Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish headcoach Unai Emery looks on during the French Ligue 1 football match Guingamp against PSG (Paris Saint Germain) December 17, 2016 at the Roudourou stadium in Guingamp, western of France. / AFP PHOTO / FRED TANNEAU
Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish coach Unai Emery is in the spotlight as his side close a difficult first half of the season at home to Lorient on Wednesday.
Emery always faced a tough task in improving on the capital side’s achievements in the previous three seasons under Laurent Blanc, but the former Sevilla coach has overseen a worrying regression in terms of results.
PSG come into their last game before a short winter break in third place in Ligue 1, seven points behind surprise leaders Nice and 12 points worse off than they were at the same stage last season.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Guingamp means they have already lost four times this season, more than in the whole of any of the last three campaigns.
They have collected just one point from the last nine available in the league and their only win in five games so far in December came at home to Lille in the League Cup last week.
Another defeat at home to Lorient, who are bottom but are improving under new coach Bernard Casoni, could leave Emery, so successful at Sevilla, in an untenable position.
“For me it is not a crisis. Great teams also go through difficult moments,” PSG’s Brazilian defender Marquinhos told Canal Plus.
“We have a squad of superb quality and a coach who has already proven himself. We just need to come through this bad moment together and we will get our confidence back.
“I am sure that things will go better after the winter break.”
PSG, who will not play in Ligue 1 again until a trip to Rennes on January 14, are without Adrien Rabiot and have doubts surrounding both Hatem Ben Arfa and Javier Pastore.
The worries at the Parc des Princes are in stark contrast to the euphoria down on the Cote d’Azur, with Nice capping a stunning few months by securing the symbolic title of autumn champions at the weekend.
– Lyon, Marseille on form –
A 2-1 win at home to Dijon, secured thanks to a Mario Balotelli brace, coupled with a 3-1 defeat for local rivals Monaco against Lyon ensured that Lucien Favre’s side will top the table at the end of the year.
That is regardless of how they do on Wednesday at Bordeaux, where they lost in the League Cup last midweek.
“Seven points above them (PSG), we are safe now,” joked Favre after Sunday’s game, which left Nice still with only one defeat in the league so far this season.
Monaco trail the leaders by four points in second place and Europe’s leading scorers will hope to bounce back from their Lyon loss when they entertain Caen.
They will however come into their final game of the year without Benjamin Mendy after he was sent off for a petulant kick at Lyon’s Corentin Tolisso in Sunday’s defeat at the Stade Louis II.
“Benjamin made a mistake. I have spoken with him. You need to keep a cool head to play at the top level. We will sanction him but we will also help him work on the mental side of his game,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim of the rampaging full-back.
“We will try to sign off for our holidays with a victory against a team who will play on the break.”
Lyon have boosted their chances of another top-three finish by winning six of their last seven games, and Bruno Genesio’s men will look to keep that run going when they entertain Angers.
Marseille, who have climbed to sixth with three straight wins, are at Bastia.
Fixtures on Wednesday (all kick-offs 1950 GMT)
Bastia v Marseille, Bordeaux v Nice, Dijon v Toulouse, Lille v Rennes, Lyon v Angers, Metz v Guingamp, Monaco v Caen, Nantes v Montpellier, Paris Saint-Germain v Lorient, Saint-Etienne v Nancy