Paris Saint-Germain VS FC Girondins de Bordeaux
Trophee des Champions
Venue: Stade d’Angondje
Date: 3rd August 2013
Kick-Off: 19:45 (GMT)
It has taken a six hour flight and covered over 3000 miles as Paris Saint-Germain look to claim their piece of silverware this season in Gabon against Coupe de France winners Bordeaux tonight.
The players and staff landed to a beautiful welcome from the Gabonese on Thursday night with every member of their official PSG fan group turning out to greet them at the airport. In fact, Les Parisiens are probably the most talked about subject in Central Africa at this moment in time. The club along with Bordeaux – and Ligue 1 as a whole – are under the prying eye of the world’s second largest continent. It is emphasising the global interest in PSG which is also benefiting football in France as well. The FFF’s decision to take the Trophee des Champions overseas in 2009 had its doubts but there is no denying that it is reaching out to a whole new spectrum. The only major downside is that the vast amount of supporters back in France will not have the opportunity to go to these matches due to how infeasible it is.
Since the players arrived at their base in the capital city of Libreville they have been mingling with the locals, having a spot of recreational time – Zlatan Ibrahimovic took part in some ping-pong – before training at the Stade d’Angondje where 40,000 spectators will pack the floodlit stadium tonight. The club has been a credit since going out there. The players and staff have been putting smiles on the faces of the young children by giving them ‘Paris Saint-Germain Foundation’ t-shirts, other paraphernalia and interacting with them.
It is not hard to forget that there is actually a match taking place later tonight. It is fitting as well that Laurent Blanc, in his first competitive match in charge, is facing the club that built his stock as a coach in Bordeaux. There he masterminded their fruitful season in 2009 where they clinched the Ligue 1 title, ending a 10-year wait. Also, he won the Trophee des Champions that year where goals from Fernando Cavenaghi and Fernando Menegazzo saw off Guingamp in Montreal.
Les Parisiens are not shy to a TDC overseas either. Back in 2010 a bore draw was ended with Marseille beating us on penalties in 2010, Ludovic Giuly missing a decisive penalty. 1998 was the last time we tasted success in this fixture, beating Lens 1-0 thanks to a second-half strike by Yann Lachuer.
As for tonight, Blanc will be keen to stamp his own mark on the club by landing a piece of silverware to set a precedent ahead of the start of the season next week in Montpellier. New signings Edinson Cavani and Marquinhos have been left back in Paris, due to not being vaccinated in time apparently, and Jeremy Menez is also out after having surgery on his back.
How will PSG set-up? Well Blanc has been setting up his teams in a 4-4-2 during pre-season which sort of indicates that Cavani and Ibra will eventually line up alongside one another rather than one dropping back. With Kevin Gameiro now in Seville, the young guns Hervin Ongenda and Kingsley Coman have been given opportunities in pre-season and impressing. Particularly Coman who may well start alongside Ibra tomorrow unless Blanc opts to put Ezequiel Lavezzi up top as he did last week against Real Madrid. Thiago Motta has had a very good pre-season in terms of regaining his fitness and Blanc is certainly a fan, seeing his experience as key. He will most probably start in the middle alongside Blaise Matuidi with two from three out of Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura and Lavezzi operating the wide areas. In defence, Thiago Silva is due for his first start since arriving back from the FIFA Confederations Cup and will line up alongside Mamadou Sakho or Alex. Lucas Digne will perhaps be handed his full debut unless the ever reliant Maxwell is given the nod.
There is definitely food for thought for the coach and it emphasises the strength in depth that there is at least two players for every position – and around six in central midfield at this moment in time.
Our opponents tonight are missing a host of names such as Cheick Tidiane, David Bellion, Marc Planus, Henrqiue, Julien Faubert and Diego Rolan. The good news however is that they pulled off a real coup by signing Argentine defender Lucas Orban this week from Tigres for just €3.5m. He is one to watch out for this season in Ligue 1.
However, it has been a departure that has been the biggest news to those in the port city, Benoit Tremoulinas. After spending his entire career at the club, the Frenchman has sought pastures new in the Ukraine with Dynamo Kiev after completing a move for just under €6m. After years of speculation regarding his future a move always seemed inevitable but it is a huge loss to FCGB losing their marquee man. He has joined up with Younes Belhanda who also made the move from to Kiev for around €9.6m from Montpellier.
Winning or losing tonight is not critical by any means but it would certainly give Blanc the added boost of making an immediate impression if that beautiful piece os silverware is brought back to Paris.