Messi and PSG face doubtlessly season-defining week
A French Cup journey to bitter rivals Marseille on Wednesday is the beginning of seven days that would outline this season for Paris Saint-Germain, with a Champions League showdown in opposition to Bayern Munich approaching.
The Bundesliga giants go to the French capital for the primary leg of their Champions League last-16 tie subsequent Tuesday, however there shall be no simple build-up to that game for PSG.
Marseille await them within the bear pit of the Velodrome for a French Cup last-16 tie because the Parisians purpose to reclaim a trophy they missed out on final season after profitable it six occasions within the earlier seven years.
Then they go to in-form Monaco on Saturday. A match that might be one of many greatest obstacles remaining to their title bid in Ligue 1. They’re eight factors away from nearest rivals Marseille and Lens on the high of the desk.
PSG have a wonderful Cup file in opposition to Marseille, profitable 10 of the 11 previous encounters between the golf equipment, together with two finals within the final twenty years.
But whereas Marseille could have a hostile crowd of their favour with 65,000 followers behind them on Wednesday, PSG’s home superiority has been questioned in current weeks.
Christophe Galtier’s group received simply certainly one of their first 4 league matches in 2023 earlier than getting the higher of Montpellier and Toulouse in current days.
They wanted a effective Lionel Messi strike to win 2-1 in opposition to the latter on Saturday after shedding Kylian Mbappe to a thigh harm that may preserve him out of the Bayern first leg too.
Mbappe has risen above Messi and Neymar to grow to be comfortably PSG’s most necessary participant. His absence at such a key stage of the season is a hammer blow.
Marco Verratti’s return from suspension will not less than present an enormous increase in midfield, however PSG’s defence has additionally appeared weak of late and a Marseille assault led by Alexis Sanchez might exploit their weaknesses.
– ‘Play for Leo’ –
Neymar is again in coaching after a minor muscle harm however Galtier is in little doubt that, with out Mbappe, the primary man is Messi.
“I ask the group to play for Leo and to do the work for him,” the coach stated.
“We have to free him up from doing sure duties. His teammates are going to should put in twice as a lot effort in terms of profitable the ball again and by way of motion so he can play the type of passes in tight areas which are so uncommon in football nowadays.”
Marseille, who additionally host PSG within the league later this month, had gone 10 games unbeaten earlier than shedding 3-1 at residence to Good on Sunday.
It was a disappointing night time for Igor Tudor’s group, with Vitinha, the Portuguese striker signed from Braga for 32 million euros ($34.3m) earlier than the January switch deadline, substituted at half-time on his debut.
“We’ve got completed some actually good issues because the begin of the season so the actual fact we now have misplaced one game doesn’t imply we shall be wanting confidence on Wednesday, quite the opposite,” insisted Marseille midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.
Elsewhere within the final 16, Laurent Blanc’s Lyon, enduring a troublesome season within the league, tackle Lille, whereas holders Nantes are at Ligue 1’s backside aspect Angers and Lens go to Lorient.
French Cup last-16 ties
Wednesday (1715 GMT except said)
Angers v Nantes, Auxerre v Rodez, Lyon v Lille, Paris FC v Annecy, Toulouse v Reims, Vierzon v Grenoble, Marseille v Paris Saint-Germain (2010)
Lorient v Lens (2000)
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