COUPE DE FRANCE
Montpellier HSC vs Paris Saint-Germain
Poor Laurent Blanc. Instead of talking up the round of 64 clash against Montpellier in his pre-match presser yesterday, he had to go into detail on the repercussions from the Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani saga that has dominated the past week.
Blanc confirmed that both players will train away from the group until Saturday. They will also be left out of the next two games (including tonight). LB was very honest with his answers and fair play to him for being so forthright with this issue. It has irked him that much that he may even consider prolonging their absence away from the team. Blanc said; “We would have preferred to avoid all this, especially at the moment. A date to return to training is important, especially after an average first half of the season. Olivier Letang and myself spoke to Cavani and Lavezzi. We had a discussion at the end of which the club has imposed both financial sanctions – which I won’t go into – and sporting sanctions. I decided on the sporting sanctions with the support of the club. The pair will train separately from the rest of the squad and will not be picked for the matches against Montpellier and Bastia. After those two matches, we will see if the sanction is extended, or if they re-join the rest of the squad. Their acts were inadmissible and unacceptable, as soon as they put their personal projects ahead of those of the squad and put the squad’s project in danger and I hate that.”
It is clear sign of ‘I am the boss’ by Blanc and he needed to take a stance like this. Credit to him, he has handled the situation impeccably. Two of his more senior pros let him down massively and did not buckle under the pressure of player power.
Tonight, we are up against an MHSC side that dumped us out of the competition last season at the Parc des Princes. This time around, we will be in Montpellier – but not at the Stade de la Mosson. Due to flood damage, the game has been relocated to the city’s rugby ground the Altrad Stadium. The pitch there is not in great shape and Blanc was questioned about this in his presser. He said; “I am aware of the state of the pitch at the Altrad Stadium because I saw the match of my friend Antoine Kombouare (Montpellier vs Lens). It’ a shame to play there because the capacity is only 14,000 whereas the Stade de La Mosson is 32,000. I know that it’s a cup game and anything can happen. We know this Montpellier side well having played them recently. They are a strong side with good players. I am wary of this side, but I am very wary of the conditions we will play in”.
The 2012 Ligue 1 champions have picked up a decent bit of form since November and are currently 10th in the table. They held us to a goalless draw in the last competitive game of 2014 and will take heart from that. We were ever so abject on that night.
With Lavezzi and Cavani out we also have a number of players missing due to injury. Salvatore Sirigu, Jean-Christophe Bahebeck and Thiago Motta will all sit this one out. Serge Aurier is also absent as he has departed for the African Cup of Nations.