PSG on guard against dogged Dijon
By I. Holyman
Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain will not be taking three points for granted when they face struggling Dijon FCO on Wednesday.
Paris Saint-Germain - Dijon FCO
On paper, PSG should canter to victory at the Parc des Princes: Unai Emery's men boast more than twice the number of points than their Week 21 opponents and have a 100% record in 2018 while Dijon are yet to win in two competitive games this year.
However, the duo's meeting earlier in the campaign was one of PSG's toughest yet, and it took Thomas Meunier's added-time strike - the second of an unlikely double from the Belgium international defender in the match - to secure a 2-1 win in Burgundy in October.
After a 6-1 Coupe de France victory over Stade Rennais FC and a Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final triumph against Angers, PSG were also seriously tested on Sunday at Nantes where only Angel Di Maria's first-half strike earned them victory.
WATCH: Di Maria gives PSG win at Nantes
"Nantes are a club with an impressive list of honours and a good team. They also have fans that push them on. They battle for every ball. Despite that, we controlled the first half well," said PSG boss Unai Emery, whose side stretched their lead at the top to 11 points as AS Monaco and Olympique Lyonnais behind them could only draw. "We had some chances. It's the kind of match that improves the team We were under more pressure than usual after the half-time break."
"Nantes started the game very well. In the first half, they had some chances. If we didn't kill the game, we knew that, with their fans and the atmosphere, they could get back into it," Marquinhos added. "The coach understood that and made the necessary changes. That's what balanced the game out at the end. We had chances, that's good. The three points are the most important thing, especially here at Nantes, everyone knows that.
"We have players who can escape their pressing and if we lose the ball, we know they can have counter-attacks; It's our philosophy to play the ball out from the back. But I think Nantes worked well, they were strong in midfield and that's why we had difficulties. We're on the right track. It's good preparation, you also have to get through games like that."
Dijon have failed to score and lost both times on their previous two visits to the Parc des Princes for a league game.
Should - against all the odds - Olivier Dall'Oglio's men improve on that record, it would provide a welcome boost for a team that though they come into the game in ninth place, are just four points above 17th-placed ESTAC Troyes and only a further two points clear of the bottom two.
They would have been in a healthier position had they held on to the lead afforded them by Julio Tavares' first-minute goal against bottom side FC Metz last weekend, but Nolan Roux's 89th-minute equaliser meant major disappointment for the hosts.
WATCH: Dijon give PSG a scare
"There's a lot of frustration," admitted goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, despite his side extending their unbeaten streak at home to six league games since their Week 9 defeat to PSG.
"We got ourselves into a good position, we knew that we had to get into the game quickly. We started in the best possible way by scoring early. After that, we suffered and Metz deserved to equalise. They pushed throughout the second half and we were punished.
"Their system caused us a huge amount of problems. There were too many technical errors to hope for something else. The unbeaten run at home continues, but it's true that we would have hoped to get a better result."
PSG: Areola; Meunier, Thiago Silva (cap), Kimpembe, Berchiche; Verratti, Lo Celso, Draxler; Di Maria, Cavani, Neymar.
Dijon: Reynet; Chafik, Yambéré, Varrault (cap), Haddadi; Abeid; Kwon, Marié, Balmont, Sammaritano; Tavares.