Tonight is the start of a huge week for Paris Saint-Germain. Sunday is the biggest game of the season as we take on leaders Lyon with a chance of overhauling them at the top of the table with a victory (dependent also on Marseille’s result) but tonight we have a chance to book a place in the Coupe de la Ligue Final.
Lille will play hosts at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in what should be a pulsating clash. Our defence of the trophy is on the line and so is our chance to win a domestic treble. If we can do the business later on, then what a boost that will give everyone at the football club. The lads will be buoyant heading to the Stade de Gerland at the weekend.
Coach Laurent Blanc said it is an “exciting” week ahead in his pre-match presser yesterday; “It’s true that we are attacking a very exciting week, especially with our trip to Lyon on Sunday in Ligue 1. But our first challenge is the Coupe de la Ligue and a tough game against Lille. It’s an exciting week for the club, but we have built a side to play these types of matches. The next three or four months are going to be very exciting, but we also know that things can change very quickly”.
He knows full well that tonight is a great opportunity. The club has a real chance of creating history this season as no French club has ever won a domestic treble. It would be a fantastic achievement if it were to happen. And a few trips to the Stade de France with silverware on the line are not occasions to be scoffed at.
Les Dogues find themselves in 13th place and without a win in three. It is far cry from last season’s third-placed finish where they were genuine title contenders. Rene Girard’s side had a decent run last month with three consecutive victories, including the 2-0 win over Nantes in the quarter-final to set-up this rendezvous tonight. But, they went through a period of 13 games without a win from the back end of September, all the way through to December. This included a 1-1 draw with ourselves in the league.
That ended a nine-game winning streak of ours. Edinson Cavani’s first-half strike was cancelled out by one of our own players, Salvatore Sirigu. We were excellent in the first-half though. Some of the interplay was great at times with Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura all excelling. But after the interval – and as the game wore on – they were the better of the two sides.
Lucas nearly scored one of the goals of the season as he beat four red shirts with a jinking run but then smashed the crossbar with his shot.
Blanc is expecting nothing new from the hosts tonight; “We know this Lille side very well. But they also know all about us, because we played against each other in the league in December. There shouldn’t be too many surprises, for them, nor for us. We know the players, the coach, and the way they usually play. What counts most in these types of matches is of course the victory. Against Lille, there’s every chance it will be a tight game. So we have to be focused, and make a good start, because if you look back at our recent matches against Lille, we often found the going tough, especially early on”.
As I said, this evening is a real opportunity. Victory will mean yet another date to look forward to in the calendar! The club can do something quite remarkable this season but they must win tonight to help achieve it!