Toulouse next in line for buoyant PSG
By A. Scott
With confidence sky-high after their stunning performance against FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain turn their attentions back to the Ligue 1 title race as they host Toulouse FC at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain - Toulouse FC
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Unai Emery's side have received praise from all across Europe after destroying the Catalans in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, with Ángel di María scoring twice on his birthday. It has been hailed in France as one of the greatest ever performances by a French club in European competition, but Emery was quick to calm the euphoria in the wake of the win by insisting that the tie is not won yet. PSG go to the Camp Nou for the return early next month and before then they have four domestic matches to focus on.
Toulouse are first up before a trip to Marseille for the Classique next weekend as Paris look to keep the pressure firmly on AS Monaco at the top of the table in their quest for a fifth consecutive Ligue 1 title.
"When you win 4-0 against one of the best teams in the world, we're allowed to be satisfied with ourselves. We have to enjoy this moment, and then focus on the match against Toulouse," said director of football Patrick Kluivert after Tuesday's game.
Watch: PSG outclass Girondins de Bordeaux last weekend
That result extended PSG's unbeaten start to 2017 and they have won 11 and drawn one of their last 12 games in all competitions, scoring 38 goals and conceding just four in that time. In the league they have collected 19 points from the last 21 available to stay hot on Monaco's heels.
Emery's team selection will be interesting, with Thiago Silva having missed the Barcelona game due to a calf problem. Thiago Motta is available after serving a ban in midweek, while Javier Pastore returned against the Spanish champions and January signing Gonçalo Guedes is pushing for his first start for the club.
The strength in depth is frightening for opponents and Toulouse coach Pascal Dupraz joked that if Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suárez and co can be blown away by PSG, his team should stand no chance when they head to the capital.
"Barcelona's budget is 700 million euros, ours is 35 million. That is 20 times greater, and 20 times four is 80. So logically speaking if we lose 79-0 we are doing better than Barca. However, if we lose 79-0 we will look like idiots," Dupraz said.
Toulouse have not won in the league at the Parc des Princes since 2008. Last season they lost three times there, being beaten 5-0 in the league and being knocked out of both cup competitions by Paris. Their away form this season has been poor too - eight away games have passed since they recorded their solitary victory on the road this campaign, against LOSC in September.
Watch: Toulouse too good for SC Bastia
However, Dupraz's team beat Paris 2-0 at Le Stadium earlier this season and they have been in excellent form so far this month, taking seven points from a possible nine to raise hopes of a push for European qualification. They have scored four goals in home wins against Angers SCO and SC Bastia either side of a 1-1 draw at FC Lorient, with January signing Andy Delort finding the net in each of these matches.
"If Andy Delort makes it four goals in four games, I won't say no to that," added Dupraz. "However I am not sure that will be enough for us to win. My team has woken up and is hungry for wins and points. Before thinking about fourth place or fifth place we need to secure survival as quickly as possible. We still need nine points."
But can they seriously succeed where Luis Enrique's team so spectacularly failed?
"Our game is not the same as Barça's. We don't look to dominate possession. We have our own identity and we like to get forward quickly. We can compete with them. I have an idea in mind but I won't tell you what it is," said the coach.
Paris SG: Trapp; Aurier, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Maxwell; Rabiot, Thiago Motta, Matuidi; Lucas, Cavani, Draxler
Toulouse: Lafont; Amian, Diop, Jullien, Moubandjé; Blin, Pi; Jean, Trejo, Braithwaite; Delort