Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Saint-Etienne

Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Saint-Etienne

Paris Saint-Germain will look to immediately bounce back from their shock defeat to Nantes when they host Saint-Etienne in Saturday’s Ligue 1 encounter.

While Mauricio Pochettino’s side went down 3-1 to Les Canaris last week, their visitors managed to hold high-flying Strasbourg to a 2-2 draw.

Very few have been able to stand in the way of the PSG juggernaut this season as Les Parisiens seek to reclaim their rightful top-flight title off Lille, but Nantes had other ideas when the capital side travelled to the Stade de la Beaujoire.

Randal Kolo Muani, Ludovic Blas and Quentin Merlin all breached PSG’s defence in the opening half to send shockwaves across the French footballing landscape, and while Neymar pulled one back just after the restart, PSG could not launch a comeback after the Brazilian’s dreadful attempt at a stop-start penalty failed to come off.

Defeat to Les Canaris ended a four-game winning run and 15-game unbeaten streak for PSG in Ligue 1, but it may not matter too much in the grand scheme of things, as Pochettino’s side still boast a healthy 13-point lead over Marseille at the top of the rankings.

Failure to clinch the Ligue 1 crown now is simply unfathomable for PSG and Pochettino, who is rumoured to be contemplating an exit amid links with the Manchester United job, and a first-ever top-flight title on his CV would be an ideal way to bow out.

Despite a couple of blips on the road, PSG continue to dominate domestically on home soil, winning 14 of their last 15 Ligue 1 fixtures at the Parc des Princes and keeping clean sheets in each of their last five, but Saint-Etienne are enjoying quite the resurgence.

Whatever new regimes Pascal Dupraz has introduced to the Saint-Etienne squad are starting to work a treat, as Les Verts have shot out of the relegation zone and managed to hold Champions League-chasing Strasbourg to a 2-2 draw in gameweek 25.

A frantic first half saw Ryad Boudebouz put Saint-Etienne ahead before Habib Diallo and Lucas Perrin responded in quick succession for Strasbourg, but the hosts’ talisman Wahbi Khazri struck his ninth goal of the season not long after to ensure a share of the spoils.

A dampening Coupe de France exit to Bergerac did dampen the spirits somewhat, but Les Verts have taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer in Ligue 1 and now occupy 16th spot in the rankings, although they only boast a one-point lead over the four sides below them.

Saint-Etienne’s relegation rivals will therefore be aware of this golden opportunity to drop Dupraz’s side below the dotted line again, but this week’s visitors to Paris have won their last two away from home and ought to have nothing to fear at the Parc des Princes amid their hot streak.

PSG eased to a 3-1 win on Saint-Etienne’s turf earlier this season, though, which marked their 24th game unbeaten against Les Verts in all competitions since a penalty shootout defeat in the 2012-13 Coupe de la Ligue, and the visitors cannot afford even a momentary lapse in concentration if they are to avoid making that 25 on Saturday.

Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
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Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
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Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
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Saint-Etienne form (all competitions):
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We say: Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 Saint-Etienne
PSG’s shock defeat at the home of Nantes is surely nothing more than a blip, and at the fortress that is the Parc des Princes, an improving Saint-Etienne need nothing short of a miracle.

Discontent towards Pochettino will certainly grow without all three points here, and Verratti’s suspension is less than ideal, but the league leaders should stroll to victory nonetheless.

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