PSG must win in Lorient or risk seeing UCL, Ligue 1 hopes disappear in a week
Paris Saint-Germain will be back in action at FC Lorient on Sunday for the first time since their incredible collapse in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second-leg tie with Barcelona on Wednesday. The wounds caused by their 6-1 pasting at Camp Nou in midweek will still be raw when Unai Emery's men return to Ligue 1 duty at Stade du Moustoir this weekend, but the French champions cannot afford to fail to take home all three points.
Once again, AS Monaco have taken their chance to put PSG under pressure by beating Girondins de Bordeaux 2-1 at Stade Louis II on Saturday to move themselves a provisional six points clear of Les Parisiens and five ahead of second-placed OGC Nice.
That means there is no margin for error for the men from the capital. There can be no excuses that the team were still not over their Barcelona hiding, nor can there be complaints over Les Merlus' synthetic pitch.
PSG must simply win in Brittany or face up to the very real possibility of seeing their chances of success in the Champions League and Le Championnat wiped out within a few days of each other, leaving only the domestic cups to fight for.
Speaking at his pre-match news conference on Saturday, Emery stressed the importance of not dwelling on Barcelona and focusing on Lorient instead to truly get over their Catalan humiliation by returning to winning ways.
"Firstly, we must talk about Lorient and think about the match we need to play to claim the three points," the Spanish tactician told journalists at Camp des Loges. "Lorient are bottom of the table but need the three points.
"We have won 14 of our last 17 matches. Against Lorient, we have to show that the team is continuing on the same path as before Wednesday's match. The most important thing now is to get over Wednesday's defeat with a victory at Lorient."
It might sound like a simple task against a home side eight points adrift of safety at the bottom of Ligue 1, but it will be anything but plain sailing in Morbihan come Sunday. Bernard Casoni's men will be fighting for their lives -- as they are in every match -- and the thought of a demoralised PSG combined with their desperate situation and a playing surface that no top-flight side relishes, will fill the Bretons with hope.
On top of that, Emery will be without the suspended Marco Verratti, two more midfielders in injured pair Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi, as well as Lucas Moura (also injured). This means significant rotation will be required within the 45-year-old's 19-man squad.
Perhaps that is not a bad thing. Many peripheral figures will be keen to show what they can do after they were overlooked in Barcelona, while some members of that starting XI might still be too mentally fragile for what will undoubtedly be a rough-and-tumble encounter.
Emery himself has to prove that -- despite talking a good game about being over his Camp Nou nightmare -- he is able to make the necessary changes to guide his team to victory in tricky circumstances and under increased pressure.
If PSG were to lose in Lorient on Sunday -- an unthinkable scenario after the chaos this week -- there is no guaranteeing the Basque would survive the full-on hell that would follow, no matter how much goodwill chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi is currently expressing.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.