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Paris look to bounce back on trip to Amiens

Publish on 11/01/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Ligue 1 Conforama leaders Paris Saint-Germain make the short trip to the Stade de la Licorne to play Amiens SC on Saturday on the rebound following their shock exit from the Coupe de la Ligue.

Amiens SC  -  Paris Saint-Germain

Paris saw an incredible 44-game winning run across France's two domestic Cup competitions come to an end as they lost 2-1 at home to EA Guingamp on Wednesday in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, the defeat ending their five-year grip on the trophy.

Thomas Tuchel's side had been in front at the Parc des Princes through Neymar Jr's 18th goal of the season in all competitions, but Guingamp scored two late penalties - having earlier missed another spot-kick with the game goalless - to inflict a first defeat on PSG in a national knockout competition since Montpellier Hérault SC beat them 2-1 in the Coupe de France in January 2014.

One defeat does not constitute a crisis in the capital, but there is legitimate cause for some concern in the context of their recent form. Discounting PSG's 4-0 win against fifth-tier minnows GSI Pontivy in the Coupe de France last weekend, it is two months since they beat anyone by more than a single goal in a domestic game.

"We should have killed the game and now allowed the other team to come back into it," said Marco Verratti after Wednesday's loss, in which Kylian Mbappé was some way short of his best.

"It is not just a defeat - we have lost an opportunity to win a title. We'll need to have a think about what we can do better," added Brazilian defender Marquinhos, who again appeared in a midfield role.

Reinforcements wanted

Tuchel confirmed after that game that he is desperate to see new faces arrive in the January transfer window to strengthen his midfield at a time when Adrien Rabiot has been frozen out after refusing to sign a new contract, while Lassana Diarra is seemingly on his way out of the club.

Nevertheless, Paris are aiming to be at their very best in time for next month's UEFA Champions League first leg away to Manchester United, and they have plenty of margin for error coming into their clash with Amiens.

Still unbeaten in the league this season, Paris ended 2018 with a huge lead of 13 points over LOSC in second place and with two games in hand. Another league title seems an inevitability, but Tuchel will want a much improved performance here before his squad set off for a short training camp in Qatar from Sunday to Thursday.

Amiens 'not worried'

This is a third home game in eight days for Amiens, after they beat second-tier Valenciennes FC 1-0 in the Coupe de France last weekend and then drew 0-0 with Angers SCO in a rearranged league fixture in midweek.

Christophe Pelissier's side have lost just once in five in all competitions, but have managed a solitary victory in their last six league outings. They lie 17th, just two points above the bottom three having played a game more than the sides below them.

"I am not worried but it is a shame that we did not take three points against Angers on Tuesday because they were there for the taking. We will need to have a great second half of the season and beat our direct rivals to stay up," Bakaye Dibassy, Amiens' player of the month for December, said in an interview with the Courrier Picard.

Of facing the leaders, the Paris-born defender added: "There is always a chance even if it is very difficult. They are not unplayable."

Probable teams

Amiens: Gurtner – Krafth, Gouano (cap.), Adenon, Dibassy – Gnahoré, Monconduit, Bodmer, Blin, Mendoza – Timité

PSG: Areola – Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva (cap.), Nsoki, Bernat – Verratti, Marquinhos – Mbappé, Draxler, Di Maria – Cavani