Paris Saint-Germain do battle against in-form bogey team RC Strasbourg Alsace on Wednesday for a place in the last 16 of the Coupe de France.
Coupe de France, round of 32
Parc des Princes, Paris
Paris Saint-Germain - RC Strasbourg Alsace - kick-off at 21:05 CET
PSG have plenty of reasons to be wary as they travel to France's east to take on in-form Strasbourg at the Stade de la Meinau on Wednesday. First of all, the four-time resining Coupe de France holders recently conceded their first domestic cup defeat in five years, crashing out of the Coupe de la Ligue 2-1 at the hands of Ligue 1 Conforama's bottom club Guingamp.
Sure, Paris handed the Brittany club a vengeful 9-0 hammering in their league clash at the weekend, but Paris have struggled against Strasbourg in their last two league encounters conceding their first defeat of last season and their second non-victory of the current campaign to Le Racing.
Tuchel: 'A huge challenge'
Thus coach Thomas Tuchel has been peddling a precautionary philosophy ahead of this tie.
"It's a huge challenge. They have the second-most prolific attack in Ligue 1 Conforama, they're also very strong defensively and they're on a run of four away wins," declared the German, whose fearsome front three of Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Neymar Jr occupy the top three spots n tithe Ligue 1 Conforama scores chart, in that order. "We want to go all the way to the final at the Stade de France. But before dreaming about that, we have to focus on Wednesday's match. We were eliminated from the Coupe de la Ligue by Guingamp and lost the opportunity to win that trophy. It's important for us to beat Strasbourg. That's our aim."
While Tuchel is tipped to be resting Cavani and captain Thiago Silva ahead of what could prove a tough match at home to Rennes on Sunday night, and has to do without the injured Marco Verratti, he still has a formidable line-up to field with Dani Alves alongside Julian Draxler in defensive midfield and Mbappé as lone strike ahead of playmaker Neymar in a 4-2-3-1.
Meanwhile Strasbourg boss Thierry Laurey has been typically relaxed and frank in the lead-up to the big game, even though his side have every reason to hope for the best given their qualification for the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals and a 5-1 hammering of Monaco in the league at the weekend that took them into fifth place.
"To be honest, the Coupe de France is the competition we're least focused on," said the RCSA boss, who has been giving his youngsters a go in the Coupe de France this season. "But it's important for any team to give their best when they travel to Paris. Let's be honest: it's the place you want to avoid at this stage of the cup."
Laurey is tipped to stick with many of the young players who won past Domino's Ligue 2 side Grenoble 1-0 a.e.t. in their rescheduled round of 64 clash a week ago. Thus the likes Ludovic Ajorque, Ibrahim Sissoko and Adrien Thomasson, all of whom were on the scorecard in the Monaco win, make way for the likes of Kevin Zohi and Youssouf Fofana while first-team regulars Matz Sels in goal, defenders Pablo Martinez and Kenny Lala and striker Lebo Mothiba remain.
Paris Saint-Germain: Areola; Meunier, Kehrer, Marquinhos (c), Bernat; D. Alves, Draxler; Di Maria, Neymar, Diaby; Mbappé
RC Strasbourg Alsace: Sels; Lala, P. Martinez, Ndour, Carole; A. Gonçalves, Y. Fofana, Liénard (c), Zohi; Grandsir, Mothiba