PSG have wrapped up Ligue 1 but Unai Emery demands win at Bordeaux
PARIS -- After last Sunday's 7-1 thrashing of Monaco that sealed a seventh Ligue 1 title, Paris Saint-Germain are under no pressure away at Bordeaux on Sunday. However, if they want to break Le Championnat's 100-point barrier -- they need 13 points from a possible 15 -- then only a maximum return will suffice this weekend.
With Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue already taken care of, only the Coupe de France remains in PSG's latest bid for domestic supremacy. Coach Unai Emery is trying to keep his players motivated between now and the clash with semi-professional side Vendee Les Herbiers by staying on the offensive and demanding consistency in return.
"Ligue 1 is our priority," said Emery at his pre-match news conference on Saturday. "It is the main trophy because it is based on consistency over the whole season. Our aim was to win it but you also have to keep going with the same attitude, remain demanding and be consistent.
"We are going to Bordeaux to try and put in a complete performance. It is a great stadium and our opponents play good football: the supporters will see a good game."
Gustavo Poyet's men are 10th in Ligue 1 but only five points behind fifth-placed Rennes, so Les Girondins have plenty to play for. However, Emery's refusal to let his players slack off after the Monaco win and consequent Ligue 1 title confirmation means that Bordeaux are unlikely to get any favours from PSG.
"I have a lot of desire and motivation," said Emery. "I am happy with the players' responses in recent games. We are going to continue with that ambition, not only for the points, but also to do things well, keep up the standard of play and consistency."
Emery will be without Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti and Lassana Diarra for the trip to southwestern France but that gives the former Sevilla boss the chance to use some of PSG's most promising young players. Timothy Weah and Lorenzo Callegari have been included in the squad, while the likes of Christopher Nkunku could feature more heavily than usual, especially after his late goal in Caen in midweek.
Emery admitted that one of his tasks when he was brought in was to oversee the integration of certain youngsters into the senior setup.
"When you coach a club whose ambition it is to win everything, it is a challenge for the coach to give young players time on the pitch," said the 46-year-old from Hondarribia. "That is why I am happy with how they have progressed: Alphonse [Areola], Presnel [Kimpembe], Adrien [Rabiot], Christopher [Nkunku]. Some others have had a few minutes too, like Lorenzo [Callegari], Jonathan [Ikone] last year and Alec [Georgen]. The difficulty now is in keeping the same standard.
One of my goals when I came to Paris was to give young players opportunities. Today, I am happy with the work done. [Nkunku], for example, has improved in every training session. He has the quality to play here in the future. He was wanted by other clubs this winter, but he chose to stay here because it is good for him."
Failure to win in Bordeaux would not be the end of the world for PSG but it would impair Emery's ability to keep his players motivated ahead of Les Herbiers in the Coupe de France final, which is the only true objective remaining this term.
That said, hitting the 100-point mark or better would be a significant achievement and would emphasise the way Emery has got his players to perform domestically despite their continental failures.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.