PSG chance to put pressure on Monaco
By D. Crossan
Paris Saint-Germain have the chance to pull provisionally clear of Monaco at the top of the table when they host Montpellier on Saturday afternoon.
Blaise Matuidi's late winner at Metz on Tuesday night brought the four-time defending champions level on points with the principality club, albeit having played a game more. And with Monaco not in action until Sunday evening, when they face a testing trip to Olympique Lyonnais, Unai Emery's men have the opportunity to put the pressure on the Champions League semi-finalists.
The Metz game, Emery's 50th in charge of the capital club, threatened to be a major setback for PSG as they allowed a two-goal advantage to slip. Matuidi popped up with a crucial winner to complete his first double since 2007 and hand Emery a 37th win of his spell at the helm, to go with eight draws and five defeats.
Emery: "Four minutes with the heart"
Emery admitted: "The team suffered mentally when Metz scored their two goals but we managed to rediscover the right spirit in order to score the third goal and win. The team played four minutes with the heart and we're happy. It was important to win in order to fulfil our objective of becoming champions."
It was a game PSG almost lost as Yann Jouffre struck the crossbar with a free-kick before Matuidi's winner. The midfielder said: "Of course we were worried and we're not going to hide that. We won and that was the most important thing. We had luck on our side. At times we didn't play the way we should have done."
Amidst the late drama, Edinson Cavani's 30th Ligue 1 goal of the season almost went unremarked even though it established a new club PB for a league season for El Matador, beating the 29 for Napoli which were enough for him to be the top scorer in Serie A in 2012-2013.
Since 1990 only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on two occasions, had managed to rack up 30 league goals in the French league. The Swede moving on to Manchester United has allowed the Uruguayan to hit new scoring heights, though Cavani will need a late season surge to match Ibrahimovic's 38 of 2015-2016. The striker has five appearances left to boost his tally.
December loss to avenge for PSG
2012 champions Montpellier - who beat PSG 3-0 in December - come to town on a high, off the back of consecutive victories over Caen and Lorient. The six points have diminished fears of relegation for the side coached by Jean-Louis Gasset, assistant to Laurent Blanc at Paris for the Ligue 1 titles of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Following the 2-0 home win over Lorient, Gasset said: "Now we've got 39 points, a good goal difference and two wins from two over relegation rivals in the same week. It's a big step towards staying up. We need to be attentive and play seriously in the last five matches, given the bizarre results the clubs at the bottom are having. We've managed to show up in the big matches. To be a good team we need to be consistent and that's not our strong point."
Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp; Aurier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Maxwell; Verratti, Thiago Motta; Di Maria, Cavani, Pastore
Montpellier: Pionnier; Mukiele, Hilton, Pokorny, Roussillon; Sylla, Skhiri; Sessegnon, Mbenza, Boudebouz; Mounié