Paris Saint-Germain can really up the ante on the title race tonight if they can overcome a Rennes side that are reeling from their 1-4 defeat at home to Caen last weekend. The champions can cut Lyon’s lead at the top to just a point and they face a difficult game in Monte Carlo on Sunday night where they will take on an in-form AS Monaco.
The win in Saint-Etienne last Sunday was big for us. We had to win there and even though the award of the penalty was slightly dubious, we took our chance. Zlatan Ibrahimovic who netted the winner has been in hot water since that game and it was revealed yesterday that he must attend a meeting with the LFP on February 19th. This is in regards to an altercation he had with Les Verts’ player Romain Hamouma. I did say at the time that he was lucky to only get away with a yellow card for what seemed to be an apparent kick at the player. But, the positive thing for us now is that will be available for Lille trip next week in the cup. Any suspension that may occur will not happen until a decision in made on the 19th.
So Zlatan is in the squad for tonight but Thiago Motta is not! The Azzurri international is suspended so Yohan Cabaye is likely to fill in. Another player missing is Gregory Van der Wiel due to injury so Marquinhos is set for a third consecutive start at right-back. A lot has been made of the Brazilian playing in that position instead of his favoured centre-back role but Blanc was keen to endorse him in yesterday’s pre-match presser by saying; “I am completely satisfied with Marquinhos’ performances on the right side of the defence. Today, he is the only player capable of playing there with Serge Aurier on international duty at the African Cup of Nations and Gregory van der Wiel out with a toe injury. But I should also remind you that Marquinhos has already played at right-back when he was with Roma”.
We are up against a SRFC side that sit 10th in the table but are feeling flat after a 1-4 humiliation at home to relegation strugglers Caen. They have struggled ever since top scorer Paul Ntep picked up a thigh injury during a 1-1 draw with Evian (he happened to score in that game). Their only victory since then has come in the Coupe de France and that was via a penalty shootout at home to Stade de Reims.
The game back in September ended 1-1 after a Maxwell own-goal cancelled out Zoumana Camara’s opener in the first-half. We were not at our best on the day, very sluggish to say the least. This was the weekend just before a European game and it is a known characteristic of ours to underperform in these kind of league games just before a big European night.
Blanc alluded to a ‘lack of cutting edge’ in the first meeting at the Stade de la Route de Lorient yesterday by saying; “In the first game against them this season (1-1), they took their chance and we lacked a little cutting edge in attack. The most important thing tomorrow will be to get the three points”.