The switch to three central defenders is the biggest change so far at PSG under Galtier who has adapted the team to a 1-3-4-2-1 shape. This formation primarily serves to use the skills of all three defenders to play the ball, but also prompts the wing-backs to overloading the wings. Changes to 1-3-5-2 (or exceptionally 1-4-3-2-1) is driven more by the need of the match or the limitations of the squad than Galtier’s preference.
PSG’s pressing is passive and lacks team discipline. In defense the lack of commitment from the offensive players is characteristic and most attempts to win the ball come down to the efforts of individual players who often operate without support or coordination with their partners, so that rivals generally have no trouble forcing their pressing lines.
In attack the team completely changes. Overloading and rotation are the hallmarks of Galtier’s team. With the ball the players move in an organised and coordinated manner, constantly changing positions in search of free space or pass.
Building up from the back three central defenders position themselves very wide and the wing-backs are providing not only the width and support in the offensive third, but also take a significant part in the first playmaking phase. The dynamic centre (Vitinha, Verratti) work very close with the offensive three (Messi, Neymar, Mbappe) who position very narrowly leaving wide channels for the wing-backs.
The constant search for free spaces, dribbling attempts and dynamics rotation of this trio are proving extremely effective. This is particularly evident with the advanced forward’s willingness to provide depth and constantly absorb defenders, giving more freedom and space between the lines for partners.