Paris (AFP) – Winless in 15 matches and coming off the club’s heaviest European home defeat, it could well get worse for Thierry Henry and Monaco this weekend with the visit of runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Monaco’s flickering Champions League knockout hopes fizzled out completely with a “shameful” 4-0 defeat by Club Brugge in midweek, leaving Henry still chasing his first victory as manager since taking over from Leonardo Jardim.
The odds are massively stacked against his injury-depleted side ending that wait on Sunday. Monaco have lost their last seven meetings with PSG — including a 7-1 thrashing in the last league clash in April.
Meanwhile, PSG are off to a record-setting start with 12 successive wins, the best-ever start to any of Europe’s so-called big five leagues — Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.
“We need to try and get back on the right track. I hope we’ll find the solution to stopping Paris,” said Henry, albeit admitting “the worst is possible”.
“We’re trying to do everything to regain a sense of calm but if you don’t win it’s difficult,” he added.
“We lost another player to injury in (Kamil) Glik. That’s not going to help matters as we already had 10 or 11 injured players. I have to be positive, otherwise what can you do?”
Henry received the backing of France boss and former team-mate Didier Deschamps, Monaco’s coach when they reached the 2004 Champions League final, who believes the 41-year-old can excel in management.
“He is starting in a tough and difficult situation,” said Deschamps. “He’s just beginning but he has all the abilities to become a very good coach.”
PSG will look to put a turbulent week off the pitch to one side. The club has come under scrutiny following Football Leaks revelations about their breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations, while a probe is underway into claims that young players were subject to racial profiling by talent scouts.
Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev also made the headlines on Wednesday after the Russian billionaire was charged with influence peddling and bribery in connection with a fraud case involving a Swiss art dealer.
– Anelka lands in Lille –
With PSG a staggering 11 points clear already, Montpellier hope to maintain their surprise push as the best of the rest away to Angers on Saturday.
“We’ve got to maintain the spirit we’ve shown since the start of the season, but in football everything’s fragile and can change quickly. We can’t get carried away,” said coach Michel Der Zakarian.
Lille, who are level on points with Montpellier in third, have brought in Nicolas Anelka as an academy coach to train the club’s apprentice strikers.
“Nicolas is really enthusiastic. He wants to stay out of the spotlight and bring some of his striking expertise and know-how to our young players,” said Lille boss Christophe Galtier, whose side host Strasbourg on Friday.
Fourth-placed Lyon travel to Guingamp, the only club below Monaco at the foot of the table.
Guingamp are set to reappoint Jocelyn Gourvennec, the man who led them to the French Cup title in 2014, on a two-year deal next week after sacking Antoine Kombouare.
Marseille face a partial close of their south stand after fans threw missiles and set off flares during their 2-0 defeat to PSG on October 28. They host Dijon on Sunday.
The sale of Bordeaux to US investment fund GACP was completed on Tuesday. New owner Joe DaGrosa is planning to invest 80 million euros ($91 million) over the next two seasons and said there is “no limit” to their ambitions.
Players will wear shirts bearing the Bleuet de France cornflower — a national symbol of remembrance — this weekend in tribute to the victims of World War I to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the armistice.
Fixtures (all times 1900 GMT unless stated)
Lille v Strasbourg (1945)
Guingamp v Lyon (1600), Angers v Montpellier, Nimes v Nice, Saint-Etienne v Reims, Toulouse v Amiens
Bordeaux v Caen (1400), Marseille v Dijon, Rennes v Nantes (both 1600), Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)