French Ligue 1, Leagues, Paris Saint-Germain, St Etienne, Story


Unai Emery is preparing his Paris St Germain squad for a major early test of their title aspirations against St Etienne on Friday.

Both teams, along with reigning Ligue 1 champions Monaco, have taken maximum points from their first three games of the new season

And Emery, speaking to L’Equipe, said of his side’s opponents: “They are a team who are in the process of forming their identity but after three games, they have nine points.

“That is why it is a first big test for us and I hope the supporters will see a good match.”

St Etienne captain Loic Perrin insists his side are not having nightmares about the trip to the Parc des Princes and said: “On the contrary, we go to Paris with nothing to lose.

“When you see this Paris team it’s another world, but you have to believe and anything is possible.”

World record signing Neymar is the most prominent of PSG’s attacking weapons but Perrin said there is “no special plan” to counter the £200million Brazil forward.

He added: “Neymar is an exceptional player, one of the three best in the world, and it’s exciting to test yourself against such a player.

“It will not be an easy evening but it is great to see players like this in Ligue 1.”

The latter thought was echoed by France coach Didier Deschamps, who was asked about PSG’s marquee signing during the press conference at which he announced his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and said: “He is an immense star and Ligue 1 is greater for his arrival.”

The capital club’s attack certainly is – Neymar scored twice in a 6-2 win over Toulouse which sees them ahead of ASSE and Monaco on goal difference – but the goals they conceded in that game are part of a potentially worrying trend for Emery at the other end of the field.

He said: “There are two goals on the pitch, one for the attack and one for the defence. We have a lot of players – and Neymar has very much added to that – who can attack the opposition’s goal.

“After that, the team must play together to be efficient defensively.”

PSG have Marco Verratti suspended, while Lucas Moura – linked with Monaco as a possible makeweight in any deal for Kylian Mbappe – is sidelined by an ankle injury.

Les Verts will be without forwards Kevin Monnet-Paquet (knee) and Alexander Soderlund (foot) but could welcome Vincent Pajot back from a hamstring injury – the midfielder will be a matchday decision.

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