PSG look to take out title frustration, prep for cup final against lowly Caen
PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain will take to the Parc des Princes pitch to face Caen on Saturday as former Ligue 1 champions.
Monaco's 2-0 home win over St-Etienne on Wednesday confirmed Les Monegasques as kings of Le Championnat this season, so PSG's sights will now be set on next week's Coupe de France final against Angers -- this campaign's final piece of potential silverware.
Although disappointed his side were beaten to the title by the men from the principality, capital club coach Unai Emery congratulated Leonardo Jardim and his men on their magnificent achievement but warned that PSG will bounce back.
"Congratulations to Monaco, who were consistent throughout the entire season," the Spaniard told journalists at his pre-match news conference at Camp des Loges on Friday. "They deserve their title. We have a points total fitting of champions but they have done even better.
"This will be a match for the supporters, to reach 89 points and produce the second-best total in PSG history -- we want to remain unbeaten at Parc des Princes and prepare well ahead of the Coupe de France final.
"I am thinking positively in order to improve things. The club have expressed their confidence in me to continue my work. We will learn from what has happened this campaign. Our objective will be to regain our title of champions."
The visit of Caen means little for PSG as there is nothing to be gained from the outing. Three points will have no impact -- other than confirming what would be an academic 89-point total -- and everybody's minds will be on next week's excursion to Stade de France anyway.
Perhaps the best way for Emery to motivate his troops to perform against their relegation-threatened visitors would be to use the game as an audition for the Coupe de France final.
Angers are no mugs but Les Parisiens could certainly have faced tougher opponents and it would be possible to beat Le Scoistes even with a rotated starting XI.
As right-back Serge Aurier told PSG's official club website, the Coupe de France final is important to him and his teammates, so Emery should use that to motivate his men against Caen.
"It is a big event for us," said the Ivory Coast international. "A final is there to be won! Angers will try their best to beat us, which is normal. For our part, we know what we need to do.
"The best way to forget losing the title would be our third Coupe de France in as many years. That would be beautiful! We want to keep winning titles, so everybody will be motivated. We are in the habit of winning finals.
"We will wait until after Caen to prepare but we all know that we need to win against Angers. We will give it everything!"
In order to give it everything against Angers, though, the players need to show commitment against Caen. A strong final home performance to round off a largely disappointing campaign would help to create a sense of optimism ahead of next term.
Emery will be unable to call upon the likes of full-backs Thomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa -- who will both miss the Coupe de France final after season-ending operations -- captain Thiago Silva and midfielder Marco Verratti (both injured) and Grzegorz Krychowiak, as well as Hatem Ben Arfa, for non-fitness-related issues.
Even without Silva, Verratti, Meunier and Kurzawa, Emery has more than enough options to field a starting XI strong enough to beat -- and potentially relegate -- a Caen side they massacred 6-0 away back in September.
If PSG are unable to overpower the men from Calvados, it will not be the end of the world but another let down to add to an already lengthy list of disappointments this season -- one that could be brushed over to a degree with Coupe de France success.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.