First and foremost, I would like to send out my deepest condolences to the city of Paris and of course France itself. What has happened this week is truly gut wrenching to see and my heart goes out to my friends across the channel as well the whole of the French nation. Stay strong, stay safe! You are not alone!
Just before tomorrow’s game away to Bastia there will be a minutes silence observed across all Ligue 1 stadiums where games are taking place.
Vive la France!
The 3-0 victory last Monday on that dreaded pitch at the Altrad Stadium was a welcome boost. All the palaver surrounding Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani was not good for the football club so it was nice to kick-off the New Year with a victory. It was not all plain sailing of course. The first 45 minutes were extremely poor – for the spectator at least– as neither side were able to put on a spectacle. The pitch was borderline unplayable, leading to Zlatan Ibrahimovic labelling it as “s**t” post-match. Ibra is not one to mince his words and no one could dispute his evaluation.
Nevertheless, we got the job done! There were positives to take such as the performances of the midfield trio. Yohan Cabaye, who was filling in for Thiago Motta, did well. Blaise Matuidi was man of the match for me as his energy rubbed off on his peers. And surprisingly Clement Chantome who put in his best performance since returning from Toulouse. The Frenchman could be on his way out of the club this month but he got the ball rolling with the opening goal.
Of course, off-field matters have been predominant in the news. Thiago Motta seeks a move it seems and reports today suggest that Adrien Rabiot wants to conclude a loan-move to Tottenham Hotspur. Blanc in his presser today more or less ruled Motta out of the squad for tomorrow due to his foot injury. Lavezzi and Cavani of course are still absent but LB did give an update on the pair, hinting that they may be reintegrated back into training with the full-squad next week.
Blanc; “Both players have disrespected the club, the staff, the players. The decision was unanimous (to make them train away from the group). We was surprised & disappointed. They have trained well, it’s the least they could do. Back in the squad? I do not know. We will take a decision after the Bastia match”.
We are up against a Bastia side who are no longer coached by former Parisian favourite Claude Makelele. The Frenchman left the club last summer to take his first role as a head coach but unfortunately was sacked back in November. Under the guidance of new coach Ghislain Printant, the Blues have picked up a decent run of form since mid-December. They still sit in the bottom three but have progressed in both cup competitions and managed a valiant 2-0 victory at home to Rennes which started turn of good fortune.
Although we will not be coming up against Makelele, two familiar faces in goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and Hervin Ongenda who are on loan from the Parc des Princes will be in the SCB squad. Areola is certain to start but Ongenda has been struggling with injury of late so it will be touch and go as to whether or not he starts – or even make the bench.
We could be six points behind leaders Marseille by kick-off if they are to beat Montpellier tonight. Victory is absolutely imperative for us. We ran out 3-0 winners in the fixture last season where Lavezzi netted a brace. We will be relying on somebody else this time around to get the job done.