Paris Saint-Germain head into Saturday’s Coupe de la Ligue final against Bastia with coach Laurent Blanc angered by a fixture pile-up as the season reaches its business end.
Blanc’s men cruised past Saint-Etienne 4-1 on Wednesday to progress to the Coupe de France final, keeping them on track for success on four fronts.
However, this weekend’s showpiece comes just four days before the first leg of PSG’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final with Barcelona.
The Ligue 1 leaders have also seen the likes of David Luiz (thigh) and Thiago Motta (hamstring) sidelined, while Edinson Cavani (thigh) and Lucas Moura (adductor) are struggling with injuries.
And, with his options dwindling, Blanc has been led to joke about starting his reserve side, who play in the CFA – the fourth tier of French football – at the Stade de France as they bid to retain the trophy.
“It is not impossible that on Saturday I select the CFA [team], ” Blanc said after the win over Saint-Etienne. “I think about it. You’ll see.”
While that prospect is an unlikely one, Blanc’s frustration at the fixture congestion and his side’s apparent fatigue should offer encouragement to a Bastia outfit who have already beaten PSG this season.
The Corsicans, who overcame Monaco on penalties to reach the final, came from 2-0 down in January to claim a 4-2 victory over the capital club thanks in part to a double from Julian Palmieri.
And the versatile full-back is adamant Bastia have what it takes to repeat that performance and atone for the club’s 2-0 loss to PSG in the 1995 final.
“They know we’re capable of beating anyone,” Palmieri told Bastia’s official website.
“I am convinced that we will win this final. This is our final, our moment. We will have teeth that scratch the floor from the 0 to the 95th or the 121st minute.
“I don’t see us losing this match. There are too many that want to do well.”
Despite Palmieri’s bullish claims, the odds will be stacked against Bastia, particularly with PSG’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming into the encounter in stunning form.
Ibrahimovic netted a hat-trick in the triumph against Saint-Etienne, taking has tally for the club to 102.
The Sweden striker has six goals versus Bastia in his PSG career and, as he closes in on Pauleta’s club record of 109 goals, many will look to Ibrahimovic to fire the favourites to more silverware.
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