Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Paris Saint-Germain v Rennes: Pastore insists champions remain motivated

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 27 Apr 2016


Javier Pastore says Paris Saint-Germain will not allow their motivation levels to drop in the final few weeks of the season as they welcome Rennes to Parc des Princes on Saturday.

The Ligue 1 champions clinched the Coupe de la Ligue with a 2-1 win over Lille last weekend and take on Marseille in the Coupe de France final on May 21 in a bid to win a remarkable second successive domestic treble.

PSG have put the disappointment of a Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester City firmly behind them in recent weeks, having thrashed Caen 6-0 in Ligue 1 before edging past Lorient in the Coupe de France semi-finals prior to their triumph over Lille.

Indeed, Laurent Blanc allowed his first-team stars some time off in the wake of their latest triumph, with Pastore joining Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti and Salvatore Sirigu in a trip to Las Vegas which led to rugby star Martin Castrogiovanni being disciplined by his club.

But the Argentine insists his side are determined to finish their dominant league campaign on a high – despite having clinched the title in March – in order to sustain momentum before meeting Marseille.

“No matter the competition, the motivation is always the same,” he said. “We showed our ability to stand up to the challenge [against Lille], especially with just ten men. It’s good for the club and the players.

“The Coupe de France will be another very tough game. We have a month to prepare for that game. We want the same outcome.”

PSG have only lost one of their last 37 home league matches but have struggled in recent seasons against Rennes, beating them just twice in the Brittany club’s last eight Ligue 1 visits to the capital.

Rolland Courbis’ side have gone three games without a win, a run that has all but ended their faint hopes of challenging for a top-three finish, but the coach – who does not consider PSG’s break to be any advantage to his players – is demanding at least two wins from their last three matches.

“I have other things to do than judge PSG and their players,” he said.

“Paris, Montpellier, Bastia – the minimum objective is six points. We can’t let go when we have something to gain – that something is sixth place. It’s not simple, but it’s not impossible.”

Kevin Trapp, nominated for Ligue 1’s best goalkeeper prize this week, could return to the PSG starting line-up, while Verratti is also pushing for a first league appearance since February. Thiago Motta (thigh) is out.

Fallou Diagne is banned for Rennes, while Courbis has said winger Kamil Grosicki is a doubt with a muscle problem, though Yoann Gourcuff should be fit after a groin issue.

Key Opta Stats:

– Rennes have only won two of their last nine Ligue 1 games against Paris Saint-Germain (D2, L5).
– PSG have registered 86 points in Ligue 1 this season, only three away from the best tally ever in Ligue 1, set by themselves in 2013-14 (89).
– Rennes have only won two of their last six away league games (D1, L3) after losing none of the previous 10 (W5, D5).
– PSG have already overtaken their best ever number of goals scored in a single Ligue 1 season (89). They have scored 21 goals in their last five league games (4.2 per game).
– The champions have conceded 18 goals after 34 Ligue 1 games, fewer than any other side at this stage of a season in Ligue 1 history.
– Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 32 league goals this season, his best tally for a single league season in his career.



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