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Ligue 1: Messi and Neymar back for PSG title party

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Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. should both be available for Paris Saint-Germain as they look to wrap up the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title with victory over RC Lens at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.

PSG would have claimed their record-equalling 10th French title with their victory over Anger SCO on Wednesday had nearest challengers Olympique de Marseille not twice come from behind to beat FC Nantes.

The capital club did their part, with Kylian Mbappé, Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos firing them to a 3-0 win, with youngster Edouard Michut’s unfortunate late red card the only blot on their copybook.

Whatever Marseille do this weekend, Paris will claim the title if they beat Lens as expected. Neymar and Messi might be pleased that the title celebrations were put on ice – the former missed the Angers game with suspension; the latter an Achilles tendon injury – but their coach Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t share that feeling.

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“Winning the title as soon as possible is the best possible outcome,” he said. “It wasn’t possible against Angers, but we had a good game and took the three points. That’s the most important thing.

“It’s never easy, but I think it’s a good performance from us. I’m very satisfied with my players and these three points. I hope we can do it all together on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.”

While Neymar and Messi could return to join Mbappé in the final third, some will have to enjoy the party from the sidelines. First-team regulars Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe are both struggling with knee injuries and could be replaced by Ramos and Gini Wijnaldum once again.

Mauro Icardi is definitely out with a thigh strain, and he joins a lengthy injury list which also includes Leandro Paredes (groin), Ander Herrera (thigh), Abdou Diallo (groin), Layvin Kurzawa (calf) and Julian Draxler (knee).

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Lens don’t figure to make life easy for PSG, however. Les Sang et Or are in seventh with designs on European football next season. Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Montpellier Hérault SC was their third win on the bounce, and they are now only three points away from fifth-placed AS Monaco.

Franck Haise’s side also held PSG to a 1-1 draw in December’s reverse fixture. Indeed, they were seconds away from taking all three points before Wijnaldum cancelled out Seko Fofana’s opener in injury time.

“Three wins, it’s not that easy,” reflected Haise. “We also did it against difficult opponents. David Costa scored a good goal for us but then we had to be smart. If we’re in the race for Europe, then so much the better. There are five matches left and we’ll play them with plenty of hunger, trying to do even better than last season, especially in terms of points.”

Costa has been playing at No.10 recently in light of Gaël Kakuta’s knee injury, while Facundo Medina’s thigh strain means youngster Christopher Wooh is likely to complete Lens’ back three once again.

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