PSG out for revenge in Strasbourg

Coupe de la Ligue

By I. Holyman

Paris Saint-Germain will be hoping revenge really is a dish best served cold when they begin their Coupe de la Ligue defence at RC Strasbourg Alsace in freezing eastern France on Wednesday.

 RC Strasbourg Alsace - Paris Saint-Germain 


PSG have won the Coupe de la Ligue in each of the last four seasons, and while maintaining their grip on the trophy will be a priority, the Ligue 1 Conforama leaders will also have their recent trip to the Stade de la Meinau in mind.

The capital club arrived on 2 December unbeaten in all competitions this season, but in the space of 90 frenetic minutes, saw their flawless start to the 2017-18 campaign ended as the hosts ran out shock 2-1 winners.

That was followed by defeat at Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, and though last weekend's return to winning ways at home to LOSC Lille steadied the ship, Unai Emery and his side are determined they will not be surprised again.

"It's a competition that we want to win, there's a trophy up for grabs. We'll have to play for the full 90 minutes. It's a tie away from home, it's going to be tough," said the PSG coach. "Strasbourg are doing well right now. They beat us and then they went and won 3-0 at Bordeaux. The stadium will be full, it'll be a good match, it'll be a great cup tie. There's a trophy at stake, so we want to win."

Following a trip to Brazil for personal reasons, Neymar Jr will not be in the PSG side, nor will the injured Adrien Rabiot, Thiago Silva or Layvin Kurzawa. The latter's absence, coupled with Yuri Berchiche's suspension, means Dani Alves may switch from right-back to the left side of the back four, though young Stanley Nsoki, 18, could also feature at left-back.

WATCH: PSG slip to defeat in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, who followed up their win over PSG with a promising 3-0 victory at Girondins de Bordeaux, will have summer recruit Pablo Martinez available finally after he recovered from injury. Jonas Martin and Anthony Gonçalves can also play.

However, the injury-enforced absence of in-form forward Martin Terrier, who scored and provided an assist against Bordeaux, will be a major handicap with Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey aware his team's recent league success owed as much to luck as to his players' skills.

"When you look at the stats, you would say Paris had won 4-0," said Laurey, whose team scored with both their attempts on target while a scattergun PSG waywardly fired 29 attempts at goal, only five of which were on target.

"Sometimes, as the result of a misunderstanding in football, you manage to slip through the net, but it has to be a big misunderstanding."

He added: "We have to be realistic. They're not coming here to joke around. Last time, they had their minds elsewhere a little bit. Now they know where Strasbourg is and they're not going to come here half-baked. We're going to have to bend, but not break."

Probable teams

Strasbourg: Oukidja; Seka, Salmier, Koné, Martinez; Grimm; Gonçalves, Martin, Nogueira, Bahoken; Blayac

PSG: Trapp; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Meunier; Verratti, Lo Celso; Di Maria, Pastore, Mbappé; Cavani

>> PRE-MATCH STATS: Strasbourg vs. PSG

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