Luis Enrique does not expect PSG-Lyon league game to have a bearing on cup final

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

Paris St Germain head coach Luis Enrique believes his side’s Ligue 1 meeting against Lyon this weekend will have no bearing on next month’s Coupe de France final.

PSG host Lyon at the Parc de Princes in the league on Sunday and the two sides will clash again in the cup final on May 25 in Lille.

Enrique’s believes this meeting will be a good test for his side, fresh from their Champions League quarter-final success in midweek, but does not see it as a dress rehearsal for next month.

He told a press conference: “Tomorrow’s game will be completely different to the final in the Coupe de France based on the importance.

“But as a game that comes above others, given the context, it is a really good test for us to see how we are doing against the best team in Lyon.

“They have put in the best results and they have got to the final, so that shows they are working very hard and it will be a real test for us, but I don’t know if there will be any similarities between tomorrow’s game and the final. Finals are different.”

PSG go into Sunday’s clash 10 points clear of Brest at the top of the Ligue 1 table while Lyon sit in seventh and are aiming to clinch a European spot.

Only six league matches remain for the Parisians, who are on track for a 12th league title, but Enrique is in no rush to wrap up first place so they can focus on the Champions League and the cup.

He said: “There is no urgency of any sort. The aim is the same as always, which is to win the league sooner or later.

“But what matters is being competitive in any match and representing this club in the best way and we want to be competitive whether we win it sooner or later because with the competitions that we are in we need to be competitive in every game, whether we win Ligue 1 in two or three weeks.”

Having already clinched the French Super Cup in January, PSG remain on course for four trophies after their midweek European success.

They completed a 6-4 aggregate success against Barcelona on Tuesday to reach the last four of the Champions League and Enrique praised the impact of all of his players.

“In order to be able to compete for every trophy as I have said, you need a really big squad of at least 23 players,” he added.

“That is what we need here and as the season has progressed we have seen the importance of those players. As for who is important in the last month and a half we have seen the players need to be ready and work hard when we need them.

“I think the team is continuing to progress and I am happy to see the players’ attitude in training.”

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    The cup victory comes amid strong reports that manager Ten Hag will be relieved of his duties in the near future following an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.

    But with Ten Hag potentially going out on a high, Fernandes feels Ten Hag and the club earned their opportunity to walk up the famous Wembley steps to lift the FA Cup.

    "It is crucial for everyone," Fernandes told the BBC. "We know the manager is under so much scrutiny. He deserves this, also everyone in the backroom staff and the players, we all deserve this.

    "It was the last chance to get something positive from the season. We were here last season and we weren't good enough, and we had to see them [City] go up and get the trophy.

    "They have great quality, great players, a great manager. We had to sacrifice and suffer but we did great things. I try my best to help the team."

    In scoring United's second, Mainoo (19 years and 36 days) became the first English teenager to net in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981 (19y 172d) and the youngest to do so since John Sissons for West Ham against Preston North End in 1964 (18y 215d).

    Fernandes hailed the impact of Mainoo, who earlier this week was named in Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man England squad for the upcoming European Championships in Germany.

    "Kobbie Mainoo is really good, such a quality player and you can see the composure he had with the finish," Fernandes continued.

    "He came through the academy and once more on the biggest stage in the world he showed it again.

    "Congratulations to everyone, the staff, the players and all the fans, they have given us a big push. Finally, we have something to celebrate."

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    Mainoo and fellow teenager Alejandro Garnacho were on target at Wembley to deny Pep Guardiola's side the double after they secured their record-breaking fourth successive Premier League title last weekend.

    Although Erik ten Hag's job was reportedly on the line - regardless of the result - United defended brilliantly to largely keep City at bay, despite Jeremy Doku's late strike for the Citizens.

    The Red Devils subsequently held out to end a disappointing season on a high, securing a place in the Europa League next term with their first FA Cup triumph since 2016.

    And Mainoo, who was named in Gareth Southgate's provisional England squad for the forthcoming European Championship, saluted the efforts of United's players and staff.

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    Garnacho also paid tribute to his team-mate, who became the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, while dedicating the victory to United's supporters.

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    "[It is an] incredible feeling. Nobody believed in us, but we are together, here with these fans. An incredible moment for us, also for me and Kobbie to score the goals, but all together, we fought like it was the last day of our lives. We're so happy.

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    United boss Erik ten Hag's job was reportedly on the line whatever the result in Saturday's game, but a mix-up between Josko Gvardiol and Stefan Ortega was capitalised upon by Garnacho to hand the Red Devils the lead at Wembley Stadium.

    Mainoo's fine finish made it 2-0 shortly after, and though Jeremy Doku pulled a goal back late on, United held firm to claim the famous trophy for the first time since 2016 and deny City a double after they secured a fourth straight Premier League title last weekend.

    It now remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will suffer the same fate as compatriot Louis van Gaal, who was sacked as United boss after winning the FA Cup eight years ago.

    Pep Guardiola's men started the brighter, though it was United who went close first as Ortega got his body behind Garnacho's fierce strike.

    Garnacho was not to be denied with 30 minutes on the clock, though, as he pounced on a calamitous mix-up in the City defence.

    A long ball over the top was not dealt with by either Ortega or Gvardiol, who inadvertently nodded it beyond his goalkeeper, allowing Garnacho to tuck home into an empty net, becoming the first teenager to score an FA Cup final goal since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.

    And another teenager in Mainoo made it 2-0 before the break at the culmination a brilliantly incisive move.

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    Erling Haaland nearly halved the deficit when he rattled the crossbar after the interval, before Andre Onana made a superb stop to keep out Kyle Walker's ferocious long-range drive.

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    Yet United ensured Onana's mistake did not prove costly, as City's hopes of a double were dashed and the Red Devils claimed a stunning victory in what could have been Ten Hag's final game at the helm.

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    Mainoo's goal also made him the first English teenager to net in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, and he looks set to be a big fixture for both United and England for many years to come.

    De Bruyne's dismal derby day

    Kevin De Bruyne finished the Premier League season with 10 assists and four goals in just 18 appearances, but he, alongside many of City's stars, looked well off the pace here.

    De Bruyne completed an uncharacteristically low 71 per cent of his passes before Guardiola had seen enough, hauling off the Belgium international for Julian Alvarez with over half an hour left.

    City ended their league campaign with nine straight wins to seal the title, but they looked a shadow of that side this time out and will finish the season with just one trophy, after claiming a treble last term.

    Doku did make an impact after his half-time introduction, but though he managed to cut into United's lead, it was too little, too late.

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