MONTPELLIER HSC VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
VENUE: STADE DE LA MOSSON
DATE: 11TH NOVEMBER 2012
KICK-OFF: 20:00 (GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain will travel to the champions Montpellier on Sunday night with nothing to fear.
Coming off the back of the 4-0 drubbing of Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night, it healed some of the wounds from the previous weekend where Saint-Etienne dished out our first league defeat of the season.
The first-half against the Croats however was one to forget. A distinct lack of creativity and rhythm was evident but fortunes changed after the interval and the team put on a show – largely down to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who will of course be suspended. It was confirmed on Thursday that he will miss the next two games following his red at the weekend.
It will be interesting to see if Carlo Ancelotti opts to play Guillaume Hoarau as a like for like or utilise Jeremy Menez or Ezequiel Lavezzi as a makeshift centre-forward. He has done this with Menez and Javier Pastore on a number of occasions any may be tempted to do so.
Young Adrien Rabiot made history being the youngest ever starter in the Champions League, 17 years-old and seven months, and was sterling throughout. He and Marco Verratti were excellent in the middle of the park in the second-half along with Blaise Matuidi and that could give ‘Carletto’ food for thought.
Good news also – according to Le Parisien – is that midfielder Thiago Motta is closing on a return and could be in the squad for Sunday. I will keep you posted on Twitter regarding that.
Montpellier’s fairytale from last season is still predominant in the memory. They – like us – have been embarking on a fantasy beyond their fans wildest dream. Even though they were humbled in midweek by Olympiakos in the Champions League – all but eliminated as a consequence – it has been a miracle for them to be there in the first place. Their fans have loving every minute of their European adventure but domestically things have been bleak.
It was always going to be a mammoth task to replicate anything near what they achieved last season in any shape or form. Losing star striker Olivier Giroud to English shores, plus not having the resources to spend and really build on their success is blatantly obvious. They lie in 14th position, 10 points off ourselves but have finally put some daylight between them and the relegation zone. A recent turn round in fortune has aided that with a win over Nice at the Stade de la Mosson and earning a point in Troyes.
Still, this is going to be a long hard season for the southerners judging by their form this season. They have not been struggling to find the back of the net – finding the net in all but one game this campaign – but their defence has been a real hindrance, shipping in as many as they have scored and it is costing them dear.
They did well to hold onto their talisman Younes Belhanda who Les Parisiens will be wary of in the centre of midfield. Souleymane Camaraww will lead the line of attack on his own having bagged five goals this season. They will however be without influential defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – who was sensation last season – and Moroccan attacker Karim Ait-Fana.