PSG need Coupe de France win with Chelsea on the horizon
Paris Saint-Germain have the chance to make up for their 2-1 defeat away at Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 last Sunday when the defending champions travel back to the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region to tackle AS Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Laurent Blanc's men were surprisingly brushed aside by OL last weekend and lost their 36-game unbeaten run in Le Championnat as a consequence. With that disappointment fresh in their memories, Les Parisiens need to react at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
Prior to the defeat to Les Gones, Blanc was probably planning to field a heavily rotated side against Les Verts in order to prepare thoroughly for the trip to Chelsea in the return leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week.
However, now that they have lost in Lyon, PSG need to recover with a strong performance. They cannot afford a drastic loss of form at such a key moment in their season.
Like Lyon, the men from the capital have met Christophe Galtier's side across multiple competitions already this campaign. The pair have crossed paths twice in Ligue 1 and once in the Coupe de la Ligue and the French champions have won all three encounters so far.
If PSG are to make it four wins from a possible four, then they will have to do it without a number of regular members of the starting XI. Like against Lyon, Angel Di Maria and Marco Verratti are out injured as Blanc tries to get the pair ready for the trip to London next week. Both were sorely missed at Parc OL last Sunday and their team possessed little creativity without them on the pitch.
On top of Di Maria and Verratti's absences, Blanc is also without Gregory van der Wiel, Nicolas Douchez, Presnel Kimpembe, Serge Aurier and Hervin Ongenda for the trip to Saint-Etienne.
Despite a plethora of absences, the inclusion of Alec Georgen and Christopher Nkunku are two additions to the squad that PSG supporters will be pleased about. Both are highly rated youth academy graduates and the former, a right-back, recently signed on with super agent Mino Raiola.
With Van der Wiel out, it is almost certain that Marquinhos will start at right-back, but Georgen could be given his first taste of competitive senior action towards the end of the game.
Elsewhere in defence, captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz are likely to continue in the middle to rebuild some lost confidence after the Lyon defeat.
After a successful 45-minute second half appearance helped PSG to pull a goal back against Lyon through Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore could be in line to start at Le Chaudron. The Argentina international is still finding his way back to full fitness and needs games if he is to stand a chance of making a meaningful contribution against Chelsea.
El Flaco might be needed in Blanc's centre of midfield to avoid another tedious display from the likes of Thiago Motta, Benjamin Stambouli and Adrien Rabiot. The three simply did not compete against Bruno Genesio's men and all of them were guilty of allowing Les Gones to dominate the ball in the middle of the park and dictate the pace of the game in midfield.
Elsewhere, Salvatore Sirigu should replace Kevin Trapp in goal, while Layvin Kurzawa will most likely replace Maxwell. With no Di Maria, in the squad, Blanc's front three of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura and Edinson Cavani should remain intact.
Saint-Etienne away will not be an easy task for PSG to navigate; especially as the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard supporters will likely smell blood after they watched bitter rivals Lyon take the game to their visitors last weekend.
If the men from the capital want to return to Parc des Princes with a place in the semi-finals, then they will have to show a lot more desire and enterprise than they did in their first Ligue 1 defeat of the season.
Jonathan Johnson is based in Paris and the voice of PSG TV. He also writes for French Football Weekly. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.