Paris out to steal a march in Metz
Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to pile the pressure on title rivals Monaco as they play their postponed Week 31 Ligue 1 clash in Metz on Tuesday, while the home side look for precious points to ease clear of the drop.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
FC Metz - Paris Saint-Germain
As the rounds tick by, AS Monaco's lead over second-placed Paris Saint-Germain seems locked at three points but this week, the capital club have a chance to buck the trend as they contest the Week 31 match in Metz that was postponed due to PSG's winning Coupe de la Ligue final - against Monaco.
A win on Tuesday night would see Unai Emery's side in with a chance of taking a provisional three-point lead when they face Montpellier at the Parc des Princes in their Week 34 clash on Saturday, with Monaco travelling to Lyon for Sunday night's big game.
Emery: 'Stay focused'
"Another week has gone by and the gap on the table hasn't changed. Tomorrow night we have the chance to draw level on points - provisionally - with Monaco, but we mustn't focus on them, nor on Nice, who are still in the race," declared Emery, whose side prevailed 2-0 in a tough match in Angers at the weekend. "We have to prepare well so we can play good football and get the three points in Metz tomorrow. After that, we'll be able to look a bit further ahead to our next match, against Montpellier. We need to stay focused; all the matches we have left to play will be difficult ones against sides who also need points in order to achieve their objectives."
Although such an advantage would be primarily psychological, as Monaco will of course still have their Week 31 match with Saint-Etienne to play, psychology seems to have played a big part in the capital club's recovery after a slow start to the season.
Emery: 'Feeling better and better'
"I think the team feels good; the second half of the season reflects that. We demand the very best in order to have consistent performances; we have to think about work and what we need to improve on every day; we have to constantly think about these things and look to improve," said Emery, whose side have won 19, drawn two and lost just one match in all competitions in 2017. "The club is solid and continues to grow. The team is playing very well and feeling better and better. We know what we have to do tomorrow in order to stay on this track: keep this positive frame of mind and maintain this dynamic."
Although the Spaniard is without the injured Layvin Kurzawa, Julian Draxler and Hatem Ben Arfa, he is tipped to field a near-full strength line-up with fit-again captain Thiago Silva returning to the centre of defence alongside compatriot Marquinhos while last seasons' preferred midfield three of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi should occupy the centre of the pitch.
Meanwhile Metz boss Philippe Hinschberger's main priority is making sure that his side avoid the yo-yo effect and avoid an immediate return to Ligue 2. After drawing 2-2 at home to Caen at the weekend, Metz are five points clear of 18th-placed Lorient and could take a giant step towards safety with a three-point haul at home to PSG.
However, Hinschberger has to keep Saturday's clash with resurgent Lorient in mind and, on top of the suspension absences of Renaud Cohade, Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Florent Mollet, the Grenats' boss is tipped to rest first-choice 'keeper Thomas Didillon.
David Oberhauser is tipped to deputise and face PSG's fearsome front three of Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, while winter recruit Cheick Diabaté - who has bagged six goals in his last seven matches at the Stade Saint-Symphorien - will look to test Kevin Trapp in the visitors' goal.
FC Metz: Oberhauser; Balliu, Bisevac, Milan, Udol; Doukouré (c), Diagne, Philipps; Nguette, Erding, Lejeune
Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp; Meunier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva (c), Maxwell; Verratti, Thiago Motta, Matuidi; Di Maria, Cavani, Pastore