Paris Saint-Germain VS OGC Nice
Venue: Parc des Princes
Date: 9th November 2013
Kick-Off: 16:00 (GMT)
The performance in midweek was subdued. Laurent Blanc will be left rueing a golden opportunity missed to book an early ticket into the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. But, we were up against an Anderlecht side that was unrecognisable from the one we destroyed two weeks prior. It is a real testament to the Belgians who fought like warriors and evidently learnt from the mistakes that cost them so dear back on their home turf. They harried us when we had possession, doubled up and stifled our rhythm. Undeniably, they deserve plenty of praise for that performance but there were little instances of the mentality that hindered Les Parisien during Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure. That was motivation.
When we turn it on, we are a match for absolutely anybody. We have an incredible team at the moment that is just getting stronger with each passing week. Blanc is carrying on the stupendous work of his predecessor and more. We are playing some of the best football in recent years. We are setting new standards, especially this incredible unbeaten run which has now stretched to 32 games in all competitions (from open play). On top of that, the squad is as united as it has ever been. The blend of youthful exuberance along with the experience is a wonderful tonic. But you sometimes cannot help but wonder if the motivation for the so called ‘lesser’ games will be below par.
Former director of football Leonardo infamously said last season; “PSG is a team made for Europe”. He implied that when it comes to playing against some of the smaller clubs in France, the players cannot gee themselves up. That disgruntled a lot of people, particularly myself. They are playing for Paris Saint-Germain, they should be motivated every single time they put that navy shirt on. But it was a valid point. There were occasions when we looked a shell of our potential. Especially when you compare a performance against a big club where we would be superb and then a week later, look totally disinterested in Reims for example.
The performance on Tuesday was reminiscent of those performances. Maybe the players felt they had enough to stroll to a win. The mentality will have been of that nature after the demolition job two weeks before. One thing is for certain, Anderlecht were the coupon busters of the night but merited their point. They shocked us. Nevertheless, had we been more on the boil I have no doubt we would have won that game.
It is a test for Blanc to grapple with his players and get them on song tonight. Nice at home will be no walk over that is for sure. But we have beaten them on the last two occasions at the Parc – 3-0 last season and 2-1 the season before. Dario Cvitanich is continuing from the sterling haul of goals he accumulated last season, bagging seven in the league already. But, he has only managed two on the road thus far so hopefully that is an omen for tonight. They are not the most potent scorers but they have had a very steady start to the season.
Marco Verratti is unfortunately out so Adrien Rabiot will come in. It will be a consecutive start in the league for him which is fantastic. His inclusion never raises doubts despite his tender age. Getting better every minute he plays. Thiago Silva is set for his first start since September after coming on in the week. Marquinhos may just find himself dropping to the bench but we shall see. Javier Pastore, another who is back from injury and tipped for a possible start by Le Parisien. He could come in for Ezequiel Lavezzi with Edinson Cavani – back also – on the opposite side and Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line.
AS Monaco could only manage a point last night against Evian so a win will put us five points ahead of them. Lille are away to Guingamp this evening.