29 August 2014 21:30
Paris Saint-Germain face their toughest test of the new campaign against Saint-Etienne with a host of key players set to miss out.
The Ligue 1 champions have made an unconvincing start to the season having taken five points from their first three league games, with a home win over Bastia sandwiched by draws with Reims and Evian.
Yet perhaps more disappointing than the performances on the field have been the injuries suffered in the opening throes of the campaign by PSG, who will once again be without captain and central defensive mainstay Thiago Silva on Sunday.
Silva has been sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury and the Brazil defender is not the only pivotal figure that Laurent Blanc’s men could be without at the Parc des Princes.
Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic has returned to training but is a doubt after picking up a rib injury against Bastia.
It remains to be seen whether midfielder Thiago Motta will be fit to play after reportedly being headbutted in the tunnel by Brandao following the win over the Corsicans, an incident that saw the Italian suffer a broken nose.
Furthermore full-back Gregory van der Wiel has a back problem and midfielder Yohan Cabaye is suspended after being sent off in the stalemate with Evian.
The hosts’ injury problems are poorly timed given that they are facing a Saint-Etienne side who have made a superb start to the campaign, enjoying a morale-boosting success in Europe in midweek.
Christophe Galtier’s men, who prior to a 2-0 defeat in March were unbeaten in three league matches against PSG, have taken seven points from their first three outings and sit second in the French top flight behind early pacesetters Bordeaux.
And there was more for fans of the 10-time French champions to celebrate on Thursday as they sealed a place in the UEFA Europa League, overcoming Turkish side Karabukspor on penalties at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard after levelling the tie at 1-1 in the return leg.
That triumph should give Saint-Etienne plenty of momentum as they seek to continue their impressive early form, and the visitors have the advantage of heading to the capital with minimal injury worries.
Indeed, Saint-Etienne have just two absentees, with defenders Paul Baysse and Francois Clerc both set to remain on the sidelines after missing their side’s dramatic European triumph due to ankle problems.