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Paris Saint-Germain concluded their pre-season tour with a 1-0 defeat to Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid on Saturday in a glamour clash in Gothenburg. It rounded off what has been a funny old pre-season with two wins and two defeats.
Laurent Blanc had to make do with a lack of his marquee names at the beginning of July due to their international commitments. The likes of Thiago Silva (who has just linked up with the squad on Thursday), Lucas Moura and Salvatore Sirigu were away with their national teams in the Confederations Cup. Marco Verratti had commitments in the European U-21 Championship and those who participated in World Cup Qualifiers and friendlies after the conclusion of last season were given an extended break. So it has been a bit of a conundrum for the new coach having to wait a number of weeks to get the vast majority of his squad back together.
The new signings have not even integrated with the group as yet. Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos and Lucas Digne all linked up at Clairefontaine for the first time today, training amongst themselves before the rest of the squad report tomorrow after their Swedish tour.
But, we can hardly rest on our laurels as preparation will begin for the trip to Gabon and the clash with Bordeaux in the Trophee des Champions. It is going to be a long-haul flight, over six hours in fact covering 3000 miles. The French Football Federation took the decision in 2009 to take this fixture overseas in order to promote French football. It is the first time PSG will have experienced this but despite the complex nature of the trip, it will reaffirm a new global appeal towards PSG and Ligue 1 in general. The Stade d’Angondje will make a wonderful setting having opened only two years ago and Blanc will be chomping at the bit to claim his first silverware as Parisien coach.
With the new season kicking off a week after the TDC, the new boys will most certainly be involved at some point against Bordeaux despite their lack of preparation. Same goes for Thiago Silva. Blanc will be delighted that he now has full control of his squad having had to wait weeks to get them all under his observation.
I would not say this has been a negative but it has not been entirely helpful. The positive thing though is the likes of Javier Pastore, Clement Chantome, Alex, Thiago Motta and Mamadou Sakho have had a full pre-season to really prepare for the new campaign.
But, the young boys such Hervin Ongenda who scored an absolute peach in the defeat to Sturm Graz and 17-year-old Kingsley Coman who has showed his potential have been the biggest positives in my opinion. Striker Kalifa Coulibaly also started two consecutive games and Antoine Conte played a part at the back. It just shows that despite the enormity of money that is poured out of the club there is a terrific academy in place with players coming through. Whether or not they will be utilised within the first-team remains to be seen but no doubt Blanc will do his utmost to integrate them as best he can.
For now, eyes turn to Gabon as the club look to clinch the first piece of silverware of the season. PSG have won the Trophee des Champions twice before in 1995 and 1998, four-times runners-up.