Will it be messy for Metz at PSG?
By I. Holyman
FC Metz will arrive at the Parc des Princes for Wednesday's Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain with some trepidation as the hosts have hit the ground running in 2017.
PSG ended 2016 with a 5-0 home win over FC Lorient, and started the new year in a still more impressive manner. SC Bastia were taken apart 7-0 by the Coupe de France holders in the French capital in their Round of 64 tie on Saturday to take their tally in two home matches to a formidable 12 goals scored, none conceded.
A club record seven different scorers found the net against the Corsicans, including January signing Julian Draxler on his competitive debut, and coach Unai Emery could not have been happier with the way his team have begun the year.
"I think the team has a lot of confidence at home, we're able to play the way we want to. We're playing well, so we have consistency in terms of our results," he said after also seeing his squad defeat Tunisian side Club Africain 3-0 in a friendly last week. "We got better the longer the game went on, we got stronger and stronger. The aim is to improve in terms of the demands across the team.
"Each team that plays against us tries to shut up shop, so it's complicated to get round them. But with tiredness and the intensity of the match, spaces open up automatically. We showed patience in the first half, and were able to pick up where we left off after the break. We put an emphasis on pressing, and you could see that in our play."
Third in Ligue 1 at the halfway stage of the season, PSG's title defence is temporarily put on hold as they continue their quest to retain their cup crowns. They will have to do so without Javier Pastore, who continues to be troubled by a knee injury, though Thiago Silva should be available. The PSG captain was substituted at half-time of the Bastia game after taking a blow to the lower back.
Metz arrive in the capital having started the year on the low of a Coupe de France loss at Ligue 2 side RC Lens, and Philippe Hinschberger's men have won just one of their last seven competitive outings.
That triumph was one for the ages though as they came through 11-10 on penalties against Toulouse FC to clinch their place in the Coupe de la Ligue last eight. In an incredible shoot-out, the first 21 spot-kicks were all scored before Toulouse goalkeeper Mauro Goicochea missed to send Metz through. It was their second successive shoot-out triumph in the competition after seeing off another capital club, Paris FC, in the Round of 32 in October.
It was also a rare highlight this season for the Lorraine club, who were docked two points for the incident that led to their Ligue 1 game against Olympique Lyonnais in early December being abandoned, dropping them to second-from-bottom of the top-flight table.
Paris Saint-Germain: Areola; Maxwell, Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Meunier; Matuidi, Verratti, Rabiot; Lucas, Cavani, Di Maria
FC Metz: Oberhauser; Signorino, Falette, Milan, Balliu; Cohade, Mollet, Philipps; Maziz, Erding, Nguette