Facing third-tier side Les Herbiers in Tuesday’s French Cup final will not only give Paris St Germain a chance to further establish their domestic domination but it will also offer departing coach Unai Emery the opportunity to make a triumphant exit.
Emery, whose contract expires at the end of the season, would like nothing better than achieving the domestic treble, with PSG having already won the Ligue 1 and League Cup titles.
The Basque, who led Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles before joining PSG in 2016, urged his players not to be complacent against a team who will have nothing to lose at the Stade de France.
“We prepared this game like every other game. We analysed our opponents, some serious training,” Emery, who hopes his team will clinch a record-extending 12th French Cup title, told a news conference on Monday.
“The players are very professional and they know it’s not a game like any other, it’s a final. All the players are very motivated.”
Emery will have to do without the services of an injured Neymar and Marco Verratti, whose domestic season is over, in the final.
Les Herbiers coach Stephane Masala, who plans to use his tactical skills to cause an upset [nL:L8N1SC07M], is however more focused on what this game means for French football than on the result.
“In this final we are going to see football with a big F. Talent, and players who are among the best in the world with PSG, and amateurs with a lot of courage and solidarity on the other side of the pitch,” Masala said after studying the inner sanctum of the Stade de France.
“The first thing I thought when I entered the dressing room was that it was too big. It lacked a bit of intimacy with the players. I thought ‘it’s not possible, where am I gonna stand?’.”
Motivation might be Les Herbiers’s best weapon as they face a team with a 540-million euro budget – compared to their more modest two million euros.
“I was always very motivated to play against the big teams when I was in Brazil,” said PSG centre back and captain Thiago Silva.