Palace head to north-east France on Saturday to take on FC Metz in their fourth first-team pre-season friendly of the summer, looking to build on the progress made in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong last week.
Frank de Boer’s side ended their time in the Far East on a high after beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in their final match, and now the squad head across the English Channel to take on Metz, who finished last season in 14th position in Ligue 1 in what was their first season back in the top-flight.
The game will start with a ceremonial kick-off from Michele Padovano, who moved to Metz from Palace in 1998 – one of two players who has played for both sides, with the other being Emmanuel Adebayor.
Metz’s summer so far
This will be the final game of Metz’s pre-season preparations, which has seen them beat Locmine and Belgian sides Tubize and Eupen. They suffered a shock 4-1 defeat to second tier Auxerre but last Saturday saw them claim a 1-1 draw against Standard Liege. A week after taking on the Eagles, they start their league campaign at home to Guingamp.
The summer’s transfer dealings haven’t been kind to The Maroons, who have seen their squad weakened by the defections of highly-rated teenagers Ismaïla Sarr to Rennes for £15 million and Boris Mathis to Everton – the former had reportedly been wanted by Barcelona. Last season’s top scorer Mevlut Erdinc returned to his parent club Hannover after his loan deal expired, while four other players have been released.
However, striker Nolan Roux has been signed from St Etienne, and Gambian under-20 international Mevlut Erdinc has arrived from Senegalese feeder club Generation Foot, as has Ibrahima Niane. Defender Moussa Niakhate has also arrived from Valenciennes for £440,000.
Metz are managed by Philippe Hinschberger, who spent his entire 15-year playing career at the club between 1977 and 1992. He has been in the post since December 2015 when he replaced ex-Charlton Athletic manager Jose Riga and steered Metz to promotion at the end of his first season.
Speaking about his aims for the season, he said: “We need to concede fewer goals since we finished with the worst defence last season and make progress in our home matches. We need to do more of what we did in 2017 and beat teams that are around us in the league and achieve one or two more upsets at home. We want to finish at a better place than the 14th, but maybe 17th will be sufficient.”
New signing Jairo Riedewald could make his first appearance in Palace colours after completing his transfer from Ajax on Monday, adding to De Boer’s options. All of the squad who travelled to Hong Kong should be available for selection if required, with Pape Souare and Connor Wickham the only long-term injuries on the club’s books presently.
In an ill-tempered friendly against Liege last weekend, defender Simon Falette was sent-off for Metz and it remains to be seen if he is available to feature against Palace this weekend. Hinschberger was also sent to the stands but is expected to be in the dugout come the weekend.
Watch out for
Roux made his debut for The Maroons against Standard Liege last week and marked the occasion with a goal as he aims to fill the void left by Turkish international Erdinc. A former French under-21 international, he is a former Lille teammate of Pape Souare and scored 13 Ligue 1 goals for St Etienne last season.
Meanwhile, another name familiar to Palace fans will be Benoit Assou-Ekotto who featured for Tottenham Hotspur between 2006 and 2013, and also had a loan spell at Queens Park Rangers. Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima is Japan’s number one, has 76 caps to his name and played in two World Cups, while Cheick Doukouré is an international teammate of Wilfried Zaha.
Last time we met
The two sides have faced off once before 50 years ago when the Glaziers travelled to the town to participate in a friendly game and ran out 3-1 victors, with Johnny Byrne grabbing two goals.
Tickets, travel and coverage
The club currently have a limited number of tickets remaining, and they are on sale to season ticket holders and paid members from the box office until 5pm on Friday 28th July, subject to availability. There will be no ticket sales on the day of the game at the stadium for Palace supporters.
In addition to a confirmation email, all supporters who book tickets will also receive an e-ticket (sent separately within 24 hours). This must be printed, and then exchanged at the stadium for a match ticket to gain entry.
All Palace fans have to come via the Stadium Street (“Rue du Stade”) along the Mosel Canal. It will be the only way to reach the visiting supporters’ stand - more information.
In addition, fans are advised to arrive at the Stade Saint-Symphorien no sooner than at 1.30 pm (local time), since the access will be closed until this time. The club advise fans not to travel if you haven’t purchased a ticket for the game.
For those not travelling to France, the game will be streamed live on eagles.cpfc.co.uk for all Palace fans worldwide, with the exception of those in France and Norway.
Fans can load the stream from 1pm BST ahead of the 2pm BST kick-off. We expect high volumes of traffic, so advise fans to log-on as soon as possible and click the ‘Live Video Stream’ link in the top navigation.
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