Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

PSG, Neymar turn attention to Coupe de France final

Publish on 24/04/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


With the French title clinched at the weekend, Paris Saint-Germain are now looking ahead to Saturday's Coupe de France final against Rennes, with fit-again Brazilian superstar Neymar looking to make his mark.

Paris Saint-Germain - including a fit-again Neymar - got back to winning ways on Sunday, beating Monaco at the Parc des Princes to celebrate the Ligue 1 Conforama title that had been secured earlier that afternoon when LOSC were held by Toulouse (0-0). Now the Parisians are looking to go a step further and claim another Coupe de France, against Rennes on Saturday night.

'Win the double'

At Paris, one trophy can well bring on another. Directly in the wake of the club's eighth national league title, coach Thomas Tuchel had his sights set on the next goal: "Our objective is clear: to win the double. We have to win on Saturday."

His side have a chance to win a fifth cup in a row at the Stade de France, but will it be a mere formality? Not necessarily, as the side have shown some chinks in their armour in 2019, with Coupe de la Ligue elimination by EA Guingamp in January followed by recent defeats to LOSC (5-1) and Nantes (3-2).

Defeat to Stade Rennais would really cast a pall on the season for Paris Saint-Germain, who have won 16 of the last 18 national titles on offer.

"The Coupe de France is very important to us, and we hope to clinch it and leave nothing for the others," explained goal-keeper Alphonse Areola, before defensive colleague Marquinhos chimed in. "A title is always about honour and pride. We all know what our objective for the season is, and that's to win a maximum of titles for the club."

With Neymar and Cavani, the future looks bright

An avalanche of injuries saw Paris Saint-Germain's end-of-season prospects come into question, and downward spiral took hold to the point that, after defeat in Nantes, Tuchel admitted to being "nervous" about the final. Against AS Monaco, however, things began to look up: star man Neymar returned to action, as did Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos. Angel Di Maria returned to the bench as well.

The return of Brazilian number ten Neymar - absent for three months with a toe injury - was excellent news for the Parisians, who had been struggling to create going forward without him. Kylian Mbappé, who bagged a hat-trick in the win over his former club Monaco, is thrilled at the news. "The two of them love playing together," noted Tuchel.

While Neymar eased back into action by playing just 45 minutes on Sunday, the German coach was clear that the playmaker would be "ready for Saturday". With the MCN strike force back in place, Paris Saint-Germain can lift their heads and get back to the business of chasing records, like the Ligue 1 Conforama points record for a single season, which currently sits at 96.

Doubts over Verratti and Kehrer?

Will Paris finally have a full-strength squad when they arrive at the Stade de France? Hard to say, as Marco Verratti and Thilo Kehrer are under a cloud after going off injured against Monaco. This could throw a planner in Tuchel's tactical works, especially if Verratti is suffering from a recurrence of the ankle injury that sidelined him in January. Kehrer is suffering from a right thigh complaint, but fellow defender and club captain Thiago Silva - absent against Monaco - could return for the big match, according to tuchel: "He will do his best to be with us for the final."