PARIS, April 7, 2015 : Paris Saint-Germain face eight games in 23 days as they chase four trophies, beginning with a French Cup semi-final against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.
With the clock ticking down on an epic sweep the Parisians are in high morale after beating bitter rivals Marseille 3-2 at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday to return to the top of Ligue 1.
Paris and St Etienne have won the Cup 14 (eight and six respectively) times between them and with second tier Auxerre hosting mid-table Guingamp, who are the current Cup holders, in the other semi-final on Tuesday, the big guns will feel this is the toughest obstacle to overcome on the way to lifting the cup.
For PSG, the big games are coming thick and fast as they sit a point clear of Lyon at the top of the league.
They also take on Bastia at the Stade de France in the League Cup final next Saturday before welcoming the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final, first-leg next Wednesday.
In that bruising but morale boosting win over Marseille, Paris lost two key players to potentially long-term injuries as David Luiz and Thiago Motta left the pitch with muscle problems.
PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said the injuries were worrying for the upcoming matches, but promised the team would fight to the end.
His coach Laurent Blanc was euphoric with the Marseille win, but his face clouded over the injuries. “We’ll savour the victory, but we paid an expensive price,” he mused.
But Paris can still count on Zlatan Ibrahimovic against St Etienne, although the talismanic Swede goes before a disciplinary commission on Thursday after making scathing comments about the referee and France itself following PSG’s 3-2 top flight defeat at Bordeaux on March 15.
AS he is also banned against Barcelona for the first-leg, Blanc will be expecting a fully-committed performance in the Cup from the star striker, who was rumoured this week to have applied for an American work visa.
St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier has asked his players to play without fear after three defeats to the Parisians so far this season.
“They haven’t lost a single match at home in any competition this season, so we’ll have to play beyond ourselves,” he told the club’s website.
He also revealed they’d be playing a busy, pressing game and that the team had been working on their penalties, as there are no replays in the French Cup.
“We’ll go Paris to play, we’ll be generous on that level, because we don’t want to come away with any regrets,” he said.
In their last outing, fifth placed St Etienne drew 1-1 at fourth placed Monaco, but welcome back two top players in Jeremy Clement and Max-Alain Gradel for the PSG match.
In Tuesday’s game, the holders take on an Auxerre side dreaming of recapturing the glory days.
After many years in the top flight Auxerre were relegated in 2012.
They had won a league and cup double under legendary coach Guy Roux in 1996 while also lifting the cup in 1994, 2003 and 2005.
Fixtures (both 1900 GMT)
Auxerre v Guingamp
Paris Saint-Germain v Saint-Etienne