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 By Ian Holyman

Monaco to play understrength side vs. PSG in Coupe de France semifinal

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim will field an under-strength team in Wednesday's Coupe de France semifinal with Paris Saint-Germain as he focuses on winning Ligue 1 and the Champions League.

With Monaco ahead of PSG at the top of the Ligue 1 table on goal difference with a game in hand, and Juventus awaiting in the semifinals of the Champions League next week, the Coupe de France drops down the list of priorities.

A full-strength Monaco side was beaten 4-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue final by PSG earlier this month, but Jardim told media he will be keeping most of his first-team regulars on the sidelines for the match at the Parc des Princes with a league game against Toulouse on Saturday and Juve to prepare for next Wednesday.

Paris Saint-Germain Paris Saint-Germain
AS MonacoAS Monaco
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"It's a game placed between two very important matches with just two days' recovery between them. We don't have a choice," Jardim, whose side won 2-1 at Lyon only on Sunday, said. "We'll have to rotate the squad and keep the players used most for Saturday against Toulouse.

"The league is the priority competition. After that, there is the Champions League, which is very important for the UEFA coefficient, for France, the image of our players abroad..."

Full-backs Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe would have missed the game anyway, the former with a muscle strain, the latter following an appendix operation, while striker Kylian Mbappe sat out training on Monday to receive treatment from club physios.

Jardim took the opportunity to blend his first-team squad with that of Monaco's reserve team, some of whom will feature in the capital, and he says they will fit in seamlessly as his players prepare for the first of eight matches in 25 days.

Kylian Mbappe is one of the Monaco players set to miss the game against Paris Saint-Germain.

"All the players who started the reserve team's last game will be at training," Jardim said. "We're going to see if they are ready. We work with reserve team players every week. There is a very strong link with the reserve team coach. We use the same working method."

Coupe de France rules state clubs have to have "at least seven players who took part (in the starting lineup or came off the bench as substitutes) in one of the previous two official matches played by their first team," which in Monaco's case is their Champions League quarterfinal second leg with Borussia Dortmund or their Ligue 1 win at Lyon last weekend.

"I find it a shame, but I also understand Jardim's decision," Jean-Pierre Papin, president of the Coupe de France Commission, said. "Every other coach would have done the same thing. Monaco are still in the Champions League and can win Ligue 1. It's sad to say, but the Coupe de France comes after that for ASM."

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet, whose body is celebrating staging the competition for the 100th year, and proposed scrapping France's short winter break, added: "Monaco will respect the rules and their squad has enough quality players to have a competitive team. There will still be a minimum of pros on the pitch. But I can understand Jardim has other priorities.

"We can regret the decision of Jardim, but that's the way the fixture list is. During the last meeting of the League's Administrative Council, I said that between the end of December and the start of January, we watched the English on TV. However, we could also play two or three league matches in that time. I don't see why we wouldn't play at that time of year."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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