Caen nervous as champions PSG arrive
By I. Holyman
With Paris Saint-Germain having wrapped up the title, relegation-haunted SM Caen will be hoping the new Ligue 1 Conforama champions go easy on them when the pair meet in Saturday's season finale.
SM Caen - Paris Saint-Germain
Facing PSG's galaxy of stars is formidable enough a prospect at the best of times, but it is far from the happiest period in Caen. The Normandy club looked safe with ten league games to go, sitting prettily in 12th place, seven points above the bottom three following their 2-0 win over RC Strasbourg-Alsace in Week 28.
Since, however, Patrice Garande's men have embarked on a run that can be described as nothing other than cataclysmic with just two points coming from their last nine league matches to leave them three points above the bottom three with 90 minutes of the campaign remaining.
Though they are certain not to finish in the bottom two and suffer automatic relegation to Domino's Ligue 2, they could still find themselves caught by Toulouse FC, the team currently in the promotion/relegation play-off position and who play at home to mid-table En Avant Guingamp for their final game.
WATCH: What happened when PSG met Caen before Christmas
A win for the south-westerners, and Caen will — given their inferior goal difference — find themselves with two legs against a second-tier side to play for their top-flight status if they fail to take anything from their game against the champions.
They are not helped by the suspension of defender Ismaël Diomandé and injuries to first-choice goalkeeper Rémy Vercoutre (shoulder) and forward Enzo Crivelli (pelvis), who coach Patrice Garande hopes to have available should the worst come to the worst.
"We took the decision that he'll miss the game. If we're in the play-off, I don't think he'll play the first leg. The idea is to give him a dozen days' recovery in the hope he'll be fit for the return leg," explained the Caen coach, who could also be missing young midfielder Jessy Deminguet.
"There's a good chance he'll be missing. But I'm going to wait until the last minute, even if that means Saturday morning."
Mbappé, Cavani doubts
Garande's desire to have the strongest possible team is accentuated by Caen having lost their last three home encounters with PSG in Ligue 1 Conforama with a combined goal difference of 11-0.
PSG have also won both of the club's previous meetings — in the league just before Christmas, and the recent Coupe de France semi-final — this season 3-1.
The visitors have slight doubts over Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani, who missed last weekend's defeat to Stade Rennais FC, and the pair trained individually at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday with the stands full of some 5000 children.
WATCH: Rennes poop PSG's title party
As coach Unai Emery takes charge of his final game before being replaced by Thomas Tuchel, Neymar Jr will also be absent as he continues his recovery from a fractured foot in time to boost Brazil's World Cup challenge.
The Brazilian superstar admitted he is making good progress with the problem that has sidelined him since late February.
"I have started to train with the ball, do some passing and shooting. I felt good, at ease," he wrote on Facebook this week. "Of course there was some apprehension, but I lost that little by little.
"Playing the World Cup after this injury is the biggest challenge of my career. It was hard because I was having a good season and I suddenly got injured. It's a new experience for me, and I don't want to go through it again, even if it serves as a lesson for me to redouble my efforts in training."
Caen: Samba - Guilbert, Da Silva, Djiku, Mbengue - Féret (c), Sankoh, Aït-Bennasser - Kouakou, Santini, Rodelin
PSG: Areola - Meunier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (c), Berchiche - Lo Celso, Thiago Motta, Rabiot - Pastore, Weah, Draxler