. Additionally, the 33-year-old is a tremendous leader at the base of the side.
Instead, it appears as though the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will have to get past Marquinhos and Kimpembe in the centre-back positions. Ligue 1 journalist Jeremy Smith believes bringing in the Frenchman is the right decision:
Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98
Suggests that it is Emery who picks the team after all! Now he just needs to be brave enough to drop Alves for the far better right now Meunier.
The 22-year-old is no novice at this level, having been around the PSG squad since making his debut in 2014.
Emery may also think back to the manner in which PSG crumbled to a 6-1 loss at the home of Madrid’s big rivals Barcelona last season. Per the EiF Twitter account, Kimpembe missed that match despite performing exceptionally in the first leg:
Clearly Emery has been following our timeline. Kimpembe was absolutely immense in the 1st leg vs. Barcelona last year and then was dropped for the 2nd leg for Thiago Silva and we all know what happened next…
Kimpembe’s athleticism will be key to containing CR7 and Bale. https://t.co/iZUit9mTLz
The decision is an enormous one from Emery, and should PSG struggle in defence, criticism will no doubt come his way for leaving the captain out of such an enormous encounter.
But the Ligue 1 giants have come up short consistently in the Champions League, suggesting a fresh approach is required.