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Pride at stake for PSG against diminished Angers

Publish on 09/05/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Paris Saint-Germain will attempt to arrest their alarming end-of-season slump when they head to Angers SCO on Saturday, with Kylian Mbappé again missing for the champions.

Angers SCO  -  Paris Saint-Germain 

There may be nothing tangible at stake for PSG when they run out at the Stade Raymond Kopa, but then again that seems to be part of the problem for Thomas Tuchel's team at the moment as they limp towards the finish line.

In an ideal world for the capital club, they would still have been involved in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, but they were reduced to the role of spectators for a couple of dramatic semi-final second legs, which included their former player, Lucas Moura, scoring a hat-trick to take Tottenham Hotspur to the final at the expense of Ajax.

PSG began to lose their way when they were eliminated in the last 16 by Manchester United, but the dip in form really began last month, and they come into this weekend having managed just one win in their last seven games in all competitions. That form has seen them take just five points from a possible 18 in Ligue 1 Conforama and lose the Coupe de France final on penalties to Stade Rennais FC.

Nevertheless, with a sixth league title in seven seasons already secure, they can still beat last season's points tally of 93 by winning their remaining three matches. After this they finish the campaign with a home game against Dijon FCO and a trip to Stade de Reims.

"We want to finish in the best possible manner and give our travelling fans something to shout about," said Ángel Di María after Paris were held to a 1-1 draw at home by OGC Nice last weekend as Edinson Cavani squandered a stoppage-time penalty.

Silva has surgery

Mbappé completes a three-game ban here following his sending-off in the Cup final so will have to wait to add to his tally of 30 goals for the campaign. Meanwhile, skipper Thiago Silva is out for the remainder of the campaign after having knee surgery and could also miss the Copa America with Brazil as a result.

Lucas was still a PSG player and came off the bench when they won 5-0 in Angers last season, and the home side will be hoping to avoid a repeat of that score-line as they still harbour ambitions of a top-half finish.

Stéphane Moulin's side won 1-0 at Girondins de Bordeaux last weekend thanks to Stéphane Bahoken's 11th goal of the season. They have suffered just one defeat in their last nine matches, with that a narrow loss away to Olympique Lyonnais. In addition, SCO are unbeaten in their last seven home games.

Tough end to season

That form means Angers are 12th in the table, well clear of the relegation zone and still in with a chance of bettering their run to ninth place with 50 points in 2015-16, their first season back in the elite. It would be a fine return, considering they lost their star player, Karl Toko Ekambi, to Villarreal last summer and have one of the tightest budgets in the division.

"Just because we no longer have anything to fear it doesn't mean we no longer have anything to play for," said Moulin after last week's victory, which left Angers a massive 15 points clear of the bottom three. "The players set themselves an objective for the last eight matches of the season and there are still three to play."

A very tough end to the campaign is in store, though, with Angers due to visit second-placed LOSC and then host AS Saint-Etienne in their remaining games.

Ludovic Butelle should return in goal after illness kept him out last weekend, but centre-back Romain Thomas is still out along with Cheikh Ndoye, while Thomas Mangani (foot) and Pierrick Capelle (back) are struggling too.

Probable teams

Angers: To follow

Paris Saint-Germain: To follow