Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is not underestimating Saint-Etienne, but believes Christophe Galtier’s side will struggle at the Parc des Princes providing the Ligue 1 champions play with intensity on Sunday.
Laurent Blanc’s men are yet to lose this season and already hold a five-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table after 10 games.
Their commanding position at the summit of the league is illustrative of the gap that has opened up between PSG and the rest of French football in recent years.
Indeed, promoted Angers and Normandy club Caen are the closest challengers to PSG, with that duo level on 21 points, while Saint-Etienne are two points further back and the nearest of the traditional powers to the league leaders.
Lyon, Monaco and Marseille are all well off the pace, but Saint-Etienne can move within four points of PSG by handing the capital club their first defeat of the season.
PSG have won the last six meetings between the two and, although Blanc’s men are going into the game having faced Real Madrid in the Champions League four days earlier, Verratti is in confident mood.
The Italy international told PSG TV: “All matches are difficult. We know Saint-Etienne well because we have played them often.
“We know how we can put them in difficulty. We will therefore try to play our game without worrying too much about the opponent.
“If we play as we know we can do, with a lot of intensity, it will be difficult for Saint-Etienne to take points in the Parc.”
PSG are set to be without centre-back David Luiz because of a knee injury. The former Chelsea defender missed the win over Bastia and the 0-0 draw with Real because of the problem, which he picked up on international duty with Brazil.
Saint-Etienne make the trip to Paris without a number of key players.
Benjamin Corgnet is out with an unspecified injury, while Jeremy Clement (thigh), Kevin Theophile-Catherine (foot) and Renaud Cohade (knee) are also unavailable for the visitors.
Galtier’s side are likely to also be experiencing fatigue having played in the Europa League at Dnipro in Ukraine on Thursday.
But, after Romain Hamouma’s first-half strike gave Saint-Etienne a 1-0 win in eastern Europe, they should at least approach the match in high spirits as the 10-time French champions aim to beat PSG for the first time since November 2012.
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