Ligue 1: PSG seek home lift as Chelsea loom
Casting a long shadow over Paris Saint-Germain`s Ligue 1 date with modest Caen this weekend is the imminent visit to the Parc des Princes of cross-channel giants Chelsea.
Paris: Casting a long shadow over Paris Saint-Germain`s Ligue 1 date with modest Caen this weekend is the imminent visit to the Parc des Princes of cross-channel giants Chelsea.
PSG square up to Jose Mourinho`s runaway Premier League leaders in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday with Laurent Blanc`s side itching for revenge.
Last season Chelsea blocked PSG`s passage to the Champions League semi-finals on away goals.
"Last year was an apprenticeship which must not be repeated," PSG`s Qatari president Nasser Al-Khelaifi assured AFP at the draw in December.
At Thursday`s press conference, it was Chelsea inevitably rather than Caen preoccupying Blanc`s mind.
The PSG boss made fun of how his Chelsea counterpart was regarded as, in his words, "a genius" despite their FA Cup knock-out at the hands of minnows Bradford.
That Cup upset has given Chelsea crucial more time to prepare for Tuesday`s trip to Paris with this weekend`s programme in England devoted solely to the FA Cup fifth round.
"As Mourinho is a genius, Chelsea lost their Cup tie 4-2 and everyone thinks that`s fantastic.
"But if the same thing had happened to PSG (in the Cup), it would have triggered a tsunami, or at the very least some turbulence.
"People would have said that the manager didn`t know a thing."
PSG, who are in the League Cup final and reached the French Cup quarter-finals in midweek, squandered the chance to top the table last weekend when Zlatan Ibrahimovic`s controversial retaken penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw at Lyon.
That left Ligue 1`s defending title-holders in third, level on points with second-placed Marseille and two shy of Lyon.
With Marseille in action on Friday against Reims, and Lyon away to struggling Lorient on Sunday, PSG will be anxious to bag the three points in Saturday`s early game to keep the wheels on their title bid and put them in the perfect frame of mind for Tuesday`s massive European tie.
Encouragingly for Blanc, Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani scored his first goal in five games in the 2-0 Cup win over Nantes on Wednesday.
A win over Reims at the Velodrome on Friday will lift Marseille into the lead, at least until PSG and Lyon turn out over the weekend.
Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa is without suspended Mario Lemina, Nicolas Nkoulou, who picked up a knee injury appearing for Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and midfielder Abdelaziz Barrada.
There is also uncertainty over Andre Ayew, who is taking time to come to terms with Ghana`s defeat on penalties in last Sunday`s African Nations Cup final against the Ivory Coast.
Down at the other end of Ligue 1 a tense encounter is on the cards between two relegation-threatened teams, Lens and Evian. Bottom club Metz host mid-table Guingamp.
Fixtures (1900 GMT unless stated)
Marseille v Reims (1930)
Paris Saint-Germain v Caen (1500)
Lens v Evian, Lille v Nice, Monaco v Montpellier, Nantes v Bastia, Toulouse v Rennes
Bordeaux v Saint-Etienne (1300), Metz v Guingamp (1600), Lorient v Lyon (2000)