Paris - With one eye twitching in the direction of Barcelona
in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain head into their first taste of
2017 French league action with ground to make up.
Saturday's game at a Rennes side with realistic designs on
Europe will, PSG hope, reignite their form after an opening half of the
campaign which saw four defeats and left them five points adrift of Ligue 1
With Monaco also three points above them, PSG have work to
do if they are to rekindle ambitions of a fifth straight championship success
and third straight domestic treble.
And with Nice unlikely to slip up Sunday at home to lowly
Metz, midfielder Adrien Rabiot knows the Paris side cannot afford to get
distracted by the prospect of the visit of Barcelona on Valentine's Day.
"We told ourselves we have a number of targets and we
want to win everything. We've started the second part of the season well,"
Rabiot told France television after a midweek league cup win over Metz.
More domestic dominance on all fronts looks to be a minimum
target for Spanish coach Unai Emery, who managed a hat-trick of Europa League
triumphs with Sevilla before heading to Paris to replace Laurent Blanc.
New attacking impetus has arrived in the shape of German
international star and 2014 world champion Julian Draxler, recruited for 40
million euros ($42 million) from Wolfsburg.
Also read: PSG miss Champions League top spot
While PSG look to fine-tune their handsomely monied but
spluttering motor, Nice and Monaco are showing that the game in the French
south consists of more than Marseille.
With Marseille in sixth place and looking unlikely to capture
a Champions League slot, Riviera neighbours Nice and Monaco -- who play
Marseille this weekend -- are going great guns.
Nice, buoyed by the recent arrival of Chinese, US and Middle
East investment, won all four of their league crowns in the 1950s but have
failed to each such heights since. They finished fourth last term.
They ended their December league programme with a draw
against Bordeaux, rescued despite sendings-off for former Liverpool misfit
Mario Balotelli and Younes Belhanda.
Balotelli won't feature against Metz because of suspension.
Monaco's task appears more tricky away at Marseille.
Marseille media report that the club is determined to bring
in fresh blood in the transfer window and is keeping an eye on the situation
regarding West Ham's French striker Dimitri Payet, who has told the Londoners
he'd like a move and harbours hopes of a return to the Stade Velodrome.
Another name reputedly in the frame is veteran Ivorian
striker and former OM and Chelsea favourite Didier Drogba.For
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