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AFP
January 11, 2019

PSG in need of new faces as revived Man United loom

Sports

AFP
January 11, 2019

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain were seen as heavy favourites to beat Manchester United when the sides were drawn together in the last 16 of the Champions League less than a month ago, but fans of the French giants may not be so confident right now.

While United fired Jose Mourinho in the wake of that draw and have since enjoyed a resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, PSG have stuttered either side of the French winter break.

Wednesday’s shock 2-1 home defeat against Guingamp in the League Cup quarter-finals does not mean Thomas Tuchel’s team are suddenly in crisis, but it has raised certain doubts. Prior to playing Guingamp, who are bottom of Ligue 1, PSG had won an incredible 44 games on the trot in France’s two domestic cup competitions stretching back five years.

They had won the League Cup five seasons in a row and had not lost a domestic match since Tuchel was appointed in the last close season. However, results have been less impressive in the last two months.

They took the lead on Wednesday through Neymar, but Guingamp came back to win with two late penalties — having earlier missed a spot-kick with the game goalless.“We played with too much confidence throughout and thought nothing bad could happen,” said Tuchel.

The result is a setback for the German, but nothing more — PSG won the domestic treble in three of the last four seasons while flattering to deceive in Europe, and Tuchel’s main objectives are the league and the Champions League.

His side have a month until they face United at Old Trafford in the first leg on February 12.Between now and then, the Qatari-owned club still have at least six games to play, and they appeared a little rusty on Wednesday in part because several key players are only just back from extended winter holidays.

“It was not just a defeat, we have lost an opportunity to win a title,” said Brazilian defender Marquinhos. “We will have to sit down and reflect and see what we can do better.”Tuchel, whose team are a mammoth 13 points clear atop Ligue 1, is in no doubt about one thing. The German is convinced the club needs to move into the transfer market this month to strengthen in midfield, where Marco Verratti is currently the only recognisable top-class performer available.

With their hands tied due to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, PSG did not replace Thiago Motta after his retirement at the end of last season.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Caen v Lille (1800), Lyon v Reims (1945)

Saturday

Amiens v Paris Saint-Germain (1600), Guingamp v Saint-Etienne, Nice v Bordeaux, Nimes v Angers (all 1900)

Sunday

Nantes v Rennes (1400), Dijon v Montpelllier, Toulouse v Strasbourg (both 1600), Marseille v Monaco (2000).

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