Match Time：1/7/2021 04:00 Thursday (GMT+8)
Paris Saint-Germain begin the Mauricio Pochettino era on Thursday when they travel to Saint-Etienne for their first Ligue 1 fixture of 2021. The hosts, meanwhile, have strung together a six-game unbeaten run in the top flight but remain just six points clear of the relegation zone.
Even though Saint-Etienne's win record this season leaves a lot to be desired, Claude Puel's men are not being put to the sword every week anymore.A 2-2 draw with Monaco in their final game of 2020 stretched Les Verts' unbeaten run in Ligue 1 to six games, although five of those ties have ended with the spoils shared - including 0-0 and 2-2 draws with basement teams Dijon and Nimes respectively.A 2-1 triumph at Bordeaux is the outlier in that sequence, and Saint-Etienne's position in the table is still volatile heading into the midway point of the season.Puel's men cannot rise any higher up the table with a win on Wednesday, but defeat will open the door for Reims and Nantes - who face Dijon and Lyon respectively - to try to overtake Saint-Etienne in the congested bottom half.Moreover, Les Verts have played out three draws in succession on home soil and are facing an uphill battle to triumph at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard for the first time since September 12. Not even a 4-0 thrashing of Strasbourg could save Thomas Tuchel's job in the PSG dugout, and the French champions moved quickly to replace the German over the festive period.Pochettino has been out of management since being sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in November 2019, and the Argentine - who made 95 appearances for PSG - is sure to be aware of the mammoth task facing him in this unforgiving role. PSG ended 2020 third in the Ligue 1 table - one point behind title rivals Lyon and Lille - but the 11 wins that the capital outfit have chalked up this term is the most in the league.Pochettino will ultimately be tasked with leading PSG to Champions League glory, but in the short-term, the 48-year-old must endeavour to do what he failed to in five years at Spurs - win a trophy.A fourth-straight Ligue 1 triumph is already under serious threat as the top flight prepares to resume, but a first piece of silverware could be just around the corner as PSG prepare to take on Marseille in next week's Trophee des Champions.For now, though, Pochettino will simply look to endear himself to the PSG faithful with victory against a dogged Saint-Etienne side, whom the French champions have not lost to since November 2012.
Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form: DDDWDD
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form: DWLWDW
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions): WWLWDW
Saint-Etienne will be forced into a midfield reshuffle as Mahdi Camara and Yvan Neyou are both suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.Zaydou Youssouf is all but guaranteed to return to the engine room alongside Lucas Gourna-Douath, while Panagiotis Retsos, Yvann Macon, Gabriel Silva and Wahbi Khazri are all injured.Harold Moukoudi returns from a ban of his own for this one and should demote 18-year-old Saidou Sow to the bench.Meanwhile, Pochettino could be without as many as 10 players for his first match in charge, with Neymar not expected to come back from his ankle injury just yet.Defensive trio Layvin Kurzawa, Alessandro Florenzi and Presnel Kimpembe also remain in the treatment room, while Rafinha has reportedly contracted coronavirus.Juan Bernat is out for the long-term, and there are still question marks over the fitness of Danilo Pereira, Mauro Icardi, Abdou Diallo and Pablo Sarabia, but the latter two have outside chances of returning for this one.
Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup: Moulin; Debuchy, Moukoudi, Kolodziejczak, Trauco; Youssouf, Gourna-Douath; Monnet-Paquet, Aouchiche, Nordin; Bouanga
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup: Navas; Marquinhos, Pembele, Kehrer; Dagba, Gueye, Herrera, Verratti, Bakker; Di Maria, Mbappe
Saint-Etienne VS Paris Saint-Germain
Saint-Etienne 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain