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Meunier calls on PSG to 'live up to favourites tag'

Publish on 09/08/2019 at 09:30

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Paris Saint-Germain must "live up to the billing" of favourites to win Ligue 1 Conforama this season says Thomas Meunier as the French champions kick off their title defence against Nîmes Olympique on Sunday.

 Paris Saint-Germain - Nîmes Olympique 

PSG claimed the eighth league crown in the club's history and the sixth in the last seven years in 2018/19, and then added a 40th piece of silverware to the trophy cabinet — and the 22nd since Qatar Sports Investment took the reins in 2011 — by beating Stade Rennais FC in the Trophée des Champions barely a week before their return to domestic action.

With Ander Herrera, Pablo Sarabia and Abdou Diallo having been added to a squad that finished 16 points clear of the field last season, Thomas Tuchel has greater strength in depth, and will be hopeful his side can repeat their record start to the 2018/19 campaign which saw them win their first 14 matches to lay the platform for their title triumph.

Those successes have only served to confirm PSG as the team to beat in French football, and Meunier is fully aware of the expectations on him and his teammates, who will hope to also reclaim the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France titles that slipped from their grasp last term.

WATCH: What happened when Nîmes came to PSG last season

"When you play for Paris Saint-Germain, we know that there's nowhere to hide, especially here in France. That means there's the pressure of being the favourites for the league title and the Cup competitions. We need to live up to the billing. My teammates and I will give 100% in every single match to try and make the difference, whoever the opponent," explained the Belgium international, first-choice right-back now following the summer departure of Dani Alves.

"The Trophée des Champions was the first real match of the new season. Now the Ligue 1 campaign begins on Sunday at home to Nimes. We want to start the same way as last season. To start like that would be fabulous because it was really an exceptional start. We are working very well, everyone is focused and committed, whether it be in training or in the pre-season matches. I'm confident."

Mbappé, Di Maria in form

Pre-season results were positive globally with Tuchel's men slipping to defeat only to Inter Milan, and that in a penalty shoot-out, and last season's French top-flight leading scorer, Kylian Mbappé, has already shown he is ready to hit the ground running.

The FIFA World Cup winner, who claimed a division-high 33 goals in 2018/19, struck against Rennes before Angel Di Maria added a sublime free-kick that saw PSG bounce back from conceding an early opener in the Chinese city of Shenzhen to claim the Trophée des Champions for the seventh successive season.

"The Trophée des Champions is a title, and that's always important for an ambitious club like Paris Saint-Germain. We want to win everything and we do everything to win as much as we can, with the right attitude and with the right character. We played very well against Rennes. We pressured them very high up the pitch. It was also very positive that we were able to come from behind. Winning after being behind on the scoreboard is never easy," said Meunier, who has been impressed with the team during pre-season.

"It was good. We played two matches in Germany, during which we tried out some new things. The new signings were able to show what they can do. I think all the transfers this summer have been very intelligent. Each new player brings a lot to the team and they've shown it in training. It was a good preseason, intense, but positive."

While Sarabia and Diallo are set to make their league debuts for the club, Herrera will have to wait after sustaining an injury while Neymar Jr could feature after working his way back to fitness during the summer and finishing a three-game ban.

Nîmes, who impressed last season by finishing ninth in their first top-flight campaign since 1992/93, will have their work cut out to take anything from their trip to the Parc des Princes, particularly after the summer departure of Téji Savanier, the only man to record more Ligue 1 Conforama assists than Di Maria last season.

Probable teams

PSG: Areola; Meunier, Thiago Silva, Diallo, Bernat; Sarabia, Marquinhos, Verratti; Di Maria, Cavani, Mbappé

Nîmes: Bernardoni; Alakouch, Briançon, Martinez, Miguel; Bobichon, Paquiez, Valls; Ferhat, Ripart, Philippoteaux