Montpellier - Paris Saint-Germain Preview: Ancelotti's men look to exact title revenge on hosts
Rene Girard's side welcome the team that they thrillingly beat to the Ligue 1 title last season, as they look to reinvigorate the faltering defence of their crown
By Mohammed Ali
Bocaly, Congre, Hilton, Bedimo
Cabella, Belhanda, Mounier
Van der Wiel, Alex, T. Silva, Maxwell
Verratti, Motta, Matuidi
Montpellier continue to be without captain and key defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who is serving the last of his five-match ban against Paris Saint-Germain at Stade de la Mosson. Karim Ait Fana is also sidelined after suffering a serious knee injury, which will see him out for six months.
Souleymane Camara should spearhead the attack, with John Utaka or Anthony Mounier fighting it out for a starting berth on the flanks. Marco Estrada's off-field problems could see him be replaced by Benjamin Stambouli or Joris Marveaux, as has been the case lately.
Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti is without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was sent off last weekend for a shocking tackle on goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier. The 31-year-old was given a two-match ban for his antics and has already departed for Sweden to prepare for next week's international friendly against England.
Either Guillaume Hoarau or Ezequiel Lavezzi could replace the Swede, with Ancelotti likely to prefer the No.9, who shrugged off a lack of first-team action recently to score twice last week, though Lavezzi did start in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb.
Thiago Motta has returned to training after almost two months out and is available for Sunday's match, as Christophe Jallet is to make way for Gregory van der Wiel after suffering discomfort in Friday training.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Montpellier's defence of the Ligue 1 title sees them currently in 14th place, having won only three league games out of a possible 11 so far.
- La Paillade lost this fixture 3-0 last season, but recovered to draw 2-2 at the Parc des Princes.
- Rene Girard's men have dropped 10 points from winning positions this season so far - more than any other side.
- Nevertheless, Souleymane Camara has scored in all but one of his side's home league games this season.
- Paris Saint-Germain will seek revenge for their 2011-12 title defeat when they meet Montpellier - a win will see them stay top.
- Carlo Ancelotti's side are unbeaten away from home in Ligue 1 - having suffered a home defeat to Saint-Etienne last weekend.
- The capital side have scored in each of their last 10 games against the champions.
- PSG have managed to keep seven clean sheets in 11 league games. Montpellier are still searching for their first at home.
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Top 3 Predictions
Montpellier Herault SC 1-2 Paris St. Germain (PSG)
- 15.87 %
Montpellier Herault SC 1-3 Paris St. Germain (PSG)
- 14.9 %
Montpellier Herault SC 0-2 Paris St. Germain (PSG)
- 9.38 %
|France - Coupe de France (FRAC)||22 Jan 2014||Paris St. Germain (PSG) 1 - Montpellier Herault SC 2|
|Ligue 1 (Lig1)||9 Aug 2013||Montpellier Herault SC 1 - Paris St. Germain (PSG) 1|
|Ligue 1 (Lig1)||29 Mar 2013||Paris St. Germain (PSG) 1 - Montpellier Herault SC 0|
|Ligue 1 (Lig1)||11 Nov 2012||Montpellier Herault SC 1 - Paris St. Germain (PSG) 1|
|Ligue 1 (Lig1)||19 Feb 2012||Paris St. Germain (PSG) 2 - Montpellier Herault SC 2|
|Montpellier Herault SC|
|9 Mar 2014||Lille OSC 2 - Montpellier Herault SC 0||Lig1|
|2 Mar 2014||Olympique Lyonnais 0 - Montpellier Herault SC 0||Lig1|
|22 Feb 2014||Montpellier Herault SC 2 - AC Ajaccio 0||Lig1|
|15 Feb 2014||Rennes 2 - Montpellier Herault SC 2||Lig1|
|11 Feb 2014||Cannes 1 - Montpellier Herault SC 0||FRAC|
|Paris St. Germain (PSG)|
|8 Mar 2014||SC Bastia 0 - Paris St. Germain (PSG) 3||Lig1|
|2 Mar 2014||Paris St. Germain (PSG) 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0||Lig1|
|23 Feb 2014||Toulouse FC 2 - Paris St. Germain (PSG) 4||Lig1|
|18 Feb 2014||Bayer Leverkusen 0 - Paris St. Germain (PSG) 4||UCL|
|14 Feb 2014||Paris St. Germain (PSG) 3 - Valenciennes FC 0||Lig1|
|21||Abdelhamid El Kaoutari||Defender|
|23||Gregory van der Wiel||Defender|
The young midfielder has come on leaps and bounds in the last year, and is now regarded as a definite member of Rene Girard's first team. The France U21 winger has also proved in the Champions League just how skilful and pacy he is, with his ability proving perhaps just a little too much for defenders. Has a job on his hands on Sunday against the likes of Alex and Thiago Silva.
The 20-year-old has started his season in France better than anyone could've imagined, with PSG looking a lot more creative thanks to his brilliant passing and movement. Verratti will be pinpointed as the source of all the attacking forays Sunday's visitors manage, and will need to be wary of the physical nature of Montpellier's midfielders. A superb talent, who is expected to shine in this big clash.
We'll finally get to see just how dependent PSG are on Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The champions may be out of form, but they proved last year, that in the big matches, they have what it takes. Ancelotti's men have a point to prove, but this one has draw all over it.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed