03.01.2014 02:20 h

Football: PSG, Monaco begin Cup quest with awkward away ties

Barely 72 hours after facing Real Madrid in a glamour friendly in Qatar, Paris Saint-Germain return to domestic action on Sunday with a trip to Ligue 2 side Brest in the last 64 of the French Cup.

Laurent Blanc's PSG side are top of Ligue 1 halfway through the season and on course to retain the title, but they are bidding for success on all fronts and so will send out a strong team for the encounter in Brittany against a Brest side struggling in the second tier since their relegation last season.

PSG concluded their winter training camp with a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in Doha on Thursday, but Blanc declared himself satisfied with his team's showing against the Spanish giants as they prepare for the second half of the campaign and their entry into the national knockout competition.

"We were as good as them, if not better, in many areas. The work we have done here has been very hard but very good," said Blanc of the Madrid clash.

"We have been very demanding with the players and they have responded well."

Blanc will start with a strong side against Brest, although Christophe Jallet has a back problem that may require surgery.

The capital club, who have won the French Cup eight times, are not the only leading name faced with a tie against lower-league opposition in Brittany this weekend.

Monaco, who sit second in the top flight, travel to third-tier strugglers Vannes with the focus on whether Colombian striker Radamel Falcao will start a game for the first time since November 24.

The former Atletico Madrid man made his comeback after a thigh complaint as a substitute in the shock 2-1 home defeat to Valenciennes just before Christmas.

Bordeaux travel to amateur outfit Raon l'Etape, a team they beat on penalties on the way to winning the competition last season, while elsewhere there are a number of ties between Ligue 1 sides.

Rennes entertain Valenciennes on Saturday, before Nantes face Nice and Bastia take on last season's runners-up Evian on Sunday with France international striker Djibril Cisse declaring himself ready to play for the Corsicans for the first time after signing on an 18-month deal.

"I last played on December 12. I will need to do a little bit of work with the team but I will be operational as of Sunday," declared Cisse at his unveiling.

Marseille, one of Cisse's old clubs, also face top-flight opposition in the shape of Reims, who will be hoping for a repeat of their 3-2 triumph at the Stade Velodrome in the league in late October.

Notable French Cup last 64 fixtures