A resurgent Saint-Etienne travel to leaders Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1’s marquee fixture this weekend, a meeting between past and present forces in French football
Despite their last title coming over 30 years ago 10-time French champions Saint-Etienne remain one of the country’s most decorated clubs, while nouveau riche PSG have aspirations of becoming a superpower for years to come.
The two sides, who coincidentally will also meet in the quarterfinals of the French League Cup, enter Saturday’s encounter in good form with PSG yet to taste defeat on the domestic front this season and Saint-Etienne on a seven-match unbeaten run of their own in all competitions.
Midfielder Fabien Lemoine, who played a prominent part in Les Verts’ League Cup win over Sochaux on Tuesday, said the onus is on Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded PSG.
“Paris are heavily favoured (to win). A draw, that would be a small achievement. So, if we win, it will be a real feat. We know that it is going to be difficult but, I repeat, we have nothing to lose,” Lemoine told French regional daily Le Progres.
Saint-Etienne could be without leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the Gabonese striker sustained a knock to his thigh in last weekend’s win over Rennes, but a refreshed Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return for the Parisians after being rested against Marseille in midweek.
Elie Baup’s side, meanwhile, are looking to right the ship when they visit Ajaccio on Sunday as two defeats in their last three league outings have seen Marseille drop from the top of the standings to third.
Lyon, who were ousted from the League Cup by Nice on Wednesday, will be aiming to bounce back against newly-promoted Bastia, while defending champions Montpellier are seeking to string together consecutive wins for the first time this season at lowly Troyes on Saturday.
Second-place Toulouse – unbeaten in five Ligue 1 matches since a 2-0 reverse at PSG – travel to Bordeaux on Sunday, while Nice welcome bottom club Nancy to the Mediterranean coast on Saturday.
Ligue 1 top scorers Valenciennes entertain Sochaux and Rennes are in action against Reims on Saturday, while Brest host Lorient in Friday’s evening fixture.
Paris Saint-Germain v Saint-Etienne
Nice v Nancy
Valenciennes v Sochaux
Evian v Lille
Rennes v Reims
Troyes v Montpellier
Ajaccio v Marseille
Lyon v Bastia
Bordeaux v Toulouse