October 21, 2016

PSG focus on Chelsea clash

Paris Saint-Germain head into Saturday’s clash at home to a resurgent Montpellier with most eyes firmly fixated on next week’s return leg at Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League.
PSG rebounded from losing their 46-game unbeaten domestic run at Lyon last weekend by remaining on course to defend their French Cup crown after beating Saint-Etienne 3-1 in midweek.

However, victory at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard potentially came at a cost with midfielder Blaise Matuidi facing a race against time to be fit for Wednesday’s trip to Stamford Bridge.

The France international was seen clutching his hamstring after he was taken off “as a precaution” midway through the second half, with Laurent Blanc admitting he was “worried” about Matuidi’s fitness.

Blanc will have to decide whether or not to rest key players ahead of the Chelsea clash, with Marco Verratti (groin) and Angel Di Maria (thigh) also struggling with injuries.

The PSG boss though was pleased with the manner in which the runaway Ligue 1 leaders responded at Saint-Etienne after suffering their first defeat of the season.

“We can’t erase (the loss), but we can use it to our advantage. That’s what we did (on Wednesday) and I’m very happy about it. It was a good way to respond after the defeat which provoked quite a buzz,” said Blanc, in quotes published by French daily L’Equipe.

“Montpellier will be a difficult match because we’ll be thinking about the game against Chelsea which will be huge,” said PSG captain Thiago Silva, with 2012 French champions Montpellier arriving in the capital on the back of three straight wins to pull clear of relegation trouble.

“We’re ready for Chelsea. I think everyone knows what awaits us over there. I hope (Matuidi) will be able to play because he’s an important player for the team,” the Brazilian added.

Defeat at Lyon means Paris can’t clinch a fourth straight French title this weekend, but they could do so next week should Monaco slip up at fellow European hopefuls Caen on Friday.

Monaco have lost just once in 15 league outings and have an eight-point cushion over Caen, who trail third-place Lyon on goal difference, in the race for the second automatic Champions League qualifying berth.

Four wins in five has reignited Lyon’s campaign and Bruno Genesio’s side will bid to build on recent momentum when Guingamp visit Parc OL in Sunday’s late game.

A four-match winless run has slowed Nice’s European charge, but they will fancy their chances of ending that series at home to bottom side Troyes on Saturday.

Rennes and Nantes, unbeaten in the league since November, meet in the Brittany derby with both sides also firmly in the hunt for Europe, while Saint-Etienne travel to slumping Angers.

Pascal Dupraz will embark on the daunting task of trying to salvage Toulouse’s top-flight status having replaced Dominique Arribage ahead of Sunday’s trip to Marseille.

Toulouse are 10 points from safety and without a win in eight, but there is hope as Marseille have struggled mightily at the Stade Velodrome with just two wins all season and none in their last 11 home fixtures.

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