Unai Emery, PSG must rotate wisely vs. Amiens with crowded fixture list ahead
PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain's busy start to 2018 will continue away at Amiens in the Coupe de la Ligue quarterfinals on Wednesday and coach Unai Emery will once again be without Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore.
The Uruguayan and the Argentine are now back in the French capital and training but have been left out of the 18-man squad for the trip to Stade de la Licorne, while nothing is yet known about what sort of sporting or economic punishment the pair will face as a result of their late returns from South America after the recent winter break.
PSG were fine without Cavani and Pastore away at Rennes in the Coupe de France Round of 64 last Sunday, smashing their fellow Ligue 1 side 6-1 with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria each scoring twice in a showing that was scintillating at times.
Les Parisiens' reward for their pulverisation of Sabri Lamouchi's men is another Breton opponent in the Coupe de France -- Guingamp -- only this time at home but they still must travel to Amiens if they want to reach the Coupe de la Ligue semifinals, where they could get another road draw.
With Nantes away to come in Le Championnat on Sunday and a packed remainder of January, regardless of what happens in the Somme department of Hauts-de-France on Wednesday, Emery needs to rotate his players and keep them in the strongest possible condition for all of the upcoming matches over this busy stretch.
That is where Cavani and Pastore do not help the situation, particularly the Uruguay international, because there is limited squad depth in both of their positions.
It may not be an issue now, so soon after the winter break, but it could become a problem towards February and the crucial Champions League round of 16 showdown with Real Madrid -- especially if PSG continue to progress in both domestic cups.
"Edinson and Javier must work (on their fitness)," Emery said at his pre-match news conference on Tuesday. "The most important thing is the squad. We will continue to work with those who are fine."
The Spaniard went on to tell journalists at Camp des Loges that he has "spoken with both of them" but that "what was said will remain between the players and I."
"There are a lot of games, so we need all of the players," added Emery. "The most important thing is how they are performing.
"The squad can cope with the small negatives or positive that are thrown up from time to time."
Emery fielded a strong starting XI in Rennes for the opening game of 2018, which did not include the likes of Marquinhos, Thiago Motta, Julian Draxler, Alphonse Areola and Thomas Meunier, while Layvin Kurzawa is back from illness now as well.
Lucas Moura was not included in the squad to face Rennes and is likely to leave the capital club this month or in the summer but with the likes of Manchester United only interested in loaning him, for now, reincorporating him into the group for matches like this one against Amiens while Cavani and Pastore are unavailable might have been a good idea.
Emery could use an extra attacking figure in order to better rotate the likes of Mbappe and Neymar, if needed, while Lucas' performances could persuade a team like United to make a permanent transfer offer to PSG and not just a loan one.
This will not happen in Amiens but depending on the decision over Cavani and Pastore and how long they will be out of the squad for, it is something worth bearing in mind.
Amiens away should not be too challenging for the Ligue 1 leaders but more injuries like Thiago Motta's away at Rennes last weekend and the increased likelihood of physical problems that comes with such a demanding schedule at this time of the season, makes sensible rotation a must.
The hosts are likely to be rotating anyway and have already made it clear that Ligue 1 survival is more important than a Coupe de la Ligue run this season.
Regardless, a Cavani and Pastore-less PSG should still have more than enough to dispose of Amiens quite comfortably.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.