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Ligue 1

  • March 16, 2014
  • • 20:00
  • • Parc des Princes, Paris
  • Referee: L. Jaffredo
  • • Attendance: 45614

Paris Saint-Germain-Saint-Etienne Preview: Champions League chasers hoping to upset leaders

Paris Saint-Germain-Saint-Etienne Preview: Champions League chasers hoping to upset leaders

Les Verts are just four points off third spot and will be quietly confident of picking up points at the Parc des Princes, where they triumphed 2-1 last season

Saint-Etienne's prospects of a long-awaited return to the Champions League face a stern test when they visit Paris Saint-Germain.

Christophe Galtier's men are fourth in Ligue 1 with 10 games to play, four points adrift of third-place Lille in the battle for the final qualification place in Europe's premier club competition.

Saint-Etienne reached the final of the European Cup in 1976, losing to Bayern Munich 1-0 at Hampden Park, and are one of only four French sides to have played in the tournament decider.

The 10-time French champions have not featured in the continent's premier cup competition since 1981 due to a prolonged fall from grace, but the green shoots of recovery are finally beginning to show through.

Galtier's men now have the chance to return to Europe's top table, but their hopes could be significantly damaged by a PSG side who harbour genuine hopes of winning the Champions League this season.

Laurent Blanc's men are eight points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and progressed to the last eight of the Champions League with a 6-1 aggregate success over German side Bayer Leverkusen, winning the home leg 2-1 in midweek.

PSG appear to have one hand on the Ligue 1 trophy following a dominant domestic campaign, but the capital club have struggled in recent times against Saint-Etienne.

Indeed, PSG are winless in the last three league meetings between the two sides, with the visitors earning a 2-1 triumph at the Parc des Princes last term.

The defending champions were held to a 2-2 draw at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard in the reverse fixture last October, although they did beat Saint-Etienne 2-1 in extra-time in the Coupe de la Ligue in December.

Defeat for PSG could see title rivals Monaco pull within five points at the top of the table and Blanc is all too aware of the threat posed by this weekend's assignment.

"Saint-Etienne is a very good team," the former Bordeaux boss said. "They have not only troubled Paris this season, but a lot of teams. This explains their season and their place in the standings.

"I know the coach [Galtier], he will come with his principles. This is very good. It is positive for players, coaches and the spectators. This is an eagerly-awaited match."

PSG will again be without right-back Gregory van der Wiel due to the knee injury that kept him out of the victory over Leverkusen.

However, midfielder Marco Verratti could return following a knock, while Blaise Matuidi is likely to be included against his former club after being left out of the Champions League encounter to avoid a suspension for the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Saint-Etienne have a number of injury concerns, with top scorer Romain Hamouma (ligament damage) a doubt for the match.

Defender Florentin Pogba is out with a hamstring problem, full-back Francois Clerc has a knee complaint, and midfielder Fabien Lemoine is doubtful due to lack of fitness.

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Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Paris Saint-Germain FC PSG
Paris Saint-Germain FC PSG
AS Saint-Étienne ASS
AS Saint-Étienne Saint-Étienne

Top 3 Predictions

Paris Saint-Germain FC PSG
4 - 0
AS Saint-Étienne ASS
Paris Saint-Germain FC PSG
2 - 0
AS Saint-Étienne ASS
Paris Saint-Germain FC PSG
3 - 0
AS Saint-Étienne ASS