The capital of romance is not only celebrating a day full of bouquets, hugs and kisses on this Valentine’s Day but there is a game of football to be played tonight. Somewhat of a let-down for the other halves that have no interest in Paris Saint-Germain but for those that are, a win tonight against Valenciennes will open up a lovely eight point lead ahead of Monaco.
The club from the principality have a tricky trip to Bastia on Saturday which will not be plain sailing. If they slip up there and we get all three points tonight then that will cap off a great six days that started with a result in Monaco last Sunday. There were positives to take from that game but Laurent Blanc has come in for some criticism following the result. Some newspapers questioned his substitutions, believing it disrupted the rhythm, notably Lucas coming off as he is a player that offered impetus in attack. In my opinion, had it not been for a huge slice of misfortune (Thiago Silva’s own goal) we would have held on for all three points. We were comfortable for much of that second-half despite Monaco having more of the ball. Saying that, Blanc and Blaise Matuidi felt the hosts were worthy of their equaliser for their performance after the interval. Certainly the introduction of Geoffrey Kondogbia at half-time made it more difficult for us to break them down.
There is mixed news on the injury front ahead of the game with Les Atheniens. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be fine after struggling with his back in the run up to the game in Monte Carlo. Edinson Cavani should be on course for a return very soon, although tonight is a little too early for him. But, Thiago Silva has been having ankle trouble this week. Blanc said in his pre-match presser that it is nothing alarming but with a huge game on Tuesday coming up, he may be inclined to rest him.
That huge game in question is the trip to Germany for the first-leg against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. It is amazing that we are at that time of the season again where the knockout phase begins. Thankfully, we will have an extra days rest compared to our German hosts who play in the evening on Saturday against Schalke. We need to take any advantage we can as they are flying high in the Bundesliga, only playing catch-up to Europe’s best team Bayern Munich.
This is a big few days coming up. Blanc said yesterday some of the group are a little fatigued mentally. He will need to ensure their batteries are fully charged to make light work of VAFC tonight before that testing trip to the BayArena.