Coupe de France Semi-Final Preview : Paris Saint-Germain v AS Monaco
On paper this looks to be another highly-anticipated encounter between the division’s top two sides. In reality, to be quite frank, Monaco couldn’t care less about the outcome of the Coupe de France semi-final against PSG.
In his press conference on Monday, Leonardo Jardim was honest in his assessment that his side’s focus was far more on Saturday’s Ligue 1 game against Toulouse than this semi-final, stating “we have no choice but to rotate the squad and rest our most-used players. We will use players who have played little and members of the CFA side”.
Jardim backed up his words with the squad he’s picked, as those left back in Monaco read like a who’s who of European football this season. Jemerson, Kamil Glik, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Joao Moutinho, Thomas Lemar, Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe have all been given Wednesday night off. In fact the only real recognised first-teamers included in the squad are Danijel Subasic, Andrea Raggi, Fabinho, Bernardo Silva and Valere Germain. With so many big names missing and Jardim so vocal in his stance that the league is his priority, the game against PSG represents a chance for some of Monaco’s lesser known players to make a statement. FFW favourite Almamy Toure, Abdou Diallo, Jorge, Kevin N’Doram and Irvin Cardona should all see some game time.
Contrary to Jardim, Unai Emery has gone pretty much full strength with his selection. In fact Layvin Kurzawa and Javier Pastore represent the only recognised first-team players missing from Emery’s squad. The club will be boosted with the news that top scorer Edinson Cavani has signed his contract extension to remain in Paris until 2020. If recent Coupe de France games are anything to go by, the Uruguayan will start from the bench – but with no Hatem Ben Arfa, one of Emery’s go-to cup players, he may be called in from the start.
At the back, Emery seems to have settled on Alphonse Areola in goal behind a centre-back pairing of Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe. Maxwell should start at left back with Emery yet to settle on Serge Aurier or Thomas Meunier as his cup right back. Christopher Nkunku has impressed in the tournament and should maintain a starting role alongside the recently improved Blaise Matuidi. Julian Draxler has been one of Emery’s star players in the cup this season with three goals to his name from earlier rounds.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Emery didn’t hide the fact that PSG were going all out for glory in this competition: “The Coupe de France is very important for us. It’s the 100th edition of the tournament and Paris are tied with Marseille for the number of victories”. Having encountered disappointment in Europe and facing a struggle to retain their league title, success here is an absolute must for Emery.
These sides last met in the Coupe de la Ligue final in early April. Back then it was PSG who ran out easy winners. It’s difficult to see anything other than a similar result here with the winners going on to face Angers in the Stade de France final.
PSG : Areola, Trapp – Aurier, Meunier, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Silva, Maxwell – Matuidi, Rabiot, Nkunku, Motta, Verratti – Di Maria, Draxler, Guedes, Lo Celso, Lucas, Cavani
Monaco : De Sanctis, Subasic, Sy – Diallo, Jorge, Raggi, Toure, Dabila, Mbae – Dirar, Fabinho, N’Doram, Silva, Bongiovanni, Beaulieu, Muyumba, Tirard, Antonucci – Cardona, Germain, Andzouana