PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs Athletic Bilbao
UEFA Europa League – Group F
Venue: Parc des Princes
Date: 14th December 2011
Kick-Off: 18:00 (GMT)
If Paris Saint Germain are going to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League tonight, they will need to rely on a favour from Slovan Bratislava.
The Parisians need to beat the already qualified Athletic Bilbao and hope that the Slovaks can give them a helping hand by registering a result against Red Bull Salzburg.
Goal difference will be a deciding factor if PSG and Salzburg – both level on seven points – win their respective games. Whoever accumulates the greater margin out of the two will of course advance. PSG are on -1 with the Austrians having the advantage with +2, giving them the satisfaction of knowing that their fate is in their own hands.
Much of the damage was done a fortnight ago thanks to the 2-0 defeat in Salzburg which has ultimately put them in the driving seat. Brazilian Nene realises how severe that night was by telling reporters in yesterday’s pre-match press conference; “We screwed up”.
Assuming a win will materialise against Bilbao is of course not on the mind of any of the players after being well and truly humbled at the San Mames back in September, 2-0. It was a largely disappointing night for Antoine Kombouare’s men and was somewhat of a reality check after such a good start to the season. Bilbao had their troubles at the beginning of the campaign but now find themselves competing in the top half of La Liga and are currently on a four game unbeaten run.
With Los Leones already guaranteed top spot in the group, their respected Coach Marcelo Bielsa has opted to rest marquee names such as Javi Martinez and Ander Herrera. Fernando Llorente is also out due to injury and it remains to be seen whether or not one of Spain’s brightest prospects Iker Muniain is given a run out. With the Spaniards travelling to the French capital with a depleted squad, that will give the Parisians the impetus to go all out for the win.
Mixed news on the injury front for the hosts as both Jeremy Menez and Clement Chantome are out along with Blaise Matuidi who will be absent until the New Year. The good news is that at long last striker Guillaume Hoarau is back in the squad after undergoing surgery on his shoulder back in September. His presence in the squad is certainly a huge boost.