Paris Saint-Germain VS Saint-Etienne
Coupe de la Ligue
Venue: Parc des Princes
Date: 18th December 2013
Kick-Off: 19:55 (GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain will be expecting more of a test tomorrow night against Coupe de la Ligue holders Saint-Etienne than they did at the weekend against Stade Rennais.
Les Parisiens absolutely strolled to a comfortable 3-1 win without ever really moving through the gears. They controlled the flow of the game for the vast majority of the 90 despite the homes side pulling a goal back as we led 2-1 in the second-half.
The night was epitomised by Thiago Motta’s opener. The adopted Italian very rarely scores goals – this being his fourth for the club – but this will be his most memorable in a Parisien shirt. He picked the ball up just outside the box before whipping it beautifully into Benoit Costil’s right-hand corner of the net. I have lauded Motta as perhaps our player of the season thus far having overcome his injury woes. The way he won the ball and then oozed past Jean Kana-Biyik before shooting was top class. It was a fabulous goal by the number eight.
Chances were few and far between in the first-half but after the interval Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted from the spot, his 14th goal in Ligue 1 this season. This culminated after a diligent flick by Marco Verratti into the box for an onrushing Blaise Matuidi who was subsequently brought down by Cedric Hountondji. It was a stonewall penalty.
That looked to be that in truth. Rennes showed no impetus of any sort to get a goal but they got a stroke of luck from a Romain Alessandrini freekick. Salvatore Sirigu seemingly dived over the ball as it skidded along the surface to give the home fans something to cheer about. Thankfully, no seeds of doubt were planted in the minds of the away team and they wrapped things up in stoppage time thanks to Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan is just two goals behind his partner in crime – Ibra – in the goal scoring charts and his goal epitomised his class, cutting inside from the left before smashing into the far corner.
That result put us five points clear at the top momentarily before the boys from Monte Carlo notched up a 2-0 win in Guimgamp to cut the deficit by three points. The final fixture of the year is coming up this weekend against title rivals Lille where we can make it three successive years as ‘Winter Champions’ but for now attention turns to the cup.
There is a chance for redemption. We are coming up Christophe Galtier’s team that dumped us out of the competition last year on penalties. The game was a 0-0 stalemate and Les Verts would go on to win the lottery. This time around, we are at the Parc des Princes. Our home form is a thing of beauty. We are 29 games unbeaten in the capital but who can forget Saint-Etienne’s famous win last season where Zlatan found himself sent off? That was a bad night and one which we would not like to experience tomorrow.
Ibra will not be involved as he is suspended so Laurent Blanc – as he likes to do – will tinker with the team. Cavani will lead the line as the man through the middle with Lucas Moura on the right and most probably Jeremy Menez on the opposite side. Adrien Rabiot will come into central midfield and Lucas Digne could be in line for a consecutive start at left-back.
ASSE are the holders and in no way are they going to relinquish their title without a fight. Also we need to bear in mind that they are undefeated in the last four against us so it is going to a battle. Galtier put it beautifully in his pre-match presser yesterday by saying; “We’re not going to Paris to do our Christmas shopping. We must be focused and determined”.