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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

PSG coach Emery happy to avoid injuries ahead of Champions League tie with Real Madrid

With a last-16 Champions League tie against Real Madrid just a week away, avoiding injuries in a Coupe de France win pleased Unai Emery.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery was happy to avoid injuries ahead of facing Real Madrid in the Champions League as his side cruised through to the Coupe de France quarter-finals with a 4-1 win at Sochaux.
With Neymar rested after celebrating his 26th birthday at the weekend, Angel Di Maria took a starring role with his first PSG hat-trick helping secure a comfortable win for PSG, who are seeking a fourth straight Coupe de France title.
Edinson Cavani was also on target in a win that never felt in doubt despite Florian Martin cancelling out Di Maria's first-minute opener at the Stade Bonal on Tuesday.
After Di Maria wrapped up his first treble since 2010, Emery was able to rest Marco Verratti and Cavani for the closing stages, although Dani Alves had to go in goal for the last few seconds after Kevin Trapp was dismissed for a foul on Thomas Robinet outside his penalty area.
Layvin Kurzawa came through an injury scare after initially appearing to be hurt in a collision with goalkeeper Lawrence Ati that was reminiscent of a similar clash between Kylian Mbappe and Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes last month.
And Emery, who welcomed Thiago Motta back to action after the midfielder missed a month of action with a calf injury, was pleased his squad is intact ahead of next Wednesday's trip to the Spanish capital to play Champions League holders Madrid.
"The goal was to qualify, without injury and to collect information for the future," Emery said.
"We respect the Coupe de France and an opponent who has already won this competition and recently knocked out Ligue 1 clubs.
"Even though Sochaux equalised, I knew it was an offensive team and I respected them, and in the second half they had fewer chances."
Sochaux captain Florian Tardieu suggested pre-match that PSG players attending a birthday party for Neymar in Paris on Sunday demonstrated a lack of respect for his Ligue 2 side, but PSG skipper Thiago Silva denied that was the case.
"We wanted to play technically today, the pitch was not very good, but the quality of our players made the difference," the Brazilian said.
"The statement of the opposing captain that we do not respect the teams is wrong. We respect all teams we play against - that's why we win, that's why tonight we played well."