Paris Saint-Germain head coach Unai Emery does not believe his players will continue to be haunted by their collapse in Barcelona when they face Monaco in Saturday’s Coupe de la Ligue final.
Ligue 1’s top two face off at the Stade des Lumieres for the first major piece of silverware of the season, with defending champions PSG still three points behind Leonardo Jardim’s entertainers at the top-flight summit.
PSG have managed back-to-back 2-1 wins over Lorient and Lyon to keep up the chase but memories linger of them being on the wrong end of a historic comeback at Camp Nou – Barca scoring three goals in the final seven minutes of breathless action to win 6-1 on the night and overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Emery and his players understandably came under heavy scrutiny as they froze amid the late onslaught and retaining the Coupe de la Ligue for a fourth successive year would go some way in terms of repairing the damage.
“Football goes fast. We need to overcome good and bad times,” Emery told a pre-match news conference.
“This team and I are used to it. We have had some disappointments this season, that’s clear. But if we look at the last games, we are in a good moment.
“We won the Trophee des Champions [last August’s 4-1 win over Lyon] but that is a consequence of last year.
“The Coupe de la Ligue is the first final. The team wants to win everything. They are ready, motivated, the stadium will be full. It’s a good time to experience a challenge against AS Monaco.
“The PSG is accustomed to win titles. Tomorrow is another opportunity to demonstrate that we are in shape, that the team is gathered and motivated to win.”
— PSG English (@PSG_English) March 31, 2017
Emery will be without Marquinhos due to a thigh injury, although fellow defenders Presnel Kimpembe and Thomas Meunier took part in PSG’s final training session in Lyon – offering encouragement following respective adductor and ankle complaints.
“You have to think about the next game,” he said. “Some players are injured but this is not an excuse. Monaco also has injuries.”
Emery was happy to report that star attacking midfielder Angel Di Maria has pulled up well following back-to-back outings with Argentina, including a 2-0 defeat on Tuesday against Bolivia at the punishing altitude of La Paz.
“Di Maria is fine,” the former Sevilla boss added. “He is in a good place.
“He has had bad times but he is getting better. He played both matches with the national team, which is important for him. He is motivated for tomorrow.”
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