PSG in cri­sis as Nice look down on Ligue 1

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Paris Saint-Ger­main’s Span­ish coach Unai Emery is in the spot­light as his side close a dif­fi­cult first half of the sea­son at home to Lori­ent today.

Emery al­ways faced a tough task in im­prov­ing on the cap­i­tal side’s achieve­ments in the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons un­der Lau­rent Blanc, but the for­mer Sevilla coach has over­seen a wor­ry­ing re­gres­sion in terms of re­sults.

PSG come into their last game be­fore a short win­ter break in third place in Ligue 1, seven points be­hind sur­prise lead­ers Nice and 12 points worse off than they were at the same stage last sea­son.

Satur­day’s 2-1 de­feat at Guingamp means they have al­ready lost four times this sea­son, more than in the whole of any of the last three cam­paigns.

They have col­lected just one point from the last nine avail­able in the league and their only win in five games so far in De­cem­ber came at home to Lille in the League Cup last week.

An­other de­feat at home to Lori­ent, who are bot­tom but are im­prov­ing un­der new coach Bernard Ca­soni, could leave Emery, so suc­cess­ful at Sevilla, in an un­ten­able po­si­tion. “For me it is not a cri­sis. Great teams also go through dif­fi­cult mo­ments,” PSG’s Brazil­ian de­fender Mar­quin­hos told Canal Plus. “We have a squad of su­perb qual­ity and a coach who has al­ready proven him­self. We just need to come through this bad mo­ment to­gether and we will get our con­fi­dence back.

“I am sure that things will go bet­ter af­ter the win­ter break.” PSG, who will not play in Ligue 1 again un­til a trip to Rennes on Jan­uary 14, are with­out Adrien Rabiot and have doubts sur­round­ing both Hatem Ben Arfa and Javier Pa­s­tore.

The wor­ries at the Parc des Princes are in stark con­trast to the eu­pho­ria down on the Cote d’Azur, with Nice cap­ping a stun­ning few months by se­cur­ing the sym­bolic ti­tle of au­tumn cham­pi­ons at the week­end.

LYON, MAR­SEILLE ON FORM

A 2-1 win at home to Di­jon, se­cured thanks to a Mario Balotelli brace, cou­pled with a 3-1 de­feat for lo­cal ri­vals Monaco against Lyon en­sured that Lu­cien Favre’s side will top the ta­ble at the end of the year. That is re­gard­less of how they do today at Bordeaux, where they lost in the League Cup last mid­week.

“Seven points above them (PSG), we are safe now,” joked Favre af­ter Sun­day’s game, which left Nice still with only one de­feat in the league so far this sea­son.

Monaco trail the lead­ers by four points in sec­ond place and Europe’s lead­ing scor­ers will hope to bounce back from their Lyon loss when they en­ter­tain Caen.

They will how­ever come into their fi­nal game of the year with­out Ben­jamin Mendy af­ter he was sent off for a petu­lant kick at Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso in Sun­day’s de­feat at the Stade Louis II.

“Ben­jamin made a mis­take. I have spo­ken with him. You need to keep a cool head to play at the top level. We will sanc­tion him but we will also help him work on the men­tal side of his game,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim of the ram­pag­ing full-back.

“We will try to sign off for our hol­i­days with a vic­tory against a team who will play on the break.” Lyon have boosted their chances of an­other top-three fin­ish by win­ning six of their last seven games, and Bruno Ge­n­e­sio’s men will look to keep that run go­ing when they en­ter­tain Angers. Mar­seille, who have climbed to sixth with three straight wins, are at Bas­tia. — AFP

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