First and foremost guys I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year. Amazing, it only seems like yesterday that the final whistle blew on that pulsating 2-2 draw at home to Lille on the 22nd December. Yet here we are after the winter break and about to recommence the season.
As much as time flies, as has the Parisien air miles this winter. The club’s annual winter tour of Qatar concluded with a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in a jam-packed Khalifa International Stadium. Yet again it was good exposure for the club as its image gets more and more greater in the Middle-East. Gregory Van der Wiel, Marquinhos and Hervin Ongenda were on hand to open up a brand spanking new club store in Doha which drew big attention. Some of the lads were even given sightseeing tours of what Qatar’s largest city has to offer. Of course the whole purpose was to enhance the club as an entity but coach Laurent Blanc will have been pleased with his preperation.
The wonderful yet mesmeric Aspire training complex was put to full use with four days of training. Some of the lads will have sweated out some of the mulled wine which they consumed over the festive period in the souring heat but the camp as usual looked in high spirits. So they should be, that result at home to Lille in the final game of 2013 preserved a comfortable lead at the top of the table heading into 2014. In a game that could have gone either way, we did ride our luck at times against an ever improving LOSC side. But, any luck we may have had in that game, we lacked against Madrid.
Jese’s first-half strike was enough to settle it for Los Blancos. Nevertheless Les Parisiens created a variety of chances but were not clinical enough in front of goal. The in-form Edinson Cavani had a glaring opportunity in the penalty box that he usually thrives upon but sliced his effort well wide. It was a sign of rustiness, no doubt about it but it is natural after a prolonged period without competitive football. PSG gave the Spanish stalwarts a game and that pleased Blanc, although he was disappointed by the failure to score. He told the club’s Official Site: “It was a quality match of football between two very good sides with excellent players on the pitch. Technically it was a very good standard. Despite all that, I’m a little disappointed that Real Madrid were a little better than us in taking their chances. It’s perhaps the only part of the game in which they were better than us tonight. A match of this quality deserved a few more goals. Both sides had a lot of chances and I would have preferred that the spectators had seen a few more goals to thank them for coming to watch.”
Now that the January transfer window has opened up, you can bet the rumours about possible comings and goings will intensify. Interestingly, Blanc may look to a position you would not entirely suspect. Christophe Jallet, whose form has dipped severely, falling out of favour to the ever improving VDV, looks to be out two months after suffering a slipped disc (not too dissimilar from Jeremy Menez’s injury back in the summer). With a hectic period of fixtures coming up, Blanc may need to look into the possibility of bringing someone in for that position. He could use Marquinhos or even shift Lucas Digne there but it would be a gamble.
Back to matters on the pitch, the Coupe de France kicks off the New Year. We have a trip to Brest on Sunday who of course were relegated from Ligue 1 last season. They are not fairing too great either this campaign, lying just two points off the relegation zone. We netted six goals in the two games we met last season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring three. David Beckham even gave an assist to Blaise Matuidi in this fixture at the Parc in what was that emotional night. The Englishman called time on his playing career and the club celebrated the Ligue 1 title to round off what was a beautiful week for the city of Paris. It would also turned out to be Carlo Ancelotti’s last match in charge at the Parc des Princes.