PARIS, France, Mar 9 – Paris Saint-Germain and their embattled coach Unai Emery must put aside the pain from their Champions League exit to drag their focus back to domestic affairs with an unglamorous Ligue 1 tie against Metz on Saturday.
PSG’s European ambitions are again in tatters after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid.
To add insult to injury, European football’s governing body UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against PSG for the spate of smoke bombs and a laser deployed by their supporters during the match at the Parc des Princes.
Emery’s expensively-assembled Qatari-backed team host the club propping up the table with a clouds gathering over Neymar’s future.
Having broken a foot bone in a league match against Marseille, the 222-million-euro marquee signing watched Tuesday’s game from Brazil where he is recovering from surgery.
PSG’s Brazilian defender Marquinhos urged his close friend to stay put at the Parc des Princes with rumours rife that Real Madrid are prepared to break the bank to attract the former Barcelona player back to Spain.
“I ask him to stay and let things settle down,” Marquinhos said. “He is an important player for us. We really need him to have confidence in our project, our players and our coaches.”
With his contract up at the end of the season and expected to be shown the door, Emery will at least want to walk away his head held high having delivered PSG’s seventh Ligue 1 title, while his team are also still in both Cup competitions.
A scripted success against modest Metz will hardly lessen the gloom at PSG, but anything other than three points will cast further doubt on the direction of the club since Qatar Sports Investment bought them in 2011.
PSG’s yawning 14-point lead could be cut to 11 if Monaco make the most of their Friday night trip to Strasbourg, one of only two teams to inflict defeat on PSG in the league this season.
The defending champions welcome back captain Radamel Falcao, fit again after a thigh injury sustained at the start of February.
“Falcao will start, but he’s not at his best level yet,” cautioned Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
Falcao himself has his sights set on one goal – to make it to the World Cup this summer with Colombia after serious injury robbed him of taking part in the 2014 edition in Brazil.
“To take part in a World Cup is my dream,” said the 32-year-old.
Ligue 1 fixtures (all 10pm unless stated)
Strasbourg v Monaco (10:45pm)
Paris Saint-Germain v Metz (7pm), Bordeaux v Angers, Dijon v Amiens, Lille v Montpellier, Nantes v Troyes, Rennes v Saint-Etienne
Guingamp v Nice (5pm), Lyon v Caen (7pm), Toulouse v Marseille (11pm)