AC Ajaccio vs PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Venue: Stade Francois Coty
Date: 16th October 2011
Kick-Off: 16:00 (GMT)
It has been a splendid week for the nation as a whole with France gaining qualification to Euro 2012. It has been doubly special for the Parisians who have had the pleasure of seeing their club sitting at the summit of Ligue 1 for that duration after the magnificent 2-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais prior to the international break. Now a difficult trip to Corsica awaits with AC Ajaccio looking to prolong a top-flight hoodoo.
PSG have never won at the Stade Francois Coty in Ligue 1, accumulating two defeats and three draws. It is the only ground in the French top-flight where they have played the most but never been victorious. Bonaventure Kalou’s goal in a 1-1 draw back in December 2005 is the only one scored by a player in a blue and red shirt, further emphasising the difficulty the club has had on the island.
Things are different this time around. Unbeaten since the opening day of the season and sitting three points clear at the top, Coach Antoine Kombouare will be under no illusions that these are the sort of games his team need to be winning if they want to become league champions. For the first time in seven years, a more than realistic title charge is on the cards and the win over Lyon two weeks ago demonstrated the pedigree flowing through the ranks to finally deliver a long overdue championship.
As always after an international break, weariness can play a significant part. The good news is talisman Javier Pastore only played six minutes for Argentina but did rack up an array of air miles by travelling from his homeland to Venezuela and back to Paris. Diego Lugano was instrumental is Uruguay’s impressive win over Bolivia where he netted a brace and Jeremy Menez was named man of the match by L’Equipe in the 1-1 draw with Bosnia – sealing Euro qualification.
Mamadou Sakho is finally back in action after playing for the reserves last weekend and stated his readiness to be involved in matters on Sunday. Make no mistake about it, this is a welcome piece of news and will only strengthen the defence significantly. Although PSG have fared well without him, the thought of the skipper pairing with Diego Lugano over the hectic winter period is a promising thought. Koumbouare will have a decision to make whether or not to play Sakho alongside Zoumana Camara (with Lugano suspended, along with Jeremy Menez) or prefer to leave him on the bench and ease him in gently.
Blaise Matuidi is out indefinitely for up to a month after injuring the posterior muscle in his left thigh against Lyon. Either Clement Chantome or Mohamed Sissoko will partner Mathieu Bodmer in centre midfield.
As for our hosts, Ajaccio have only won one league game all season and are sitting in the bottom three. They have racked up four draws, one at the Stade de Gerland against Lyon back in August, and two on the bounce against Dijon and Brest away from home.
Frederic Sammaritano is Ajaccio’s top goalscorer with four goals but has not netted in over a month. Nevertheless, his influence in midfield will be key to his side’s attack and will need to be quelled.
The Parisians will need to create a new piece of history if they want to put the pressure on their title rivals and end their Corsica hoodoo, especially with Lyon hosting bottom side Nancy tomorrow night.