PSG look to bounce back from cup disappointment at Guingamp

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

AllsportLaurent Blanc's side will be looking to bounce back from their cup disappointment in Ligue 1.

Paris Saint-Germain travel to Brittany to take on EA Guingamp this weekend hoping to bounce back from Wednesday’s surprise Coupe de France defeat to Montpellier HSC. Laurent Blanc’s men will arrive in Northwestern France five points clear at the top of Ligue 1, while their opponents are currently 14th in the table and without a league win since November.

The champions have won their past five in Le Championnat, but squad rotation and fighting on four fronts had started to take its toll.

• Johnson: PSG exit Coupe de France

One of those four trophies is now gone for the season, so with fewer competitions to focus on, PSG will be confident of provisionally extending their lead over AS Monaco to eight points. Les Monegasques host Olympique de Marseille on Sunday night, and, following the disappointing news regarding Radamel Falcao’s lengthy injury layoff, the capital club will be hoping that Monaco slip up again. Guingamp will be no pushovers, though; PSG might have won a close-fought encounter 2-0 back in August, but nobody should forget that it took two injury-time goals to seal that victory.

Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men have seen their form improve, and then decline, since then, rising as high as fifth in the table. But the Breton side are starting to struggle with the rigours of top-flight football after a 10-year absence. Considering the fatigue shown by the league leaders in their past few matches, a gruelling 90 minutes against a side excited to welcome the French champions to town is perhaps not what Blanc and his players would have chosen.

That fatigue is down, in part, to the lack of depth that Le President has been speaking about for months. But only over the past few weeks has that deficiency been thoroughly emphasised. In defence, the team is short thanks to Christophe Jallet’s absence after surgery, while midfield now looks particularly short of options too following the knee injury sustained by teenage midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

These problems, albeit concerning squad players and not genuine members of the starting XI, have caused Blanc a few headaches.

Therefore, his penchant for rotation might need to go without indulgence on Saturday at the Stade du Roudourou. With a rare midweek break coming, games against Girondins de Bordeaux, FC Nantes in the Coupe de la Ligue and a trip to face title rivals Monaco follow. PSG will already be without Jallet and Rabiot with their respective injuries against Guingamp, but Ezequiel Lavezzi also misses out once again with an adductor problem.

The Argentine’s absence will once again hand a chance to Lucas Moura, Jeremy Menez or Javier Pastore.

El Flaco performed well once again in the midweek defeat against Montpellier -- following up an impressive showing at Bordeaux in the Coupe de la Ligue -- while Moura also looked lively. Both could replace Lavezzi, but Menez’s involvement is less likely. The French international was booed once again by sections of the Parc des Princes crowd on Wednesday, and the latest reports suggest that PSG want a shot of the mercurial attacking talent before the end of his current contract this summer.

Considering Moura’s better overall performances this season in comparison to Lavezzi, Pastore and Menez, it would be fair if he were given a deserved start. It is just a shame that it takes an injury to El Pocho for the Brazilian star to get the game time he craves ahead of the World Cup.

If started on Saturday, it is a chance that Moura must take with both hands if he wants to break back into the starting XI this season.

Captain Thiago Silva was another injury doubt ahead of the clash, but the Brazilian has been ruled fit enough to travel and could spare Blanc another personnel headache. Should he not make the starting XI, though, Marquinhos will come in to partner Alex after the latter was rested against Montpellier.

Guingamp have proved tough to beat at home this season, having suffered defeat only three times at the Stade du Roudourou. But PSG have fared well on their travels to the north and northwest of France this campaign, winning all four of their games played there across all competitions.

Although Blanc will be tempted to rotate his side, he needs to resist that temptation, as there will be few opportunities to put this much pressure on Monaco ahead of their eagerly awaited showdown in the principality in two weeks’ time. Beat Guingamp on Saturday, and the players can enjoy some deserved rest before gearing up for a pivotal run of games in a season that still promises plenty of success despite their midweek cup exit.

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