SC BASTIA VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
VENUE: Stade Armand Cesari
DATE: 22nd SEPTEMBER 2012
KICK-OFF: 16:00 (GMT)
Following the exploits in Europe in midweek, Paris Saint-Germain eye a third straight league victory over Ligue 2 champions SC Bastia later today which could see us jump into third position.
The performance against Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday night in the Champions League opener has been lavished with superlatives. Without question, it was the side’s best performance of the season, if not in the past 12 months – certainly the best under the tenure of Carlo Ancelotti. Everything just clicked on the night, in particular the understanding between the front trio of Jeremy Menez, Javier Pastore and the main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Ukrainians could not cope with the interchanging and movement throughout the 90 minutes, left completely bamboozled by the end of the first-half.
Marco Verratti put in another wonderful performance in central midfield alongside Blaise Matuidi and Clement Chantome who was outstanding.
Chantome, will more than likely keep his place in the team later today as Thiago Motta is out with a back injury. Ezequiel Lavezzi is also out and could be missing for up to 10 days as the Argentine has picked up a thigh strain. His compatriot Javier Pastore has also been struggling since the game on Tuesday with a hip problem but he has been named in the squad. Whether or not he participates this evening remains to be seen. Mamadou Sakho is back in the fold after missing midweek with a thigh injury.
Dutchman Gregory Van der Wiel also sat out the clash with Kiev due to a slight knock but is in line for his debut today. It will be interesting to see if Carlo Ancelotti decides to slot him in at right-back in place of skipper Christophe Jallet who may be ushered into midfield. Then again it is more than likely VDW will start on the bench.
Today’s opponents have hit the buffers in the last month after starting the season superbly. Les Bleus won their first two fixtures, including a frenetic 3-2 win away to Sochaux on the opening day of the season. Araujo Ilan netted a 95th minute winner the week after against Stade de Reims to give them the spoils over their fellow promoted side. However, three consecutive defeats to Rennes, Saint-Etienne and Evian have brought them back down to earth.
Their coach Frédéric Hantz will be under no illusions that this will be a tough season for them but they will be backed to the hill today as the Stade Armand Cesari has sold out its 16,000 capacity.
The gulf in class between the two teams is vast but this will be no easy feat for Les Parisiens. They will have to contend with a pumped up Corsican crowd that will make it uneasy for them, not to mention their opponents. Brazilian striker Ilan will be missing for them though with a groin problem but former Parisien Jerome Rothen may be in line for a start. The French veteran spent six seasons at the club littered with highs and lows.