Anderlecht VS Paris Saint-Germain
UEFA Champions League
Venue: Constant Vanden Stock Stadium
Date: 23rd October 2013
Kick-Off: 19:45 (GMT)
What a weekend eh? Not only did we coast to an emphatic 4-0 win at home to Bastia on Saturday afternoon it was a result that ensured we went to the very summit of Ligue 1, two points ahead of Monaco who dropped points. It continues our unbeaten start to the season and extended that incredible run – which is now – 28 games unbeaten in all competitions from open play.
There were plenty of positives to take from the weekend. Zlatan Ibrahimovic stole the headlines with the most outrageous, magestic goal that only he and a few others cold conjure up. It has been talk of France for the last few days and rightfully so. It was the first of his brace with his second being so less spectacular as guided a Lucas Moura ball past Mickael Landreau with his shoulder. Zlatan’s work was done in the first-half and Laurent Blanc brought him off with tomorrow’s clash in Belgium with Anderlecht in mind. On in his place, the record signing Edinson Cavani who scored an equally impressive goal with a jinking solo effort just after the hour mark to fully ensure all three points. The Matador then rounded things off with a last minute penalty to take him up to six Ligue 1 goals.
As good as some of the individual performances were, the most positive thing was that Blanc fielded six French players from the start. Another evident sign of the coach’s emphasis to bring through home-grown talent as well as utilising the likes of Christophe Jallet and Jeremy Menez who still have roles to play at the club despite others excelling in their positions. Nevertheless, this is a squad game nowadays and Blanc is really using it to his advantage. His keenness to nurture the youth shows no signs of being a faze, it is something he is incessant on doing. Wonderful it is to see Adrien Rabiot and Hervin Ongenda who both had stellar performances, become more integrated into the fold. Rabiot, again looking to be a shoo-in the not too distance future to be a predominant figure in the Parisien midfield.
Tomorrow night, matters turn to Europe. We have a real opportunity to ensure qualification with a double header against Anderlecht who have yet to register a point thus far in Group C. This really is a perfect scenario for us and with no disrespect intended towards the Belgians, Blanc must know six points in the next two is more than realistic.
They may be the current Belgian champions but Standard Liege have gathered a seven point lead over them already with 11 games gone. It is obvious that commitments in Europe have not helped the Purple and White’s hopes. They have lost the resulting games domestically after they played Benfica and Olympiakos.
We all know how difficult games away in Europe are and tomorrow will be no different. If we can match – or even half match – the second-half performance like we did in Greece against Olympiakos last month, then we stand a very good chance of making it nine points from nine. If that does happen, then a win in the return fixture at the Parc will seal our place in the last-16. That will be an immensely great achievement to do it with games to space, especially for Blanc to put another feather in his cap.
Thiago Silva is still continuing his recovery so Alex and Marquinhos will continue their partnership in central defence. Javier Pastore and Christophe Jallet are also staying behind in Paris due to injury. Good news is that Thiago Motta is back following his suspension on Saturday.