Paris Saint-Germain will be without Neymar as they look to end their worst week of the season with a win at home to managerless strugglers Lille in Ligue 1 Saturday. The world’s most expensive player is suspended for the game at the Parc des Princes, where anything other than a victory is unthinkable for the capital club.
They had been unbeaten this season before losing 2-1 at Strasbourg last weekend, and they followed that with a 3-1 reverse away to Bayern Munich. Those results have not had a serious impact on PSG, who are currently nine points clear of Lyon, Monaco and Marseille at the Ligue 1 summit and still won their Champions League group ahead of Bayern.
But it is the first time in three years that PSG have lost back-to-back games and the nature of the performance against Bayern in particular was not to the liking of Qatari president Nasser Al Khelaifi.
“We didn’t perform. I am very disappointed about the result, the quality of our play, especially in the first half,” Al Khelaifi said after Tuesday’s game. “I am optimistic for the future, but we didn’t play as well as we could have done in this match. It is a lesson for everybody.”
Sports daily L’Equipe even suggested on Thursday that PSG could consider sacking coach Unai Emery in the coming weeks, with Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte and Diego Simeone being mentioned as potential successors.
PSG are also without the injured Thiago Motta, and Thiago Silva is likely to miss out as well after coming off hurt against Bayern. He has injuries to his left knee and calf. Lille are hovering just above the relegation zone but have recorded back-to-back wins since suspending Marcelo Bielsa and replacing the enigmatic Argentine with a team of four interim coaches.
Monaco will aim to put their miserable Champions League campaign behind them when they visit Troyes. The principality outfit lost 5-2 at Porto with a much-changed team in midweek, and have won only once in six outings. And the early elimination from Europe means changes could be afoot in January.
“We only have three competitions left and we will need to reduce the squad size. Some players will have to go elsewhere,” admitted coach Leonardo Jardim.
Explaining his side’s recent form, he added: “We can’t compare (Radamel) Falcao, (Djibril) Sidibe, (Kamil) Glik, (Joao) Moutinho, Fabinho who have already made careers with those who have arrived from a different league or a smaller team. Maybe the new players will do better in future.”
Meanwhile, the French league announced that a Johnny Hallyday song will be played before all matches this weekend. Rock star Hallyday, known as the French Elvis, died aged 74 on Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer.
France will pay a “national homage” to Hallyday with a procession down the Champs Elysees in Paris on Saturday. One of the hottest properties in Europe in the summer after starring in Monaco’s title run, Lemar was even the subject of a huge offer from Arsenal right at the end of the transfer window.
But injuries have slowed his progress this season, and the 22-year-old midfielder has not played for Monaco since coming off in the 1-1 Champions League draw at Besiktas on November 1. He is set to return this weekend, however, providing a huge boost to a Monaco side currently toiling. -AFP