Paris Saint-Germain vs AS Saint-Etienne
Tonight Paris Saint-Germain look to sign off before the international break on a high with victory against an impressive Saint-Etienne side who have picked up seven points out of nine. With former PSG striker Mevlut Erding starting the season brightly with three goals – sitting top of the Ligue 1 scoring chart – Les Verts have high hopes to finally break into the Champions League spots come next spring.
Coach Laurent Blanc paid a glowing appraisal to Christophe Galtier’s side in yesterday’s pre-match presser by saying: “Saint-Etienne is a football strong hold in France. Over the last few years they have been doing a great job under Christophe Galtier. They are growing and they have qualified for Europe. We saw what that meant to Saint-Etienne and their supporters at the end of the match against Karabükspor. I grew up watching Les Verts. They were the first team on television. They are a club that myself and the French public like”.
All the pleasantries of course will be put to one side as we look to get our first league win of the season. Last week’s 0-0 draw with Evian was underwhelming, and that is putting it mildly. However the return of the main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic is fantastic news. The Swede will inevitably go straight back into the 11 but how Blanc sets up his team is another matter. Cannot help but think he will go with the standard 4-3-3 with Edinson Cavani starting out wide again. But as the game wears on Zlatan will most probably drop deep, allowing ED to go up top centrally with the two wide men providing the support. Ezequiel Lavezzi will not be one of them as he has been ruled out through injury.
Gregory Van der Wiel is also back in the squad after his injury. The initial fears that this was a long-term injury with thankfully quelled and having him back is a welcome boost. Serge Aurier has filled in admirably in his absence but for VDW is integral to our wide play. Whether or not he starts at the Parc tonight? We shall see.
We are coming up against a very good team, there is no doubt about it and this will be a major test. We ran out 2-0 winners last term thanks to a brace from Ibra but who can forget their 2-1 win at the Parc the season before last where Zlatan received his marching orders. Then a few months later they dumped us out of the Coupe de la Ligue on penalties which was a bitterly disappointing night for Carlo Ancelotti who was in charge at the time.
They are on an absolute high after the penalty shoot-out win on Thursday against the Turkish club Karabükspor to put them into the group-stages of the Europa League. Galtier’s celebrations at the end were priceless, epitomising the euphoria within the club. They may have lost Kurt Zouma to Chelsea but are they a stronger outfit now in general? Well they have seen a host of departures as well as incomers mainly on loan including Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Norwich City. The start has been impressive but time will tell.