Paris Saint-Germain welcome league leaders AS Monaco to the Parc des Princes on Sunday for a pivotal match in Ligue 1 between the two French giants. It’s the first real test of 2017 for the capital club and the eventual result, whichever way it goes, will go a long way in deciding who will be crowned champions.
In a week where PSG learned they will face Monaco in the Coupe de la Ligue final in April, it appears Monaco will be a thorn in the side of Les Rouge et Bleu for the rest of the season in multiple competitions.
Described as a small final by Thiago Silva, this match is crucial for PSG but it should be pointed out that even a victory won’t take them above Monaco given their impressive goal difference (43). Still, drawing level on points is vital if the reigning French champions want to apply pressure to Leonardo Jardim’s high-scoring team in the ladder stages of the season.
With plenty of notable names and young talent on display, this match is the marquee advert for Ligue 1 and represents a chance for both sides to send a strong message to the rest of Europe. Monaco absolutely outclassed PSG in a 3-1 defeat back in August and revenge must be strong on the minds of Emery’s men. They are riding high after a string of impressive victories to start the new year and they’ll want to continue that with a tie against Barcelona on the horizon.
Les Rouge et Blancs are on an impressive run themselves with five wins in as many matches and a whopping 64 goals scored (the most at this stage in Ligue 1 in a couple of decades). Monaco have also been handed a big boost with the return of talented midfielder Fabinho, who after being labelled a doubt, has made the final squad.
Emery’s task, on the other hand, has been made harder with the injury to Marco Verratti, who will likely be out for a couple of weeks. Verratti has been one of the key factors in PSG’s recent improvement and losing him now (and potentially for the Barcelona match) is a bitter pill to swallow.
Speaking about Verratti’s absence, Emery said:
We want to maintain team spirit, regardless of who is on the pitch. We know that the players all have different qualities. Above all, we want to maintain the rhythm and level of our play. We can’t rely on the same players all the time. We know certain players will get injured during the season. We have to be able to cope with those absences, you never know what can happen. Adrien [Rabiot] could be a solution in that position. We have solutions.
PSG will also be without first-team members Javier Pastore, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Serge Aurier, Giovani Lo Celso, Jean-Kevin Augustin, and Jesé Rodriguez, due to various reasons. On the plus side, new signings Julian Draxler and Gonçalo Guedes made the squad.
Starting XI Prediction
(4-3-3) Trapp; Meunier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Kurzawa; Rabiot, Motta, Matuidi; Lucas, Cavani, Di Maria.
The major decision Emery must make is whether to start Angel Di Maria or Julian Draxler. The Argentine was quite impressive against FC Girondins de Bordeaux and there’s a strong chance Emery hands him the edge with Draxler only just recovering from a knock.
Adrien Rabiot looks most likely to start in place of Verratti and a potentially tough Monaco midfield will be a good test to see if he can fill the Italian’s shoes.
PSG 2-2 Monaco
As a Paris Saint-Germain supporter, I’m definitely hoping for a win but Monaco is in such hot form at the moment I think both will cancel each other out. It’s worth noting PSG have only managed one win against the principality side in the league since they regained promotion, so this promises to be one tough battle.