"VERY IMPORTANT FOR THE LEAGUE AND FRENCH FOOTBALL"
There could hardly be a more crucial time for Paris Saint-Germain to get the Monaco monkey off their backs.
Since stunningly losing out to Montpellier in 2011-12 - their first season under the ownership of the Qatar Investment Authority - PSG have swept all before them, except for Monaco.
PSG have beaten Monaco just once in the league following Monaco's return to Ligue 1 in 2012.
And the men from the principality are causing Unai Emery's men particular distress this season, Monaco's hugely impressive form helping engineer the most compelling title race since Montpellier triumphed by three points.
It was Nice who surprisingly led the way at the mid-season break, taking advantage of PSG's struggle for fluency and consistency under Unai Emery.
But, with the Cote d'Azur club going off the boil, it is Monaco who now lead the way having pummelled Marseille 4-1 and Lorient 4-0 upon the resumption of the campaign.
They are now two points ahead of Nice and victory at the Parc des Princes on Sunday would be a significant step to deposing a PSG side that has won the last four league titles.
PSG would be six points off the pace with defeat and could end the weekend four adrift of second-placed Nice, who have the chance to pile the pressure on both their title rivals with a home win over Guingamp earlier on Sunday.
Monaco's form and recent history suggests PSG have plenty to fear.
Leonardo Jardim's men won the reverse fixture 3-1 back in August and were 2-0 winners in the capital last term. They have also scored an eye-watering 64 league goals, with a seemingly rejuvenated Radamel Falcao netting 12.
However, since losing 2-1 at Guingamp in December, PSG have conceded just one goal across six games in all competitions, scoring 21 in the process.
PSG have also seen their attacking resources bolstered by the signings of Julian Draxler and Goncalo Guedes, but is their defensive solidity that will be most pivotal to hopes of moving level on points with Monaco.
Following their 4-1 thumping of Bordeaux in the Coupe de France semi-finals - which set up a final with Monaco - Emery spoke of this weekend's contest as "very important for the league and French football".
He is not wrong. This is a league that has seen its reputation decimated in recent times, seen as a plaything for PSG, which they win at a canter every year.
That image has already been altered by the rise of Nice and Monaco, and most neutrals will likely be hoping Monaco can continue their recent hoodoo over PSG to set up a thrilling final four months of the season and increase Ligue 1's credibility.
Yet PSG have shown little regard for the league's credibility over the last four seasons, and that will be last thing on the minds of the always boisterous Parc des Princes crowd come kick-off in south-west Paris.
PSG's MONACO HOODOO
- PSG have only won 20 per cent of their Ligue 1 games against Monaco (16 out of 81), their lowest rate against an opponent (minimum two games).
- PSG have failed to beat Monaco at home in Ligue 1 since a 4-2 win in February 2007 (D5, L2).
- Fabinho has scored two of the last three goals scored by Monaco players against Paris in Ligue 1.
- Two of Monaco's last four goals against Paris in Ligue 1 have come from the penalty spot.
JARDIM's JUGGERNAUT v EXCELLENT EDINSON
- Monaco have only lost once in their last 12 Ligue 1 games (W9, D2).
- Monaco have scored at least 13 goals more than any other team from the top five European leagues this season (64).
- PSG have only lost twice in their last 79 home Ligue 1 games (W62, D15), against Rennes (1-2) in 2013-14 and Monaco (0-2) in 2015-16.
- Edinson Cavani has scored three of PSG's last four goals against Monaco in Ligue 1. He is the first Parisian player to register 20 goals after 21 matchdays since Carlos Bianchi in 1977-78 (20).
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