PSG eye European lifeline
Brazilian star Nenê feels that Paris Saint-Germain still have it within them to qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League while admitting mistakes earlier in the campaign have cost his side dear.
UEFA Europa League Group F, Matchday 6
Paris Saint-Germain - Athletic Bilbao
It was one of the pre-season objectives but PSG are teetering on the edge of elimination from the Europa League. Qualification for the last 32 is still possible but the capital side need to beat Group F winners Athletic Bilbao and hope that Slovan Bratislava can take points off Red Bull Salzburg in Slovakia.
Nenê, who has played in all five of PSG's group games to date, thinks that the equation is simple, "First of all we have to win the game, it is all down to us. We messed up against Salzburg and it would be a real shame to get knocked out because this is a beautiful competition," said the Brazilian. "I would be very sad but I am not thinking of that yet. There is still hope and if we have a bit of luck we will see if we can make it through.
Poor away form
PSG's continental aspirations took a huge dent when they lost 2-0 to Salzburg on Matchday 5 two weeks ago. It was the culmination of some sketchy away form, the Paris club also lost 2-0 in Bilbao and, in their three matches on the road, managed to collect just one point thanks to a 0-0 draw against Bratislava in October.
While PSG fate hinges partly on whether the Slovaks can prove to be equally as obdurate against Salzburg coach Antoine Kombouaré was quick to rubbish suggestions that he might field a weakened team with a view to a busy fortnight ahead. "We don't have one team for the Championship and another for the Europa League, said the former Valenciennes boss. "I have to pick a side and yes, I have a tricky fixture list to contend with. There are four games in 12 days between the Sochaux match last Saturday and Saint Etienne next week. The idea is to put out the best team and if it goes well and if we win, that would be the best way to prepare for this weekend's game against Lille."
Hoarau back in the squad
Kombouaré's opposite number Marcelo Bielsa is set to shuffle his line-up, the former Argentina coach is poised to field up to seven fringe players in order to keep his main men fresh for this weekend's La Liga clash with Real Zaragoza. The French giants, meanwhile, will be without Jérémy Ménez who was forced to sit out training earlier in the week but his absence is offset by the return to the squad of Guillaume Hoarau. The ex-Le Havre striker has been out since August with a shoulder injury.
PSG are the last French club to have tasted European glory when a team boasting the likes of Youri Djorkaeff and Rai beat Rapid Vienna in Brussels to lift the now defunct Cup Winners Cup back in 1995. The current crop is vying with another Austrian team, in the form of Salzburg, for the second qualification spot. Kombouaré's men will need a win against the already qualified Basques and a big helping hand from Bratislava to have any hope of emulating the class of 15 years ago.
PSG: Douchez - Ceara, Camara, Sakho, Armand - Bodmer, Sissoko - Jallet (or Bahebeck), Pastore, Nenê - Gameiro (or Erding)
Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz - Iraola, San José, Ekiza, Aurtenetxe (or Koikili) - Iturraspe, David Lopez - Susaeta, Gabilondo, Muniain - Toquero